August 31, 2005

OWEN // "In The Morning, Before Work"

During Owen's, "In The Morning Before Work", the contrast of the song lyric, about New Order and Morrissey, against the sadly-sugared pedal steel crying like the bluest angel you'll ever hear, pushes this song into the category of indie rock boy pining for his lost indie rock girl.

Close your eyes and you can see him perched on bed's edge, the rich grain of his acoustic guitar freckled in a table top lamp by hundreds of illegible fingerprints. No evidence here – although the only evidence necessary is coming from the speakers –painting the walls, the rhythm, the song's last line… "but, this song's for you", a lonely indie blue.
Put down the drop cloth, tape up the baseboards and listen...

+ in the morning, before work

This is Owen's bio on label site, Polyvinyl Records

Owen is Mike Kinsella. For nearly ten years now, Mike has been in some of Chicago’s favorite bands--AMERICAN FOOTBALL, CAP’N JAZZ, JOAN OF ARC, and OWLS. Of those, he has probably been most closely associated with AMERICAN FOOTBALL, in which he did much of the songwriting and guitar-playing, and all of the singing. With Owen, Mike takes American Football’s sound to it’s next logical level. Mike writes, performs, and records all of his own material. However, that doesn't mean he can't rock out live--which he has done with back-up help from Kyle Fischer of Rainer Maria on Kyle's recent tour and opening on the last few Rainer Maria tours.

*Bonus Tracks
+ places to go
+ The Ghost of What Should've Been
+ She's a Thief
Joan of Arc: + post coitus ROCK (a fave of mine)
Owls: + everyone is my friend
Cap'N Jazz: + little league
American Football + honestly

*Owen can be found on

August 30, 2005


*Sixeyes is hoping to make 'Released' a regular weekly feature highlighting the CDs of interest to *Sixeyes and you. All links will take you to the page with details of the albums.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Howl
Broken Spindles Inside/Absent
Orenda Fink Invisible Ones
I Am Kloot Gods and Monsters
Timo Maas Pictures
Minus The Bear Menos el Oso
The New Pornographers Twin Cinema
Portastatic Bright Ideas
John Vanderslice Pixel Revolt
The Coral The Invisible Invasion
Death Cab For Cutie Plans
Tenement Halls Knitting Needles & Bicycle Bells
Chad VanGaalen Infiniheart
Laura Veirs Year of Meteors
The Warlocks Surgery

August 29, 2005

The Social Register | JF Robitaille

JF Robitaille heats up the placeMontreal band, The Social Register, are led by JF Robitaille straight into his love of British pop. I'm not talking about Brit pop, his love is for British pop music that was crooned to listeners in the late 70's and early 80's. Especially so on the sweetly melodic tune, "Bury Every Dream". Musically melodic, as well as lyrically, this song may bore holes in hearts of stone and wring tears from eyes of steel.

+ Bury Every Dream - mixed by J. Zadorozny

I asked JF a few questions this past April and this is what he had to say about his influences and how Jordan Zadorozny (Blinker the Star) came to mix his songs...

I was inpired by the music scene in London. I always have been. I love a lot of British song-writers as well (Billy Bragg, Morrissey etc...). Jordan Zadorozny heard a couple of rough mixes we had done and loved the songs, he asked if he could do some mixes and I said of course. I think he's an extremely talented guy.

It turns out that Robitaille has been signed to Rhythmbank Entertainment. This is what I found on Rhythmbank's homepage (although it being undated, I'm not sure if this is recent news):

Montreal singer-songwriter, JF Robitaille, is currently recording his debut album, recorded by Howard Billerman (The Arcade Fire) and Brian Paulson (Beck,Wilco) at Hotel2Tango studios in Montreal. J.F. has long been acknowledged as an extremely gifted song-writer in his native Canada and has had the privilege of opening for such acts as Sean Lennon, Keane, Tegan and Sara, Jonathan Richman, Hayden, Ben Lee, Mellissa Auf Der Maur and many others.

+ Bury Every Dream - mixed by Howard Billerman
+ Caroline - mixed by J. Zadorozny
+ She Knows - mixed by J. Zadorozny

August 28, 2005


Guy Blakeslee, a.k.a. Entrance, has his peculiar guitar technique oft commented upon, so I will just leave that alone and tell you that he is on the Fat Possum label - home to a slew of fine blues artists and Entrance's inclusion is no mistake. You gotta love the blues to give it feeling and 23 year old Blakeslee obviously loves the blues. Maybe he will kick some needed life into finger picked acoustic country blues (never fear, he has discovered electricity also) in the same way Devendra Banhart did for the psych-folk genre.

listen to mp3s from his debut album, Wandering Stranger...

+ Train Is Leaving
+ Rex's Blues
+ Wandering Stranger

Once again the phenomenal digital music download site, has this album. You can get it for free through their special trial offer... please check it through the emusic graphic link in the sidebar.


I don't feel out of line, or out of my mind, when I declare Sloan as the best power pop band to come out of Canada. When I first heard them in the early nineties I had visions of a Lennon / McCartney songwriting partnership being birthed way out east in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The boys never rose to that pinnacle in their art, or fame, but they grew into an extremely confident unit of four songwriters and singers and one of Canada's best.

The band's debut full length was Smeared and it did... it smeared their name all across Canadian media (sometimes the media know a good thing, even when they hear it). Although like most debuts it was a hodgepodge of influences, but the most enduring songs from the record are the power pop numbers. "500 Up", "Underwhelmed", and "I Am The Cancer" still hold and deliver their power, but the best was yet to come. Some may argue with my choice of Sloan's best work... Twice Removed from 1994, but it was this release which brought the power pop influence to the fore while still being more firmly imprinted with the individulistic touchs of the band members. "Coax Me", "Shame Shame", "Deeper Than Beauty", and "Bells On" are all great songs, while "I Hate My Generation", "Snowsuit Sound", and "Worried Now" are just VERY good.

Sloan's most recent release is a collection of singles called A Side Wins: Singles 1992 - 2005. This album contains most of the songs referenced here and includes a new cut titled, "Try To Make It". A nice song, but nothing compared to the earlier songs brimming with the band's youth.

+ try to make it

Smeared, Twice Removed, and A Side Wins: Singles 1992 - 2005, are all now available at emusic. And get this... with emusic's great trial offer, 50 Free Mp3 Downloads!... you can get all three of these albums and you'll have ten downloads left over. Check it for yourself through this link.

August 26, 2005

The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers

Yes, that is the name of the band, The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers... some like it, some love it.... and some wonder why? As for me... I wondered why I hadn't listened to this band before? Perhaps it was the name, but aside from sounding like the 3rd title in a series of boys novels, it's not that bad and would be great on a bill with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Led by Perry Wright, a young man of strong faith and steeped in the creative brew of a musical family, The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers tread the grainy wooden floor boards of mid-western folk/alt-country. A Mid-Western ochre melancholy that is pressed hard and flat in a book of experimental indie rock. This is TPATOADS music.

from The Mother Of Love Emulates The Shapes Of Cynthia - 2005
+ concerning lessons learned from the aliens
+ cannot eat better not sleep

from psalterie -2003
+ on the occasion of a departure
+ the sun fell on you

against pollution (mountain goats cover, live on wknc)
makeout city (live on wknc)
on the occasion of a departure (live on wknc)
i am morris townsend (live on wxyc)
another rock star laments (acoustic version)
billie jean (drunken bombast one take)
an unexpected song
Rotation Of Crops - Rehearsal

August 25, 2005

Minus Story: No Rest for Ghosts: "STREAM"

Minus Story will release their new album, No Rest For Ghosts , on Jagjaguwar, October 11th. You can stream the release right here... from what I have heard this is a sure sign of growth for the band's experimental indie rock/Americana music.

