By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Chicago-based glam-folk guy David Vandervelde calls his publishing company Dude Camp, which is pretty much where he went to make The Moonstation House Band, his debut full-length. Vandervelde's benefactor is former Wilco multi- instrumentalist Jay Bennett, who gave Dave the keys to his Windy City studio and told the 23-year-old to go nuts. The result is heavy-duty locked-in-the-basement record-nerd manna, like Devendra Banhart covering Summerteeth with help from Jeff Lynne. (Wilco fans bummed over Sky Blue Sky's mellow yacht-rock steez should Yankee Hotel Foxtrot themselves Vandervelde's way.) Moonstation contains only eight cuts, but each packs two or three bowls' worth of flavor: "Nothin' No" rides a slow-mo sitar riff while Vandervelde remembers "getting high out on the front porch" (not a long-lost memory, if you get my drift), and "Moonlight Instrumental" (with strings by Beck's dad) targets android soft spots more effectively than Air's new one.
Vandervelde's current tourmate Richard Swift, a Left Coast scenemaker who says he's from "nowhere" on his MySpace page, is another psych-pop savant most at home in the studio. The single-disc follow-up to his double-album debut, Dressed Up for the Letdown has more breathing room than Moonstation; unlike Vandervelde, Swift doesn't seem to believe that if an instrument can be recorded, it should be. But the CD does indulge all kinds of nifty sonic anachronisms unavailable to street-corner troubadours: In "P.S. It All Falls Down," for instance, Swift sings through a Vocoder over rinky-dink vaudeville piano plinks. Dude went to Dude Camp and came back a time traveler.
David Vandervelde and Richard Swift play Pianos April 22, pianosnyc.com.