John Vanderslice Mass Suicide Occult Figurines

John Vanderslice is an intriguing guy to say the least. He runs San Francisco's Tiny Telephone Studios, used to play in MK Ultra and this past summer he successfully hoaxed Spin and Wired magazines into believing that Bill Gates was after his head. Vanderslice also made this very album available in its entirety on July 4th to "celebrate musical independence." While one could talk about the circumstances surrounding Vanderslice's debut all day long, it would be a shame to overlook the songs themselves, which are crafted excellently on two-inch analog tape. Vanderslice uses a mix of traditional rock instrumentation spiced with the occasional strings to bring his pop visions to life. The formula is definitely indie rock, but there's a bit more going on in Mass Suicide Occult Figurines to simply dismiss it as such. Vanderslice's shit-disturbing personality keeps it interesting, particularly on "Bill Gates Must Die," which is just a song about paranoia with a title geared to turn some heads. "Ambition" and "Josie Anderson" are among the best offerings, built around acoustic guitars and catching melodies. Vanderslice may be a little bugger, but he can write a good song too. (Barsuk)