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Emerald City


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Audio CD, July 24, 2007
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Biography

The newest entry into John Vanderslice's deep and undeniably remarkable catalog is White Wilderness, and it's a record like no other he's made before.

Here are nine new and wildly impressive JV songs captured live over three days in a unique collaboration with the Magik*Magik Orchestra, a collective of classically trained musicians in the Bay Area led by artistic director ... Read more in Amazon's John Vanderslice Store

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Emerald City + Pixel Revolt
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 24, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Barsuk
  • ASIN: B000RGSOS2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,734 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Kookaburra
2. Time To Go
3. Parade, The
4. White Dove
5. Tablespoon Of Codeine
6. Tower, The
7. Minaret, The
8. Numbered Lithograph
9. Central Booking

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Vanderslice recorded this album in the midst of anguishing legal limbo after a visa application for his French girlfriend was rejected by US immigration. The album takes its title from a reference to the "Green Zone" in Iraq, but its themes are broad. "John Vanderslice is starting to look like the most consistently engaging singer and songwriter - and maybe even live performer - on indie rockdom's current landscape" - Washington Post.

Amazon.com

With the album title referring to the Green Zone in Baghdad, the latest from John Vanderslice is rife with fractious circumstances on a grand scale. His writing was fueled not only by inescapable global realities, but also an ultimately futile process to obtain a visa for his French girlfriend. The contrast of small personal details against a backdrop of larger sociopolitical events is what makes such riveting characters come to life in his songs. Eschewing broad specifics and flat reportage, his poetic bearing makes the slivered glimpses of lives in flux feel as resonant as a next-door neighbor or a family member further afield, but connected by phone. All of these lyrical aims would fall flat without Vanderslice's consummate compositional skills. These are first and foremost hook-filled songs, and it is upon repeated listenings (which they can't help but draw a listener into) that more complex matters of darkness, grief, love, hope, and death begin to emerge. --David Greenberger

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
I fell in love with the song "You were my Fiji" from "Time Travel is Lonely."
B
I have almost all his records, and this is among his best, though the exceptional Cellar Door is by far the best of his career, thus far.
Mark Abrahamsen
I like a lot of it but found some of the experimentation didn't take with me.
George a Pletz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mark Abrahamsen on October 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
JV has an exellent track record regarding his records, and Emerald City in no different. Anybody who's a fan of his music knows his music is way better than almost anything that plays on the radio. I have almost all his records, and this is among his best, though the exceptional Cellar Door is by far the best of his career, thus far. What struck me about Emerald City is it's exceptional melodic structure, incompairably beautiful harmonies, and poetic lyrics (all of which are staples of JV's unique style). It's not as immediately accessible as Pixel Revolt (thus the negitive reviews), but if you give it some time, you'll grow it love it just as much. Basicly, anybody who's a fan of JV's music should definately buy it, but someone who's not very filmiliar with his music should probably get Pixel Revolt first.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George a Pletz on September 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Just got this early this week and felt I needed to say something on the latest Vanderslice. After the second time I listened to it, I dug up all his albums I own. This involved digging into my overpacked closet. You see I've been listening to John since "Occult Figurines" which I found to be a cool if minor indie rock album. And then he released Time Travel is Lonely. My interest grew and I realized what I had found. A talented songwriter who payed as much attention to the lyrics as the instrumentation and the arrangement. I mean he is the real deal! Somewhere between Malkmus and McCrea both vocally and lyrically with a undercurrent of melancholy. There is something direct and poetic about his work. This is pop, before that was a bad word, that is evocative and concise. Musically the elements are expansive and harder to pin as being anyone but Vanderslice. Then came Life and Death of an American Fourtracker which seem to slant more to art over pop. It took me awhile to crack it but I did. I like a lot of it but found some of the experimentation didn't take with me. It seemed like it was needlessly obtuse in the music department.
I had no problem with the Beulah style horns, it was just the studio-centric noodling. Some could call it prog pop, I thought of it as needless stretching. But it grew on me. The real moment of doubt came with Cellar Door. Gone was the light conceptual draw of the previous albums for more of a short story feel. And there was one too many ballad type songs. Not to mention a feeling of creative exhaustion which made it more of a song by song experience than an album one. It left me in a state of uncertainty which made me unsure if I wanted to bother with Pixel Revolt. So I drifted away until I heard about Emerald City. After devoting so much time, I figured what the hell.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B on June 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I discovered John Vanderslice at a record store listening station. I fell in love with the song "You were my Fiji" from "Time Travel is Lonely." I back filled my collection with his other albums which were a mixed bag of either over-experimentation or lack of inspiration but all with a consistent refreshing off-beat style. On "Emerald City" he combines the best of what he has learned along the way. The songs have a slightly more pop feel (more accessible)than previous efforts but do not lose his quirky songwriting, folksy voice, or minimalist guitar/piano approach. "Teaspoon of Codeine" and "Numbered Lithograph" add just the right touch of elecrtronica. Just a delightful album to listen to from the first to the last track.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Neumann on December 9, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Love it, especially the first track "Kookaburra", which seems to wrap together the seemingly opposite qualities of goosebump-inducing beauty and destruction. Of course, I've always felt that danger and beauty go together.

I'm not sure why the background instruments on "White Dove" are distorted, but it's a cool song too.

Best CD I've bought in a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lee Armstrong HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 23, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Emerald City" is my introduction to John Vanderslice. His off-center musical approach is refreshing and unusual. He's not blessed with a classic singing voice, but has a thin vocal quality that works much as Ray Davies' classic rock with the Kinks. Vanderslice's music uses his unusual voice and varied musical instruments as on the opener "Kookaburra," "It can't be stopped; Thunder clouds are tightening in the sky tonight; We can't be saved; Electricity will scribble out your name." "The Parade" pits a flower-power melody against a conflicted lyric, "Be calm, be quiet as the cop drives by; Stand right there like a poisoned well." "The Tower" plays like a soundtrack for a marching army with the drum pounding against the full vocal harmonies, "It's a burning tower hit by lightning & people are jumping out, It's coming down." Vanderslice's songs are impressionistic, leaving you to wonder exactly what it was about. It's likeable, it's just unusual with musical riffs that are quite pleasant on the ear combined with bizarre lyrics as on "The Minaret," "They scattered in the woods to gather up their strength, dripping blood on the road; Oh how the animals looked on." "Numbered Lithograph" explodes emotionally as John wails, "I've never been lonelier." "Central Booking" concludes the set with a wispy melody. "Emerald City" is music made by an individual vision. It lets me appreciate the music from outside without really feeling I've gotten to the heart of the emotional experience. Yet, it is undeniably gifted. Enjoy!
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