John Vanderslice – Romanian Names [Album Review]

by oz on June 8, 2009


John Vanderslice has been a staple in the San Francisco music scene. He’s now put out six albums and, while I’ve sampled most of them, I have never pulled the trigger on a purchase. Something about his sound was too experimental, using too many sound effects. Romanian Names is his first album released on Dead Oceans and its accessibility should expand the Vanderslice audience to include the hipster outsiders like me.

After hearing “Fetal Horses” prior to the release, I was anxious to hear what else Romanian Names had to offer.‚  The beauty of the record slowly crept in after the fourth or fifth time through. Vanderslice’s vocals are warm and his lyrics, provocative:

“Fetal Horses gallop in the womb/ Seeing corpses in an empty room.”‚  And then later: “Elise today your pixeled bloody face/ It seems to me to be finally dead with you him/ So come back to me again/ You’d break everything I have.”

I don’t have the patience to reflect on his lyrics for deeper interpretation, but as I left on a week-long business trip last week, these songs moved me.‚  “Too Much Time” especially struck a nerve and I found myself mesmerized by the lyrics:

Stone by stone/ I left my only home/ And brick by brick/ I woke myself from happiness/ And dead fur and almond wood/ Storm crosses over Mount Hood/ I’ve got too much time/ Too much time gone by/ And I can’t find you if I tried.

Side note: I once lived in a small town on the base of Mount Hood.

I wasn’t expecting to like Romanian Names and this is not the type of music I typically listen to or write about. I am a sucker for poetic lyrics, however, and I guess that’s why Vanderslice is striking a chord with me.‚  Branching out into new musical terrain has never felt better.

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John Vanderslice – Fetal Horses

John Vanderslice – Too Much Time

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Woody June 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I am digging these tunes.

Jessie June 8, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I’ve been listening to John for 5 years now. You can always expect something different with every album! I also recommend the album “Cellar Door” for JV beginners.

Kyle June 8, 2009 at 5:16 pm

I’ve felt the same way about this album, it took me about 5 listens before I started to really enjoy it. After a while, its become quite good.

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