No Rest For Ghosts Track List:
I Was Hit
Knocking On Your Head
Ringing in the Dark
Hold On
Little Wet Head
Waking Up
Will I Be Fighting?
There is a Light
To the Ones You Haunted
In Our Hands

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I neglected to mention that Minus Story's previous full length, The Captain Is Dead, Let The Drum Corpse Dance, is available at, along with a live recording. I hope you are aware of eMusic's great trial offer of 50 FREE mp3 downloads... no strings attached. Please visit through the link in the post below, or the link in the sidebar.

August 24, 2005

What's New At eMusic?

The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
Sufjan Stevens: Illinoise
Richard Thompson: Front Parlour Ballads
Minus The Bear: Menos El Oso
Bob Mould: Body Of Song
Lambchop: How I Quit Smoking
Moonbabies: War On Sound: Mini Album
Townes Van Zandt: Our Mother The Mountain
Headphones: Headphones
Castanets: Cathedral
Jose Gonzales: Veneer
Lucinda Williams: Happy Woman Blues

This last album by Lucinda Williams is just one of many now available on emusic from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. There are a total of 138 downloadable albums, many of them classics. Visit emusic through this link and start a no-strings trial offer of 50 free mp3 downloads. Yeah, the link is big, but so is the offer.

Get 50 FREE MP3s!

August 23, 2005

ZUNIOR: Download of the Week is a net label, a tiny net label, based in Canada. They boast some very good music and I have purchased music from them myself.

Each week the label offers a free download off of one of it's releases and this week it's from Vancouver's, The Feminists. This is some very good indie rock.

Here is zunior's free download of the week from new release, She Could Be...

the feminists + brand new common sense

August 22, 2005

John Vanderslice: Pixel Revolt: Review

John Vanderslice
Pixel Revolt
[Barsuk - 2005]
*Sixeyes Score: 9.0 out of 10

How can John Vanderslice create a record that shows up nearly everyone else? And that's by sound alone, eschewing the rampant and ever advancing digital method, Vanderslice has once more done it the old fashioned way... he analoged it. Where others improve their sound by waiting for the latest digital innovation, John Vanderslice must use his imagination to uncover new ways of using old equipment. And this must be very appealing to an artistic soul such as Vanderslice. The dynamic of a band, a group of men playing music together must appeal as well, but where most approach this point of view musically, Vanderslice employs this influence from a much more cerebral angle. Utilizing the writing prowess and advice of The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle, and David Berman of The Silver Jews; and putting his faith and trust in the imagination and 'ears' of chief collaborator, sound engineer Scott Solter. Musically, Vanderslice gets amazing support from cellist, Erik Friedlander, and West Coast chanteuse, Nedelle.

Vanderslice's fifth release, Pixel Revolt, shimmers and sways, breathes upon the listener with perfumed breath, lulling you into the world of a man of many passions; passions which blend to create music that is without category, somewhere between indie pop/rock and cutting edge indie film. That is a broad category with many influences to rub off on the artist while moving from one end to the other. While moving from the first track to the last of Pixel Revolt which seems a much more personal affair than previous efforts. Themes of love in its many stages permeate a variety of songs. A self-acknowledged film junkie, again he offers up an ode to a cherished film; this time it is Lars Von Trier's, Element of Crime, in the song, "Continuation". Fourteen songs are Pixel Revolt and this album is as collaborative as the process of film. If the small crew of a short art film set about to record an album, it would be much like the process of Pixel Revolt.

A work like PR is, or can be, overwhelming. You could spend hour upon hour deconstructing, deciphering, decoding, what is embedded on that little plastic disc in your CD player. When you come right down to it, Pixel Revolt, may be a love letter from John Vanderslice to persons and things unknown, unknown to us and perhaps to it's author. But since the majority of evidence suggests that Vanderslice is an extremely generous person, I will say that this album is a love letter to everyone who listens to it. It's imagination, intelligence, talent, and generosity. It's hugs and kisses from John. But what these songs are, is brilliant, tiny films, coming down the line from a tiny telephone. A tiny telephone clutched in the fist of Mr. Vanderslice, so turn down the lights and pop the popcorn... the show is about to begin.

Buy Pixel Revolt

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

+ trance manual
+ exodus damage

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
emusic has a number of live John Vanderslice recordings available on the site. Get 50 free mp3s by signing up for their no strings trial offer through the sidebar advert link.


Pet Politics, a.k.a. Magnus Larsson, made a welcome splash just a short time ago in the tiny, but rabid mp3 blog scene. He did what countless others have done already and that was to make direct contact with a handful of bloggers and invite them to listen to the music on their website. Once in a great while the music is special and makes the ears prick up. Pet Politics is special. Magnus isn't doing anything truly different, it's just how the influences come out of his mind, hands, and throat, that give his music it's unique stamp. Now Magnus has once more utilized his Layla 20 Bit Multitrack to record a brand new song called, "The Ghost Mary and Her Friends" [mp3].

I have asked Magnus a handful of questions... here's what he had to say.


*Six: What influences and inspires the music you write?

Magnus: I get inspired of hearing a new record with some artists I like, for example, I Am A Bird Now, with Antony and the Johnsons (the best record of the year), it makes me wanna write new songs. I also get inspired of things around me, different situations.

*Six: Being a musician, I'll presume you are a music lover, and have a collection of albums you've been amassing for years. What in your collection would you never part with and why?

Magnus: Some of my favourite records are with artists/bands like: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Silver Jews, and Magnetic Fields. I never get tired of them.

*Six: What drives you to create music when there is little substantail pay-off, monetarily, at this point?

Magnus: It's a thing I have to do, I don't know why but I need to create melodies and write lyrics and I'm loving it.

*Six: Do you prefer the lo-fi flavour your songs acquire, recording the way you do, or do you dream of getting into a big multi-track studio?

Magnus: Yes I've always loved the lo-fi sound. Maybee one day I will record in a studio instead of doing it all by myself but only if I find people that can create the sound that I want to. I don't want it to be to clean.

*Six: I'm very surprised at your love for Antony, his music is so sweeping and dramatic... what is it you like so much about I'm A Bird Now?

Magnus: I love his voice and his melodies. I really like both of his records alot, they are really beautiful.

*Six: What is the live music scene like in Gothenburg? Do you play in the clubs much?

Magnus: The live scene in Gothenburg is ok, there are clubs for both signed and unsigned bands to play at, but of course it would be nice with some more places. I haven't started to do concerts yet, because "Pet Politics" is a pretty new project so I've been busy recording, but hopefully I will soon.

Listen to more Pet Politics...
+ in my head
+ the cold wind blows

Sixeyes: Objectionable Material?

Does anyone out there know what this 'flag' is doing in my navbar at the top of the screen? I just noticed it now and it's bothering me no end. Why is it there? Objectionable material? I don't understand? Has anyone else had this show up?

If you leave a comment you will have to type in a verify code as I am starting to get a helluva lot of spam comments.

DLTM by John Vanderslice

The talented indie musician/analog studio mogul, John Vanderslice, is the first to author this new semi-regular series (if I'm lucky), Don't Listen to Me. The idea behind the title being that a musician, like all musicians, who wants you to listen to his music, is saying, "Don't listen to me, listen to this...".

But of course you should listen to John Vanderslice, seeing how tomorrow is August 23rd, the release date of Pixel Revolt. But to listen, first you should buy.
[Buy] amazon [Buy] barsuk (label)

Here are JV's exclusive picks... my advice is to heed his.

