Music Reviews

John Vanderslice

Mass Suicide Occult Figurines


Based out of San Francisco, John Vanderslice runs the Tiny Telephone recording studio. He also stays busy maintaining a music website – a high-res MP3 hub, including rare, unreleased, and live tracks by Jeremy Enigk, Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith, Grandaddy, Spoon, Creeper Lagoon, and Death Cab For Cutie. In the midst of all this activity, Vanderslice has found time to record his solo work. Musically, Mass Suicide Occult Figurines bears the markings of northwest indie, sounding like a more riff-driven Elliott Smith, although vocally, Vanderslice more resembles Built to Spill or Sunny Day. If a little unimaginative, Mass Suicide has its striking moments. The nervy opener, “Confusion Boats,” is one such instance. The fiercely anti-corporate “Big Band Stars” is another high point. Other tracks don’t come off as well. For instance, it’s hard to tell how firmly tongue is planted in cheek on “Bill Gates Must Die,” a menacing indie-rock jeremiad. Criticisms aside, there’s no doubting Vanderslice’s convictions or commitment. He’s made the entire album available at – not a move the weak-of-heart would likely make.

Barsuk Records, P.O. Box 31016, Seattle, WA 98103;

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