On the surface, John Vanderslice seems like just another in a long line of melancholy singer-songwriters. Frankly, even if a slew of mopey indie-folk songs were his only contribution to the American music canon, he'd still be worthy of praise, just because he does that whole mopey indie-folk thing so well. But Vanderslice has also established a reputation as one of the last remaining proponents of old-school analog recording techniques. Death Cab for Cutie, Okkervil River, and Spoon are among the acts that have recorded at Vanderslice's San Francisco-based Tiny Telephone studio. He's also an accomplished amateur photographer, having taken publicity shots for the likes of Thao Nguyen and The Mountain Goats. But let's face it: It's the austere indie rock that keeps people coming out to his shows, and Vanderslice's latest, White Wilderness, is no disappointment in that regard. It was recorded with the Magik*Magik Orchestra and features a wider variety of instrumentation than the acoustic guitars and synths dominating his previous works. Vanderslice left the orchestra at home for this tour, so expect sparser arrangements for some of the new material. With artists like Vanderslice, however, sparser is often better.
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