The Kinks: Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire
Funny and sarcastic concept record from the Kinks, circa 1971. Written by Ray Davies for a British TV series that never got made. Anything they did within 5 years of this record is worth owning. [Buy]
Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch
Dolphy plays alto, flute, and the wonderful bass clarinet on this landmark jazz album. Recorded in 1964 by the great Rudy van Gelder. [Buy]
Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
Red Garland, Philly Joe Jones, and Paul Chambers join Pepper for these historic 1957 recordings. Pepper, knee-deep in drug problems, is backed by Miles Davis's players. Unreal. [Buy]
Tom Waits, Real Gone
I'm surprised this record hasn't gotten more attention from hardcore fans, as it may be his strongest in years. the record ends with a beautiful anti-war ballad, "Day After Tomorrow."
"Hows's It Gonna End?" from Real Gone
Podcasts of Harry Shearer's "Le Show"
Harry Shearer, AKA Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap, AKA Burns, Smithers, Otto, etc on The Simpsons, has been doing his show out of KCRW for 21 years. Strange, gutsy, and funny as hell.
Xiu Xiu, La Foret
Xiu Xiu's fractured follow-up to one of my favorite records of last year, Fabulous Muscles.
"Bog People" from La Foret "I Broke Up(SJ)" from Knife Play "Clowne Towne" from Fabulous Muscles
XTC: Drums and Wires
Fantastic post-punk album from 1979. Probably my favorite of their early, looser recordings. Produced by Steve Lillywhite and engineered by Hugh Padgham. [Buy]
Podcasts of On the Media from WNYC
Excellent public radio show that examines the tepid Iraq/Afghanistan coverage from US media and abroad.
On The Media Homepage
Lisa Germano: Slide
An understated masterpiece. This recording (by Tchad Blake) shows me how much meaning and possibility can be conveyed by using/misusing audio gear. Every instrument is treated, effected, and warped. Drums are heavily gated and impossibly compressed, baritone guitars and pump organs churn and wheeze. Slide sounds like the lyrics: claustrophobic, lonely, and depressed. [Buy]
Podcasts of KQED's Forum hosted by Michael Krasny
Just this week, Michael's had on David Boies, Harvey Pekar, Diane Ackerman, Malcom Gladwell, and Studs Terkel. The hour-long shows are simple one-on-one conversations with caller questions near the end.
Forum Homepage

*Album Downloads
Tom Waits' Real Gone
Xiu Xiu's La Foret
Eric Dolphy
Lisa Germano
You can find many of these albums and artists at emusic. Visit through the emusic advertising link in the sidebar.

August 21, 2005

Matt Marque: "Nothing Personal"

Singer/songwriter Matt Marque hails from the Windy City. His electro-folk-pop is warm and intimate. His first release was a homemade, cassette-only collection of songs called Lightbulb, Fork, String. It is, "... available somewhere in the mass of old tapes I still carry around with me, apartment to apartment." Signed in 2001 with TruckStop Records, he released Get There. In April of 2004, he released Nothing Personal.

"I eventually decided upon Nothing Personal because I liked the vagueness implicit in it, and of course the embarrassingly obvious double-meaning. ...As for comparing the two, I'm probably the least informed person to ask. I like both records but for wildly different reasons. I can say that this is the first record I've made that I have listened to more than 5 times after it was done. I'm really weird about that, or so I gather. I've probably listened to this one over a hundred times, which for me is bordering on the ridiculous. It's dense. It's sometimes lush. I like that. I keep hearing new things. It has its moments."

from Nothing Personal (CD):

from Get There (CD):
unknown flowers on your dress

from Disco Nap (7"):
flip and fuck


"This is one of my favourite labels and I usually don't say that easily or frequently, in fact the thought, "hey, this is one of my favourite labels", doesn't pop into my head very often at all. Until now, so why am I thinking and saying it now.... because I think you should visit their site, listen and read about the bands, visit band webpages through their links, and if you get lucky and find a new artist you love, well, go and buy their records and show off to your friends just how much of a closet hipster you really are." - *alan

Found in the wine country of Bourdeaux, France, Talitres Records houses an eccentric roster of worldly indie musicians from Britain, France, Canada, and the US.

+ the music lovers
That Summer

+ brand new scar
Piano Magic
+ night of the hunter
The National [rock]
+ murder me rachael
Destroyer [indie pop/chamber/rock]
students care hearts out of coal
The Birdwatcher [indie pop]
the hunt
Dakota Suite [indie adult pop-rock]
sand fools the shoreline
Elk City
+ Love's Like A Bomb

Floatation Toy Warning [baroque pop]
happy 13
+ pencil stick


tex la homa
the national
dakota suite
the walkmen
floatation toy warning
piano magic

That Summer
Elk City
piano magic
The Birdwatcher
The Walkmen
Dakota Suite
The National
Tex La Homa
Floatation Toy Warning

August 20, 2005

Soft / The Changes: MP3s

I have put songs by both these upcoming indie bands, Soft and The Changes, on *sixeyes before, but a few of these have not appeared here before... enjoy.

all that you're shown
You Make Me Wanna Die
Lucky Jam

The Changes
if i tried
her, you, and i
when i wake

*The Changes offer a number of live albums on*

Could this be "Pixel Revolt"?

Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck

When it comes to artistic endeavours and their creation, it would appear they are a lonely proposition and in most cases they are. Although there are the rare instances of an artist who will combine his skill with the knowledge and talents of another and as a result create something greater than the sum of their parts. In this case the parts include recording studio expertise, finely and artistically tuned ears and eyes, and a songwriting gift honed by years of practice. And also perhaps a pinch of self-doubt (one of the silent, but strong forces behind many artists' drive to create better work) and a generosity beyond what many of us are capable of. These are some of the qualities that musician John Vanderslice and renowned sound engineer, Scott Solter, bring to their fertile collaborations--the latest completed, and as of yet unreleased, being Pixel Revolt--an odd title which came from one of Vanderslice's favorite pastimes... movies. This is how he explained it to me...

"One very late night in February, I was watching Preston Sturges’s 1930’s farce “The Lady Eve”, when my satellite connection got strange. The screen froze, then stuttered, as Henry Fonda moved in stop motion, Barbara Stanwyck slowly came unglued, her face distorted by square wave digital artifacts. Entire scenes were lost somewhere in that winter sky.

When I woke up I had the title of the record."

Vanderslice's co-conspirator, Scott Solter, has also been an integral part in another musical collaboration with MC (Mike) Taylor, (The Court and Spark and EX-iGNOTA) called Boxharp. Boxharp's music being built upon field recordings gathered by Solter, music that is rich with atmosphere. I asked Scott Solter a couple of questions about his musical past and working with John Vanderslice.

Tell me how you came to be involved so heavily behind the board as opposed to behind the mic as a performer? You are obviously a very creative and talented musician.

Scott Solter: I would say that I’m more of a musical person rather than a musician. I’ve never really given a great deal of effort or time to playing instruments and I respect people who do. Having dabbled on and off for years with a myriad of instruments I just came to the conclusion that it’s the overall color and texture of records that I pay attention to. So about 6 years ago I decided I wanted to learn how to make records. From there I realized that my ‘jack-of-all-trade’ dabbling gave me the ability to speak the language of various instruments and thus better communicate with musicians about they are trying to achieve...both what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

When it comes to working on a John Vanderslice record, is it a much different experience than working with other artists? From what John says you would appear to have a large say in how or what gets put down on tape--is this how it works in your recording relationship?

SS: Working on this and the last of John’s records has been very much a collaborative process. I think John allows me so much latitude because we come from different musical tastes (with the exception of classical) and the result is that I’m going to come up with ideas that he wouldn’t have thought of (and visa versa). For instance, he may reference something from pop music whereas I might reference something from film soundtracks but we are both very curious people and never say NO to any idea until it is executed. With this relationship we fall into our natural roles during the recording and the differences often are what pulls the effort together and makes it distinctive.

I’ve enjoyed this kind of working relationship with other artists when they seek it out. I’ve experienced everything from total enthusiasm to confusion to resistance in the process; it just depends on the artist.

