Preview: NFTN — John Vanderslice, Karl BlauPosted by Julie Grebenau
My first introduction to the name John Vanderslice was back in 2001 or so while signing in to Napster. He was featured on the front page for a while and gained some recognition with his song “Bill Gates Must Die”. Vanderslice is a kind and hard-working guy, running a studio out of San Francisco (Tiny Telephone). Vanderslice’s music sounds like a singer-songwriter who ended up with a PHD in playing with electronic toys — it is intellectual and creative, and with harmonies like the one for “Nikki Oh Nikki”, it’s easy to fall in love and sing along.
His songs tend to be about politics and are jam-packed with lyrics you can always understand (Vanderslice’s diction may be the best in the entire music industry). He has a rare hybrid focus on rhythm and melody/harmony, which makes for some unique yet enjoyable music.
If you have any interest in any bands on the label K Records, you likely know who Karl Blau is. He’s worked with The Microphones, Laura Veirs, and Your Heart Breaks, to name a few. Back in March during Magma Fest, Blau did a Radio8ball show with Andras Jones, and there was no shortage of songs to choose from.
Blau has an emotional voice that carefully sings his well-thought-out and interesting lyrics admist his simple guitar riffs and ‘out there’ electronic components (on “Always”, he has samples of cat meows come in during an otherwise seemingly normal song).
Blau has started something called Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society, a subscription service where he releases new albums on his own label with handmade packaging, as well as field recordings. The man cannot stop writing songs — he has so many out there. Both Vanderslice and Blau are highly prolific and talented songwriters who have found a love for electronics and synthesizers and care about supporting great causes like Teen Feed.
For the full Noise For The Needy lineup, go here.