Music

David Vandervelde: Waiting for the Sunrise

Photo: Lauren Kessinger

The CD's cover -- soft focus photography, sunshine, '70s style -- says it all.


David Vandervelde

Waiting for the Sunrise

Label: Secretly Canadian
US Release Date: 2008-08-05
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

You may remember the name David Vandervelde from last year. The Brooklyn (via Chicago and Nashville) singer-songwriter put out a record called The Moonstation House Band in January 2007, which received some positive press and fleeting blog attention (is blog attention anything but fleeting?) for its fresh take on glam rock. He’s back now with a sophomore LP, Waiting for the Sunrise, which, though similarly inclined towards the past, is stylistically quite distinct. Instead of the nasal glissandi and funky basslines, Vandervelde has turned to more relaxed, rootsy source material for inspiration.

Unlike bands like the Magic Numbers, who look (further) back with a firmer sense of straight reproduction, Vandervelde is undoubtedly interested in our experience now. At any rate, he’s in his 20s, and (as Keith Gessen tells us) when you’re 20, or 21, or 22, or 23, what you want from life is inextricably tied up in what you think of yourself.

But then this time, unlike the debut on which Vendervelde wrote every part and played every instrument, members of Vandervelde’s band, including Jay Bennett (Wilco), contributed to the composition process, and the result is more consistent, yet more homogenous. By about the fourth song on the record, things settle into a predictable groove, with rootsy guitars and layered vocals filtered through a soft-focus '70s haze. It’s not repetitive so much as merely a comforting tour through tropes made entirely familiar by many "lite rock" stations. Still, there’s plenty of pathos to be mined from this arrangement, and Vandervelde grasps this with a casual grace. As “Old Turns” fades out, he asks, “How long will it take me to understand how old turns to new?” It could be a justification for the whole backwards-facing attitude of the album, or a much more personal realisation about the effect of time on love.

The album is front-loaded with a series of sparkling tracks that strongly make Vandervelde’s case for the relevance of nostalgia-rock. Opener and first single “I Will Be Fine” is so laid-back it almost doesn’t exist -- but then again, propulsion’s not the point. Guitar lines wander around in the mud, in no hurry to emerge back to another verse; vocal parts cascade into echo at the end of a line. “Breezes”, immediately following, will be a natural hit. Shamelessly filled with West Coast nostalgia, the tune rides un-self-consciously over a bank of Wurlitzers, and is entirely successful.

Thankfully, along with this relaxed musical approach, Vandervelde has dropped the Bee Gees-esque vocal affect. His natural singing voice is smooth and light, and the songs on Waiting for the Sunrise allow it to shine. Sure, there’s less edge to the material, now, but with old AM radio pop as the template, this comes with the territory. There may be a slightly more serious problem. Though Vandervelde gets all the separate pieces right -- the buzzy horns, the funky Beatles percussion, the rattling organs -- it occasionally fails to completely gel. More relaxed ballads like “Need for Now” have a hard time leaving a strong impression, perhaps because they’re so breezy that they’re all atmosphere and no impact.

Nonetheless, Waiting for the Sunrise is never boring. At worst it dips into ‘pleasant’ territory, and if that guitar jam comes precisely when you’re expecting it, let’s call it “classic” rather than “formulaic” songwriting. This album may not catapault Vandervelde into the mainstream, but it should cement his reputation as a somewhat nostalgic, but solid singer-songwriter with an ear for catchy melody.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image