There’s definitely Bowie in the rocket-ship vocals and glammy, ethereal ’70s space rock on David Vandervelde’s debut, The Moonstation House Band. But perhaps as high an accolade of the album is that it also, with refreshing honesty, harkens to the sweet and dirty blues of the Band and George Harrison. Songs like “Nothin’ No,” “Corduroy Blues” and the stunning, rambling “Can’t See Your Pretty Face No More,” with washed-out, unpolished swagger (and strings arranged by David Campbell, who’s worked with Elton John), pay homage to an era of analog, tape loops and histrionic ambition.
But The Moonstation House Band was born from two years of recording in the Chicago studio of former Wilco member Jay Bennett, and on “Jacket” and “Murder in Michigan,” Vandervelde, through the dense studio layers of pianos, organs, guitars, synths and percussion, remains grounded in the simplicity, pop sensitivity and progressive folk of Wilco, the Band, and the Grateful Dead. (Campbell also arranged for Willie Nelson, Leonard Cohen and his son Beck.)
Though it’s got the glitzy vocals, anthemic choruses and one wide-eyed, woozy instrumental (“Moonlight Instrumental”), Vandervelde doesn’t ape his influences so much as wear them on his tie-died bandana and combine them into something new and raw: a late-night, backwoods motel after-party played by sparkle-suited rock gods.
“Nothin’ No” MP3: http://www.scjag.com/mp3/sc/nothinno.mp3
“Feet of a Liar (Daytrotter version)” MP3: http://www.daytrotter.com/download/311/id=173=DavidVandervelde_DaytrotterSes
“Jacket” video: http://www.scjag.com/mp3/sc/jacket.mov