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David Vandervelde 

The Moonstation House Band (Secretly Canadian)

Wednesday, Jul 11 2007
It makes sense that the stomping psych-pop of "Nothin' No," the opening track of The Moonstation House Band, bears a resemblance to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco. The song was co-written by ex-Wilco member Jay Bennett, who loaned his studio to fellow Chicagoan David Vandervelde for the two years it took to finish this ambitious debut. The partnership was a perfect match: Bennett (who also plays bass on a few songs here) is about as obsessive as they come. And Vandervelde is equally impassioned about detail: He spent most of 2005 through 2006 living in Pieholden Suite Sound, playing virtually every instrument on the album (drums, bass, organs, synths, as well as guitars and vocals).

The ambitious arranging sensibilities that Vandervelde and Bennett share lend themselves to Moonstation's frame of reference - the expansive pop sounds of late-'60s/early-'70s bands like the Beatles and the Bee Gees. The Lennon-esque "Corduroy Blues" is a utopian love song laden with swooning strings and Sgt. Pepper-like horns — a counterpiece of sorts to "Across the Universe." "There's nothing in this world that can change what I feel about you," Vandervelde sings in a high, tapering voice, while hyper-compressed drum fills bloom around him. In another standout, "Murder in Michigan," the strummed acoustic guitars and loping, waltz-time rhythm lay the foundation for a bittersweet tale of betrayal and revenge. In a musical reverie like something from the Gibb brothers — repurposed for a modern murder ballad — you can almost catch a whiff of dead flowers and freshly turned earth. The song typifies Moonstation, nuanced in sound and sentiment alike.

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