Pixel Revolt will be released August 23rd on Barsuk Records. Vanderslice will hit the road with a full band beginning September 30th running through to November 5th. He recently enthused this way about the band and upcoming tour on his homepage...

"Okay, I have shored up a f-ing great band for the fall tour

Ian Bjornstad: Wurlitzer, Moog Source
Dave Douglas: Drums, Keyboards
David Broecker: Bass, Keyboards
Dan Brennan: Live Sound, Samples

Ian played in Denton, TX bands (The Dooms UK) and roomed with Matt Pence. Dave D. you know and love from many JV tours. We stole Mr. Broecker form the Prom, a lovely band on Barsuk. Dan has toured extensively with Cursive and Good Life. I am very excited about this line-up. We're already in rehearsals and hope to play a good bit of Pixel Revolt in October. Dates coming soon!

PS. We're trying to get Ian to change his name to Daniel."

Keep an eye, or two, on *Sixeyes for full tour details when they become available.

Listen to Solter, Boxharp, and Vanderslice...

John Vanderslice from Pixel Revolt
*This is a repost, to remind all that JV's PIXEL REVOLT will be unveiled August 23rd.

August 19, 2005

The Black Spoons: My Dear Radium

The Black Spoons

The Black Spoons are a band to keep an eye on. Their song, "Your Softest Leather", opens with acoustic smoke - bearing a verse melody that draws from old English folke, I believe - but soon enough bursts into electric flame. Off of their debut, My Dear Radium, this is the lead off track...

+ your softest leather

**Download My Dear Radium from eMusic**

August 17, 2005

Interview :: Devendra Banhart

Devendra Banhart is a young man who comes to us from Texas by way of Caracas, Venezuela. Barely reaching into his middle twenties with long spindly fingers, Banhart has already carved out a mythic niche for himself through shamanic charisma, child-like artistry, and media hysteria. A potent combination that if befell a mainstream performer, would either kill them, or brand them the next Elvis. Banhart is far from the mainstream current, you'll find him floating on his back in a tiny, rocky stream, slipping over the rocks like a long slender leaf; a verdant green in the steely blue water. With a voice characterized as "a quivering high tension wire [src]", "beautiful [src]", and as "a strange and ineffable instrument [src]", Banhart can divide and conquer listeners with his voice alone. Divide into 'for or against' camps, pushing the 'against' down the stairs and out the door and drawing the 'for' closer into a world of little yellow spiders, friends named Will, dogs, beards, and sexy pigs.

With his fourth proper studio album and fifth recorded work, Cripple Crow, set to be released (Sept. 13/US) on his new label home, xl recordings, Banhart took some time out to answer a few questions.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*Sixeyes: Let's get right into Cripple Crow... what specifically inspired the songs on the new record?

Devendra Banhart: Dee Brown's [book], Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

The Music and words and allness of:
Simon Diaz
Atahualpa Yupanqui
Robbie Basho
Caetano Veloso
Secos E Molhados
Fajar Di Atas Awan

The friendship, love, and guidance of:

Thom Monahan
The Bunnybrains
Currituck Co.
The Espers
The Metallic Falcons
Tarantula A.D
Noah Georgeson
Lorandrew Georgopabaker

and Everyone and Everything ever.

*Six: Tell me... what was the biggest difference between how you worked on Cripple Crow as opposed to previous releases? Was there a difference?

Devendra: The difference was that even though there were definite themes and actual songs pre-written upon entering the studio, the whole things feels like a strange by-product of being in the Bearsville woods surrounded by our family [*six: Bearsville, NY, where Cripple Crow was recorded] .

*Six: There is a generous amount of songs on Cripple Crow... did you have many songs to choose from, are you as prolific as it seems? And do you find the process of picking and choosing tracks for a new record difficult?

Devendra: What makes this record not so good is the tiny amount of time we had to work on each song. We had one month to record 45 songs... it was too much, I should have kept it to 18 or so, lots of getting rid of songs, a bummer it was. We ended up with 35 at the end of the month, 22 for the record, the rest b sides, I couldn't save the rest for another album because they all came together, all came under the Cripple Crow source.

*Six: If you could make me a mixtape of what you think I should hear... what would be on it and why?

Devendra: You should hear Gordon Lightfoot covering Joni Mitchell's songs, some people can't do it, but holy cow can he! Also, check out Bobby Charles, he's the person who brought us to Bearsville.

*Six: From some articles I have read about you, you appear to harbor a stronger love for female singer/songwriters than male. Is that fair?

Devendra: I think its equal and I certainly don't think its because they are female, they simply happen to also be female, and then again, I wonder if that's true, female singer/songwriters might be in my opinion much stronger, less clouded, clearer, closer to themselves.

*Six: There is a blues feel to many of the songs you have penned, is this influence linear, or is it more a type of osmosis from listening to others with 'stronger' blues influences?

Devendra: Must be a seeped into me (osmosis) thing, I listen to lots of "Blues" stuff, but holy shit! I cant ever imagine people like Charlie Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, Bo Carter, Fred McDowell, Memphis Minnie, etc., ever seeping in. If anything it's seeped in to the danceable songs, I don't think it's for me to sit and use a blues structure in a me and guitar setting, naw that don't feel right for me, but chicken dancing and some blues go wing and wing.

*Six: What was the first song you wrote that made you think, 'Hey, this isn't bad'?

Devendra: I dont know.

*Six: The raven black crow is at times too smart for it's own good and branded by some as a symbol of death... Do you feel an affinity with the crow? And why title the album, Cripple Crow?

Devendra: Well, I said to myself, "What's the title?" and I heard from myself, " Look in books, think... feel words, extract the words from the songs, condense the record into a word or a couple of words, etc". Then I said to the creative spirit, "Whats the title?" and i heard, "Keep looking in all those places you told yourself to look, keep looking diligently, though it will not come from there, i will bring it to you if you keep looking in all the wrong places". And as I looked I began to hear, "I Am Cripple Crow, I Am Cripple Crow", so i was gonna call it, I Am Cripple Crow, but I thought it would look like I was saying... I, Devendra, am Cripple Crow, which I am not , Cripple Crow is the album, so I got rid of the I Am.

*Six: Do you love simplicity in song... the kind you find in children's songs, such as Itsy Bitsy Spider?

Devendra: Yes, I do, simplicty, essence, that's the goal. "Mister Rabbit Mister Rabbit"....perfect song that one.

*Six: Do you feel your songwriting is heading in a more simplified style, or are you craving to spin out more complicated songs?

Devendra: I dont think I'm capable of getting too complicated, though I do hope to string lots of little songs together in the future, still I don't want to never return to where I began on, Oh Me Oh My, or as a little kid writing songs for my dogs.

*Six: If it's true that 'you are what you eat'.... what are you?

Devendra: Seaweed.

*Six: And finally... What are your plans for the rest of this year and the coming year?

Devendra: I hope to go to Bahia and make a record with Vetiver and Arto Lindsay inspired by Caetano Veloso and Gal Costas fist record Domingo.

Releasing tunes by Jana Hunter (Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom, October 4th) on a label just formed with Andy Cabic from Vetiver and Gary Held from Revolver called, Gnomensong . Raising a garden and chicken dancing.

(*sixeyes thanks Howard Wuelfing, of Howlin' Wolf Media, for his assistance in securing this interview.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
You can stream Cripple Crow right here.

Devendra Banhart MP3s
from Rejoicing in The Hands
+ will is my friend
+ the body breaks
from Nini Rojo
+ be kind via
Live Radio Performance: KVRX

All of Devendra Banhart's released albums and his EP can be downloaded from eMusic.

Kyle Andrews

Chicago native, Kyle Andrews, makes 'hook heavy' indie pop. You will listen and wonder why you haven't heard this music before, or at least someone saying you should hear Kyle Andrews... uh, you should.

