The debut album from Chicago's David Vandervelde is depressing, but not in a mood killing, sit in the corner of a dark room sort of way. It's more of a, "how can a 22 year-old have figured it out already," sort of way. Playing nearly every instrument on The Moonstation House Band, Vandervelde manages to recapture the magic of some of the '60s and '70s greatest acts.
If there's one thing that stands out right away on the album it's Vandervelde's distinctive voice, which reaches Glam-rock proportions from the get-go, channeling Bowie's quirky Stardust theatrics.
As far as the track listing goes, few of the eight disappoint. Leading off, "Nothin' No" would have no problem fitting into Wooderson's 8-track at the end of Dazed & Confused, with its thick jangling guitar and distinct sitar weaving throughout. Probably the standout track on the album, it's a shame we are treated to it first. Other notables include "Corduroy Blues" and "Wisdom From A Tree," the latter sounding like a younger brother of ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky," complete with bouncing pianos and sweeping strings.
Vandervelde couldn't have made it through the effort himself though, as he enlisted the help of some friends, with Singer/Songwriter/Producer/Engineer Jay Bennett (oh yeah, he was in a band called Wilco, too) lending his talents to a couple of tracks. The champion here though, is David Campbell's stunning arrangement of strings. The Elton John vet does a job worthy enough to make Sir George Martin envious, softly boosting the album above mediocrity (see closing track "Moonlight Instrumental").
With only a couple of tracks dragged and drowning in reverb, this debut is definitely one to check out. The title alone evokes fantastic enough imagery to satisfy the cravings of those T. Rex fans out there, and the promise shown is an exciting prospect for the future.
You can look for the album on Tuesday (January 23), or try to catch one out of the handful of shows in the States before Vandervelde takes his Moonstation House Band overseas in March.
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