David Vandervelde | The Moonstation House Band (Secretly Canadian)

cd_vanderveldeHis free spirit, throwback sensibilities, and unspoken respect for those who made him are all promises of a nostalgic growth that is all too welcome in a generation of egoist talking heads.





At 22 years old, David Vandervelde is the kind of privileged that shaggy-haired shamans and periodically perturbed youths only wish they could be. Having spent up to three years texturing the bold, cock-fancies of The Moonstation House Band in Jay Bennett's Pieholden Suite Sound studio, the Chicagoan (via Western Michigan) has emerged with eight tracks full of booze, grass, and unapologetic sexuality. Feeding off rudimentary angst, Yankee Hotel equipment, and the spirit held in the '60s/'70s changeover, Vandervelde evokes the concept of iconic reemergence.

Whether the self-taught multi-instrumentalist is blissfully unaware of his musical semblances to Bowie and Bolan, or so well-versed that his own personality is allowed to burst through these structural pretensions, is unclear. What is obvious, however, is that Vandervelde has an innocence that belies his strutting sympathies. He pushes the past-to-present tensions with renewed ambition, paying tribute and paying no mind. The songs are ambitious, the production awash in reverb and patience, and the lyrics assuredly straightforward. While Vandervelde is understandably green, grinning, and at times unfocused, The Moonstation House Band is an impressive full-length debut of fine creative instincts. His free spirit, throwback sensibilities, and unspoken respect for those who made him are all promises of a nostalgic growth that is all too welcome in a generation of egoist talking heads.

Opening with the throbbing groove of "Nothin' No," The Moonstation House Band introduces Vandervelde as a diverse party monger, capable of grassroots power-pop with unconventional hooks. The lead track calls on the strength of George Harrison's mind-fuck sitar playing crossed with filthy open chords, resulting in a perfect blueprint for Vandervelde's sinfully addictive vocals: "Getting high out on the front porch/ With the sunshine in your head/ Singing songs about the weekend/ And feeling sad about your friends."

While his lyrics are rarely thought provoking, they're consistently relatable as a mantra for coming-of-age hedonism, focusing on accusations and selfish pleasures. This is apparent as Vandervelde segues into first single, "Jacket," a similarly youthful romp with impressive, frantic solos and an irresistible chorus. What he lacks in simple words, though, he makes up for in the depths of his ability. Like a boring crush enhanced by physical attraction, Vandervelde will keep you mesmerized with his hip-shaking production as enigmatic organs, guitars, and synths make eyes at you. Before you have a chance to say, "I'm sorry, were you saying something?" you will already have fallen in love.

Where The Moonstation House Band loses focus is in its construction as a whole. The album is short at eight pop-sized tracks, and with consecutive slow ballads following the aforementioned highlights, a casual listen may suggest that you call it a day before the magic hour. This is found in the too-cool heartbreaks of "Can't See Your Face No More" and "Murder in Michigan," with the former being the upbeat middle finger you throw out with the help of your friends, and the latter being the sensitive sorrow that comes when the sun goes down and your conscience catches up to you.

As Vandervelde croons, "I cannot remove the sand from my shoes" and "Maybe I'll see you again/ Oh, my black-eyed Suzanne," you'll forgive the singer's immaturities and long for the time when his full potential is realized. Hopefully his next effort won't take so long to finish, but if it does, here's to assuming it's because Vandervelde's found himself (a thought of mind-blowing capabilities). Even if he hasn't, you'll be hard-pressed to find a young songwriter as inventive, promising, and versatile. B+ | Dave Jasmon

RIYL: T-Rex, David Bowie, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (in the more modern moments of both)

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