I'd also say that from the clever wordplay, the light idiosyncratic touchs that pop up now and again under the weightier, but far from heavy instrumentation; and Andrews distinctive pronunciation of some words, that he has a very clear picture of where he want his music to go. And he's having a lot of fun 'making it up'.

His first full-length work is titled Amos In Ohio on Fictitious Records. And it is some fine music, catchy as hell; I'm still trying to shake the 'viral' verses and contagious chorus of "Sushi". By writing about it here I hope to launch a Kyle Andrews pandemic, this is one malady... uhh, melody... that would be good to catch.

*Sixeyes asked Kyle some questions and he answered from Nashville.


*SIXEYES: How long have you been writing and performing your own songs?

KYLE: My curiosity for recording started out in the sixth grade. I couldn't play or sing, but I was in love with the idea of making an album. I would plug a pair of headphones into the mic input on a friends boom box and then wear the headphones with the earpiece snuggly on my mouth. I would hit record, improvising cassettes full of new "songs". I eventually upgraded to a 4-track cassette machine, which opened me up to the world of overdub. Now I work on Protools and do drum programming with reason software, but its all the same process as I originally started out, just hit record and make something up.

*SIXEYES: Where did you record, Amos In Ohio, and who helped you out?

KYLE: Amos in Ohio was recorded in my bedroom. My roommate and band member, Neil Mason, played the live drums, which consist of maybe half the record. We just put one mic up in the hall way and recorded him playing to tracks I had already started. Most of his takes were the first or second time he had heard the song.

*SIX: Nashville is so identified with country, how is the indie pop/rock scene in town?

KYLE: There are a lot of great bands. I'd say Nashville rivals just about any place. Music row, the business side of town is mostly country but in the venues, its more rock.

*SIX: I'm not going to ask your influences, but I will ask... what inspires you?

KYLE: I love enthusiasm, I get inspired watching or listening to any band that has passion for what they are doing. I rarely can sit through another artist's show, with out suddenly wishing I was at home writing a new song, or that I was playing my own show. You see something great and you want to be contributing.

+ sushi
+ amos in ohio

You can find a couple more mp3s on his myspace page
BUY Amos In Ohio here.

August 15, 2005

eMusic is the first

*Sixeyes has finally given into the lure of the almighty dollar. Today marks the first time that this blog has displayed advertising on the site. I've started with eMusic, a mp3 download service that I have been a member of for about one year. I will earn a small commission if you sign up for their great free trial of 50 mp3 downloads, no strings attached; and a slightly larger commission if you decide to sign up for one of their 3 plans: basic, plus, and premium. Give it a try, click the banner below, or the skyscraper ad in the sidebar.

August 14, 2005


I write reviews and interviews for and, well... here are two song reviews... the first from a few months back and the second off of Portastatic's upcoming release on Merge Records: Bright Ideas: August 23, 2005.


What if Hayden split in two? What if the two halves, that combine to make the somnolent smoky croak that curls from his larynx; what if they were singular and distinct? That is the image, the idea, that came to mind as I heard Ida's "Late Blues" for the first time. The singers do not combine to recreate Hayden, they recall him in the soft smoke of the man and woman singing together. And it doesn't hurt that this songs sure sounds like a Hayden song -- in it's late night slow ebb, it's slinky alt-countryish instrumentation -- like jazz played by drunken cowboys.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Mac McCaughan and band, Portastatic, kick out a 'made-for-bygone-radio' classic in "I Wanna Know Girls". The kind of song that would have roared from 'top down' cars twenty or more years ago, each and every radio tuned to the same station. That doesn't happen anymore, at least I don't think it does. This song has something for everyone, the simple pattern and great tone of the guitar line (air guitar), swooping back up vocals (sing along), and a big sound (woofer and tweeter nuts). Do you know The Wrens? It takes these guys awhile to get their sound sounding like they want. Not sure if they're slow or very picky. The band's sound 'sounds' heavy and thick... dense, without being so. Kinda like the weather lately, heavy, humid air that feels heavy, but isn't. Take some scissors and snip away at a Wrens song. The 3rd or 4th guitar... snip. The 4th or 5th vocal track... snip. Snip away at the dense aural weave of a Wrens song like "Per Second Second"... and you are still looking at brilliance. "I Wanna Know Girls" is brilliance, tight and concise. Like cruising in a convertible, top down, AC on.

+ I Wanna Know Girls
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
>>IDA and PORTASTATIC albums can be downloaded from eMusic<<

August 13, 2005

One More: Jose Gonzalez

Jose Gonzalez has sparks spraying from his fingertips as his nails pull from his guitar, clear, vibrant notes. From his latest disc, Veneer, on Hidden Agenda Records, Gonzalez will have a hard time shaking the Nick Drake tag if he keeps putting out songs like "Stay In The Shade". But it is a good one, his voice mournful and matching the droning note of his guitar.

+ stay in the shade

**Jose Gonzalez can be downloaded at eMusic**

August 12, 2005

Bitter Bitter Weeks

Brian McTear is the name and the man behind the one-man-band and album, Bitter Bitter Weeks. McTear, better known as an award winning producer in Philadelphia, released the solo debut two years ago, but since I am just discovering it now, you will have to bear with me.

The music is unadorned and yet... still very nearly adorable. Guitar strummed, banjo plucked, keys tickled songs - all tied together by McTear's liquid rasp, tailor made for indie stardom and yet the music is too quiet for your average indie rock fan. The two songs, "Sage" and "You Paralyze My Heart", sound like great demos for some soon to be released indie band's debut. One that I would definitely want to get a hold of. Although, I must add that the new track, "The Endlights", is a step closer to indie nirvana and definitely does not resemble in any way, shape, or form, even the most amazing demo - it is the work of a maturing artist with still fresh ideas.

from 'Revenge' released July 2004:
+ the endlights

from his debut:
+ sage
+ you paralyze my heart

bonus: + revenge

*this is a re-post from August 2004.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Web Nymph, the aggregator for music and much more, has just unveiled their redesigned page... it looks great. Take a look.

August 11, 2005


photo by Douglas McGowan

This is soft music with sharp detail. Soft as dirt you've just turned with a shovel. And now you can see something in that dirt, something you didn't notice before. It's sharp, it's edges filed to a desired shape... they are letters... and words... the lyrics of Ill Lit. This is the detail, poking from the soft loam.

Ill Lit is band of old minds, but young hands and ears - they drape their songs in Americana dust (and dirt), then knock some of it off with electronic gurgles, clangs, and squiggles.

+ freeway
+ christmas larose
+ spring chicken
+ diner girls
+ in the thick
+ other people's wives
**Ill Lit albums can be downloaded from eMusic**

August 09, 2005

Pet Politics

Pet Politics is the name that Swede, Magnus Larsson, has adopted. Living in Gothenburg, Sweden, the 31 year-old records in his apartment, playing all instruments. The music of Pet Politics is lo-fi, perhaps due to the situation it is recorded in, and 'indie' in style. Magnus' voice is very appealing, a sugared rasp that fits well within the sounds he coaxs out of the instruments. Not sure which song I like more, "In My Head" has a strong, rough hewn melody, pushed along by Magnus' churning guitar and the simple drum pattern. "The Cold Wind Blows" takes a slower route, but once again boasts the kind of backbone any good song needs, a hummable melody.

+ In my head
+ The cold wind blows


If you like what you find here, you can mine similar veins of music at Radio Indie Pop -- an internet radio station guaranteed to have something you haven't heard before. I have to thank them for introducing me to The Brokedown.

If you take the time to check them out you'll hear stuff like:
The Arcade Fire, The Raveonettes, Bright Eyes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Longwave, Interpol, Stephen Malkmus, Grandaddy, The Shins, and The Dandy Warhols..... and a lot more.

Radio Indie Pop is commercial free... so spead the word, you are their advertising.

