Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
One of David Vandervelde's many talents is having a astute knack for identifying and singling out the fumbling cornball ideas and sentiments that certain mainstream artists pollute their songs with. It's like a party trick - a really amusing one. He does this thing - fairly regularly in conversation and when there's a second's break in the conversation, whether this is in a backyard, a living room, a bar or a car - where he busts out a living and ever-evolving recitation of a never-finished song that carries the guises of THE guitar rock bands of the day. He summons the grumble, bawl at the moon voices of Creed's Scott Stapp, Nickelback's Chad Kroeger and all of the other stereotypical alternative rock blights into a convulsing aberration of the theory - his own theory - of which key words, phrases, clichés and body languages sell records to the masses these days. He apes the sounds and the styles of the guys who make the music that passes for popular grit for the majority of people. And even if that thought or opinion (of the lack of talent or sincerity of the aped in question) comes from someone or a few people sitting on the fringes, it doesn't make the knocking or the disgust for other tastes any less valid. Vandervelde can laugh about his collage of shit nuggets, and he does, because he works wholly on the other side of the pendulum. It makes his rendition or his opinion of what makes a hit a hit all the more uproarious. He sings about deathbeds and birthdays and applies thick layers of soggy sap to his ongoing mockery of the triumphant drabbery involved with the way some people appreciate their music. Happily, it can be reported that Vandervelde studies these tendencies and trends and what gets the breadbasket of America off more times than not, but he doesn't bring them into his practices, his personal spaces. It's almost as if the advice of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is the way to approach writing meaningful songs by understanding bad ones. His ways and his retro-lovely abilities aren't fed by such frivolous and asinine base feelings as the ones that fill most arenas. It's not of the Pavlov's dog model of rock and roll making, but instead it's tapped into a circuitous pipeline of good, old-fashioned romanticism of value and having someone to hold close. It's a golden exhibition of the tried and true examples of what works in a song, but it's not full of redundancy or pandering. The Nashville musician's latest record - Waiting For The Sunrise -- is a departure from his debut, featuring the Moonstation Band, which tended to float more heavily on T. Rex and Rolling Stones-like debauchery and hedonism, big psychedelic moments that could make people think about all the weed they could conceivably smoke, vintage automobiles (ones that could use a messy back seat) and the cult classic concert film "Heavy Metal Parking Lot." It was a whole lot of the strawberry fields forever kind of feeling, mixing with a rawer dirtiness and suddenly Vandervelde returns, showcasing more of the here comes the sun pop side of himself, stripping off the hazy insignificancies and leaving the songs to speak for themselves. They bear witness to the spontaneous nature of writing a song full of resonance and summery sunshine, that contrivances and automated response triggers have no place in a memorable piece of humming good times. These songs are flannel shirts and bathing by the riverbed. They are like getting up in the morning and not having a single care in the world besides what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how you're going to spend your quality time with the person you love.
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