"Exodus Damage" John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice's "Exodus Damage" is now officially being offered by Barsuk as a free download! You have to hear this song. If "Trance Manual" wasn't convincing enough that you must seek out this album when it magically appears in your corner shops on August 23rd, then this must be what you are waiting for. Another example of the phenomenal aural canvas that Vanderslice creates with his collaborator, Scott Solter.

Free Download...
+ exodus damage

I’ll see you next fall
at another gun show
I’ll call the day before, like usual

but I wanted so much more
I got exodus damage bleed,
could not commit, some things I’ll never be

so now we’re talking about this
I’m starting to lose my confidence
no one ever says a word about
so much that happens in the world

dance dance revolution
all we’re gonna get
unless it falls apart
so I say: go go go
let it fall down
I’m ready for the end

so the second plane hit at 9:02
I saw it live on a hotel tv, talking on my cell with you
you said this would happen, and just like that, it did
wrong about the feeling, wrong about the sound
but right to say we would stand down

an hour went by without a fighter in the sky
you said there’s a reason why
so tell me now, I must confess
I’m not sick enough to guess

dance dance revolution
all we’re gonna get
unless it falls apart
so I say: go go go
let it fall down
I’m ready for the end

so you hope that one person
could solve everything
and for me, that’s you
sometimes that dream
is a sad delusion
but sometimes it’s true

so now we’re talking about this
I’m starting to lose my confidence
no one ever says a word about
so much that happens in the world

dance dance revolution
all we’re gonna get
unless it falls apart
so I say: go go go
let it fall down
I’m ready for the end

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

jv: acoustic guitars
matt henry cunitz: mellotron vocal choir/pipe organ
and mellotron strings/flute
alex decarville: drums
dave douglas: drums
scott solter: theme, ad202 baldwin organ, baritone,
baya drum, vibraphone, treated tabla drums, wahed guitar

technorati tags mp3 music download

August 08, 2005

Rademacher: 'Playing For Fun'

I mentioned the band Rademacher a while back, I had really liked their song, "They Are Always Into That". Now I get word they are wrapping up work on their latest EP, Ice Age. To be released on Greytank Records this fall, it will feature this track, "Playing For Fun". A song which finds the singer waltzing through an acoustic carnival full of tempered guitar twang, crashing cymbals, and reedy organ. Trying to weave up through it all is the very distinctive vocal of that singer, Mike M; bearing a voice that once you've heard it, you won't mistake for anyone else.

+ playing for fun

Tour Dates
8/27/2005 – Jerry’s Pizza – Bakersfield, CA – 7 PM
8/30/2005 – OFF THE AIR - The Fat Cat – Modesto, CA – 7 PM
8/31/2005 – Fort Oregon – Berkeley, CA – 8 PM
9/1/2005 – Tokyo Garden – Fresno, CA – 9:30PM
9/4/2005 – The Alibi – Arcata, CA – 10:30PM
9/5/2005 – Mattress Monday @ Tiger Bar – Portland, OR
9/6/2005 – Dante's – Portland, OR


John Vanderslice: The Interview

The Vanderslice interview now appears here in it's entirety with photographs and mp3 downloads - the text of this interview first appeared on

JV by Peter Hughes @

John Vanderslice is a nice guy. A nice guy who makes music like a pointillist paints... painstakingly dabbing the canvas until the desired effect has been achieved. Okay, maybe he's passed the brush around a bit on his latest effort, Pixel Revolt... namely to John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats), David Berman (The Silver Jews), Erik Friedlander, and Scott Solter. Well, Solter definitely had his own brush. In fact Solter has been noted as a collaborator on previous projects with Vanderslice and other artists, most notably Boxharp, an endeavour led by MC (Mike) Taylor, (The Court and Spark and EX-iGNOTA). Boxharp create atmospheric western-aural pieces built upon field recordings. Imagine Calexico minus the heavy Mexican influences, Boxharp's music conjures the sharp coolness, and equally sharp heat, of the American desert.

Once again set to unveil a new collection of slaved over songs entitled, Pixel Revolt (Barsuk), John Vanderslice spoke to *Sixeyes' Alan Williamson (this interview first appeared in it's entirety on Better Propaganda.) Vanderslice shares his thoughts on the new record, inspiration, and his collaboration with Scott Solter; a collaboration that seems to bring out the best in both.

*Sixeyes: First off, could you give me an idea of what Pixel Revolt is all about? Is it a concept album, are the songs related in some way?

John Vanderslice: Well, it was just a normal record. You know write a lot of songs, bring in a lot of my friends to play on it and go to work. But somewhere in the middle of the process I started writing less and less in my usual far-flung narratives and more autobiographical. So there are a few songs on the record that are unadorned statements of truth. A 'first ever' for me. Which ones, I'll never say.

Cellar Door (his last album) seemed to be about family as tyranny. The themes of this record could be summed up as:

Yes, war is dangerous, but our emotional life, especially love, is more so.

The strongest convictions can be overturned in a second if real life offers up contradicting evidence.

There are rational reasons for being an anti-government nut.

Love and desire continue, even if you try to shield yourself from the outside world.

No one can save you, but believing that someone can save you may save you.

*Six: It's been well documented by countless magazines, websites, and zines, that you are a cinema connoisseur, an out and out film freak. So, with an eye to that fact, have any films made their way into the new batch of songs you have slaved over this time out? In the same way that Mulholland Drive and Requiem for a Dream inspired tracks on Cellar Door.

JV: Well, movies certainly have influenced me on the new record, but I tried harder to hide it! There is one song that was directly inspired by a film... I wrote "Continuation" right after seeing Lars Von Trier's Element of Crime. It's his first feature, and it concerns a detective trying to piece together an unsolved series of murders. A hunted serial killer dies in a car crash, and his specific ways of killing are only known to the detectives on the case. So when more bodies turn up with those telltale signs of the deceased serial killer, the only suspects are other detectives who know the clues. It's a brilliant film, very stark and beautifully shot. Most of the other songs on the record are much more autobiographical.

*Six: Your new song, "Peacocks in the Video Rain" (originally titled "High and Low"), maybe I am way, WAY, off here, but is it related to Michael Jackson? The lines... "...silly pop singer, an off the wall ringer..." and "...mapping out your moves...", put me in mind of Jackson.

JV: The song is not about Michael Jackson. But you're close! It's about someone who is influenced by him. It's a song about un-ironically loving a pop star.

*Six: So are you a fan of Michael Jackson's from way back? Just what inspired "Peacocks"?

JV: Oh yes, I love Off the Wall and Thriller. Amazing records.

Well, sometimes I start with an idea, an aphorism that I try to make into a song. This song started as: What happens to love, the need to give and receive it when there is no real place to put it? As our narrator is unable to have a normal, healthy relationship, it gets projected on to a pop singer. But it's meaningful love, nonetheless... At least to him.

*Six: Another new track titled, "New Zealand Pines", seems personal, is it?

JV: Yes, that song is about my ex-girlfriend, Terri Olson. TMO on all my records, starting with Mass Suicide Occult Figurines (Vanderslice's solo debut). She has everything to do with my music. She runs a clothing company in SF and is a creative genius.
*Six: Oh, so I'm guessing that you two spent some time there... is travelling a passion of yours? ...And what is a TMO?

JV: That song takes place in Golden Gate Park, at the Strybing Arboretum, where they have micro-climates laid out on a walking tour. So it's about walking in the park as a substitute for real travel, real emotional engagement.

TMO is an abbreviation for Terri Marie Olson, that's her full name. She was always listed that way on my records.

*Six: Oh... I thought it was something like 'transcendental meditation official'.

Earlier we touched on movies as a creative source for you, now how about other types of media... art, books, photography, have any of these been inspiring to you on the new album -- or for that matter, past songs?

JV: Well, Terri was a technical term I was very familiar with!!

I was VERY into painting for a long time: Max Ernst, Max Beckmann, and Paul Klee. I am going to NY in May to see the Ernst exhibit there. At one point I wanted to be an art history teacher. That's all I wanted. I still think I would've been very happy doing that. I have to say there was something about the distortion that Paul Klee added to his watercolors and prints that changed the way I thought about music. Maybe that there was a kind of dissonance that I needed to be present and it could exist on a different surface than the narrative content. This may sound loopy, but it certainly changed me.

*Six: Then do you, or have you, used distortion as the basis for any of your songs?

JV: "Pale Horse", the first song on Cellar Door, was a study in distortion. Scott and I wanted to see how much we could stack up and still have a coherent song. The problem: it's really hard to get high-quality distortion, you really have to think about it. It's an extreme type of overload, a violent clipping of an amp capability, so you have to do it with equipment that provides beautiful and forgiving forms of it. Distortion in music can subvert and complicate existing instruments, and a little of it can go a long way to providing the necessary dissonance.

Mp3 Download + pale horse

*Six: Did you ever see, or use, lyrics as a form of distortion? By editing, or whittling away at your words you could cause a distortion, or blurring, in the mind of the listener?

JV: Oh yes, the way I like to create distortion in lyrics is to have an unreliable narrator. Like the guy who blames Bill Gates for his addiction to internet pornography in "Bill Gates Must Die" or the homicidal bird-watcher in "Up Above the Sea". Then the listener is forced to make decisions about the singer and the facts as given by that person. Are they true? What is the real motivation of this person? I love stuff like that. John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats) by the way, is the master of that approach.

Mp3 Download + bill gates must die

*Six: The selection of instruments on Pixel Revolt's songs, was that a group decision? And some of the instruments listed in the credits: ebowed landscape guitar, sky saw guitar, and space station... I've never heard of these, what are they?

JV: I try to name things more colorfully than most liner notes. I want to give an idea that a lot of these sounds are designed and we're going for a specific thing, sonically, with them.

The ebowed landscape guitar was played by Scott, it's a brilliant thing he figured out... If you use an ebow on acoustic (instead of electric) guitar, you get these fantastic string noises and resonances along with a pure tone of an unstruck guitar note. Scott then played a dozen or so of these different notes and submixed them together (hence the landscape part).

Sky saw guitar refers to a credit that (Robert) Fripp got on a Brian Eno record (Another Green World). We were shooting for that sound...not easy... and also giving it props.

Space station is an insanely great (and rare) pedal. It produces those weird backwards guitar sounds and also the kind of waterfall-of-synthesized noises after the choruses.

*Six: I was listening to a track off of MGM Endings, "Bomb in Reverse", and noticed a striking similarity between segments of it and the PR track, "Trance Manual". How did that come about... were you aware of it?

JV: Oh yeah, there is so much repetition with what Scott (pictured left) and I do. Often we obsess over one thing for a few weeks and move on, sometimes it goes on for years. Both of those songs have a lot of sonic landscaping: "Bomb in Reverse" using a lot of tape loops and "Trance Manual" using a lot of ebowed guitars and moogs. But the one thing they really have in common is church bells: these hand held church bells you have to wear white gloves to use. Each bell is a tone, Scott would lay them all on a table and play melodies by choosing the right note in sequence. The bells on "Trance Manual" have been put through a delay that gives them a shimmering regeneration that I think sounds pretty great. Again, its all Scott's doing. Thank God I have him.

Mp3 Download:
+ trance manual
+ bomb in reverse

*Six: That's really interesting, the fact that the two of you recycle bits and pieces, are there any other examples of this on Pixel Revolt? Or, for that matter, other albums?

JV: Yeah, Scott and I recycle as much as we can remember to. We would actually be a lot more repetitive if we ever took notes during tracking. We like working within prescribed boundaries, but usually Scott never repeats mic combinations or signal chains; there is a certain amount of anarchy to our sessions. A lot of musicians are very surprised when they hear the final result because the method is loose and disorganized.

*Six: While checking out your website,, I noticed that your final track list and sequencing for Pixel Revolt had changed more than a touch. How much time do you spend on this part of making a record? Do you fret over the order of songs, or is it more an exercise or perhaps a debate with your longtime engineer, Scott Solter, or maybe even friends? Does everyone want to put his or her two cents worth in?

JV: Yes, everybody in my crew has a say. I try to be as democratic as possible... while retaining the autocrat's final cut... So once everyone's involved, things change very fast. They are all articulate people with refined aesthetic views, so thing's can get tricky.
David Berman (The Silver Jews) provided some titles to me that were too good to pass up (Letter to the East Coast, Exodus Damage, Peacocks in the Video Rain).

And yes, Scott has more input than anyone else. I will usually listen to his ideas unless I really disagree with him. Which is not often. Ordering this record was harder for me because it's so much longer (55 minutes) than any one I've done before.

*Six: "Pixel Revolt", the title track, appeared to have disappeared or been re-named, along with another song vanishing completely. How hard is it to make these decisions, to lose, or to cut away, a piece of music you'd written and must have been happy enough with to spend time and money to get on tape during the sessions?

JV: Once we settled on Pixel Revolt as the record title, I had to rename the song "Letter to the East Coast," it puts too much weight on a song to be a title track.

We did cut a song... "The Kingdom"... from the record. Barsuk wanted to hold a song for Japan/Europe. And they made a good case to me that the record worked better without it. That was not easy to do. Everything about making a record is hard. If a band makes a record, that's really a kind of achievement there, really. Especially if it sounds good. When I think of bands without a budget making great sounding, interesting records at home, like Minus Story, or Midlake, I am filled with intense joy and feel honored to be in the same business as they are.

I can't even imagine how films like Punch-Drunk Love or Confessions of a Dangerous Mind are made.

*Six: I love Minus Story, a great band.... And a couple of very good films you mentioned there; I've seen them both. With your documented love of film and photography, I'm wondering if you are tempted to sit in a director's chair, to draw up storyboards for video treatments of your songs or the songs of others?

JV: Well, I got close to having a video made of "White Plains" that was going to be on 32mm film. But god it was so expensive! We had it storyboarded and I think it would've been pretty great. But you have to have serious cash to get into even processing film like that. I think there'll be a video for Pixel Revolt, but it won't be on film.

I would love to be involved with film or video, but I have this feeling that I should...and can... only concentrate on one thing at a time. It is SO difficult to put together a record in the way you hear it in your head. I'm always afraid I'll lose focus if I do anything other than record. That's one of the reasons why I don't produce very often.

*Six: You know, for me a John Vanderslice song is very cinematic, very visual, the lyrics a story which could often stand on their own, away from the music. A good example would be an old favorite of mine from Mass Suicide Occult Figurines, "Big Band Stars". Do you operate from a very visual perspective when writing or would that be something peculiar to only certain songs? I mean, I just get the feeling you wrote "Big Band Stars" from more of a visual sense than an internal, intellectualized one.

JV: Yes that's true about "Big Band Stars". That's actually a true story, my friends and I would climb these radio towers near my home in Potomac, Md. it was fantastically dangerous. We would go to the absolute top, and the pole would be swaying by three or four feet, back and forth, in the wind, 100 yards up.

Movies are the most important thing to me. I think it's key that's it's not my field, it helps me enjoy them more. I see at least 5-7 movies a week... Usually on cable or DVD... Mostly on Turner Classic Movies, IFC, and Sundance.

So maybe one of the things you hear in the lyrics is a singer who wants nothing more than to be a filmmaker?

Mp3 Download + big band stars

*Six: From articles and stories I have read in the past, your previous answers, and how you rely on others opinions and talents, I am starting to get a feel for how collaborative the making of a John Vanderslice record is... not unlike the making of a film. I have never thought of it that way before, do you feel this analogy is honest?

JV: Yeah, it is very collaborative. It's all about Solter and Darnielle on Pixel Revolt. Every breath and note on PR had something to do with Scott. He was there for almost all the tracking and played tons of instruments, way more than I did. He also has a lot to do with what musicians we bring in.

All of the lyrics were work-shopped by John Darnielle. For that I was tremendously lucky. He made me a better writer and gave me tons of revisions, sometimes even adding lines and verses. He is my favorite lyric writer. I thought it would be a lot more difficult. It's hard to take direction! But he knows how to add and subtract without killing the thing.

*Six: In an interview you did for 'Independent Musician', you said, regarding improvisation and spontaneity on stage, that you much prefer to have everything mapped out and planned down to the nth degree until it becomes rote, kind of like automatic writing, I quote...

"The funniest thing is that that auto-pilot that you do go on is the most blissful feeling in the world. When everything becomes unconscious, you find little holes, a little wiggle-room for variation. There's nothing more enjoyable then when you are up there singing and playing and find moments where, I swear to God, there's no physical effort whatsoever to play the song. And it's like you're standing there listening to a stereo. You're removed from the process and you are on autopilot, but you're so blissful and I cannot tell you. I mean, I go on tour for that feeling..."

Now, I'm wondering what you love about the recording process--you are renowned for taking your time and not rushing your records gestation period--is there an area of the process that also gives you an indescribable feeling... What feeling do you go into the studio hoping to regain or to finally discover?

JV: Well, the thing that brings me into the studio is actually the feeling I get the next morning listening to rough tracks on my stereo at home. In the studio, there's not much perspective, Scott and I work very quickly and often in the dark. We don't know the value of a lot of what we do until later. If it doesn't work, we erase it... one of my favorite things in the world, it feels as creative as recording.

I guess one thing I look for is a sonic landscape that is new and supports the lyrical content of the song, like the haunting ebowed acoustic guitars that Scott did in "Plymouth Rock".

*Six: Each time I hear "Dear Sarah Shu", I am struck by the line, "...regards from the other side of the teeth", is that your line or a 'Darnielle'? Also, in "Trance Manual", the chorus, "Come to me now/you are warming weather/ come to me now/ the kind that comes with sandbags along the river...". I love the mixed imagery of love, desire, spring, and a swollen river. Again, is this yours or Darnielle's?

JV: The "regards" line is mine. The first half of the "Trance Manual" chorus is JD's, the second half is mine. By the way, "Trance Manual" was initially set in San Francisco. JD pushed me to exoticize the song and add another emotional dimension to it... the Iraqi prostitute as a "flag of a dangerous nation".

*Six: Why two drummers on the tracks "Plymouth Rock", "Exodus Damage", and "Peacocks..."? What were you and/or Scott trying to bring to the music by employing two drummers? And incidentally, is there any significance that the only tracks employing two drummers are one right after the other on the record?

JV: Wow, I hadn't thought of the fact that the songs are grouped like that. You are perceptive, my son. Scott and I found that in adding a second drum set... usually at the very end... we could have a percussion track that responds to the song as developed. We usually put the drummers at an extreme disadvantage when playing the initial tracks: sometimes there's only a scratch vocal, a single guitar, or nothing at all. There is a very nice propulsive thing that happens when two drum sets are motoring along. It's something that Spoon used a lot on their earlier records.

*Six: I see that you contributed to Spoon's new disc, Gimme Fiction, along with your stalwart engineer, Scott Solter. Was this a planned contribution or did the pair of you just stumble into the sessions one day? Did Britt Daniel or Jim Eno explain what they wanted or did you get free rein to help shape the song, "Was It You"?

JV: We had talked about it with them for a few months before coming to Austin (Texas). It was pretty open book; those guys work in a very similar way to how Scott and I do. We all sit around, brainstorm, record tons of stuff quickly without self-editing, and figure it out in mix down. I am really close to Jim (Spoon drummer, Jim Eno), his studio and mine have grown up together and in many ways, we've driven each other to buy more gear. He has a very beautiful, restored Neve console.

*Six: In an earlier question about inspiration for this new album, you said...

"... movies certainly have influenced me on the new record, but I tried harder to hide it!"

Why would you make an effort to hide it? Did it bother you that the influences on Cellar Door were, at times, obvious, which may have made the others appear autobiographical? Are you trying to maintain an air of mystery? To try and create more of a 'hazy veil' between the fictional songs and the more personal ones?

JV: Well, I felt that the device of writing "love letters to movies" had served me well and I needed to move on. I try very hard to change key parts of my writing process. Both Time Travel is Lonely and Life and Death of an American Fourtracker were loose concept records with overarching story lines. I needed to rediscover the pop song as discrete statement. God, I hope this doesn't sound pretentious. I think about these nuts and bolts ideas so little. But as time passes, the reason I'm writing songs shifts. There are many autobiographical songs on the new record, but I will always exaggerate and amplify the truth, like every other self-absorbed songwriter!

Mp3 Download: Time Travel Is Lonely
Life And Death Of an American Four-Tracker

*Six: In the liner notes you state that... "The lyrics of Pixel Revolt have been edited, expanded and otherwise improved upon by John Darnielle." Was this a one on one collaboration, or did you leave the lyrics with him and he worked alone?

JV: I would send him a lyric and he would call or email me back changes, ideas, comments. Some emails were short and sweet: "this works well, strengthen the opening verse, change this word...etc." others were involved 3 or 4 revisions and line and verse ideas. What's scary about John is how good his cast off and throw away lyrics are, he has notebooks full of TOTALLY brilliant stuff at his house. He is my favorite writer.

*Six: When it comes to writing, do you always approach it as work or more of a release of energy? And also, were the songs for Pixel Revolt conceived in the same manner as songs written for previous albums?

JV: Well, at it's best it's a release of energy. But like everything, you are only inspired for a small amount of time compared with how LONG it takes to complete a record. There were dozens of days spent at my desk with a blank notebook and no ideas, staring out at the summery San Francisco skyline. Sometimes waiting for inspiration is a kind of torture, I understand completely why there's so much drug use and deviant behavior in this line of work!!

Some of the worst songs I've written were produced in a fever pitch of heated inspiration. Some of the better ones were written in a calm and workman-like state.

These songs (on Pixel Revolt) were written on the same guitar, same desk, same uni-ball pen, same laser printer paper, same view as all my solo records.

*Six: August 23rd is Pixel Revolt's due date, which is still some time away, what will you be up to during that time and what does the future hold for you beyond that date?

JV: Well, this is a strange time, the months after the record is turned in and before it's released. It's a kind of limbo. I try to keep recording and writing, if I can. Scott Solter and I recorded a live to 2-track LP in May. It's acoustic versions of all the songs on pixel revolt. We did it in the Tom Waits room at Prairie Sun (Prairie Sun Recording, where Waits and his wife, Kathleen Brennan, recorded the entire Grammy winning Bone Machine album). Then it will be a solo promo tour (summer) and a full US tour (Oct 1-Nov 7.)

*Six: That's very interesting, that you already re-recorded the Pixel Revolt songs again, albeit in a different way... just why did you?... were you reluctant to leave these songs? Did you think you could find something new by approaching them in a different way?

JV: I did the live to 2-track recording because it will help me get good at playing these songs alone, which I'll be doing a lot in the fall. I was blown away by the Magnolia Electric Company bonus disc, from the first album, that featured acoustic "kitchen recordings", the songs can live an entirely different life if done alone. I wouldn't say I'm reluctant to leave the songs, usually I am so happy to be done with stuff and move forward. I'll probably start tracking a new record in July.

View John Vanderslice Tour Dates
Photo Credits:
Top picture of JV by The Mountain Goats, Peter Hughes.
Both smaller pics of 'Scott Solter' and 'JV performing' by Jared Hankins.