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Listed: John Vanderslice + Eyes and Arms of Smoke

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: John Vanderslice and Eyes and Arms of Smoke.

Listed: John Vanderslice + Eyes and Arms of Smoke

John Vanderslice

San Francisco-based singing songwriting popper John Vanderslice has probably bounced his way onto a bill or two in your hometown at some point in the past few years. His catchy, introspective tunes have landed him on tour with just about every like-minded band floating above the radar, from Spoon to the Mountain Goats. His new record, Pixel Revolt (Barsuk), seems to be The One that will make good on all the accumulation of exposure, and help bob his (funny) name towards the surface of familiarity. Not only is Vanderslice quite adept at writing and playing music: he is quite good at recording it, too. His (also SF-based) Tiny Telephone studios has recorded the likes of Death Cab For Cutie, Deerhoof, Richard Buckner, Beulah, and many others. Pixel Revolt comes out on August 23, 2005.

Interesting films for future viewing, in no order:
1. Alice Adams (1935, dir. George Stevens, starring Katharine Hepburn)
Sad and funny comedy from a master studio director. Stevens, an ex-camera man, makes stunning looking films that can stand up solely on their visual power and beauty.

2. Dead End (1937, dir. William Wyler, starring Joel McCrae, Humphrey Bogart)
This is a forgotten gem. As Joel McVrae learns, we may be through with the past, but the past isn't through with us.

3. Primer (2004, dir. Shane Carruth)
Two programmers invent a time machine in their Austin garage. Very compelling story about technology and responsibility.

4. The Time of Your Life (1948, dir. HC Potter, from a play by William Saroyan. Starring James Cagney)
Arty pre-beat masterpiece set in San Francisco. Loopy, fun and way ahead of its time.

5. El Dorado(1966, dir. Howard Hawkes, starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum)
Hawkes is always concerned with a man's devotion to work and masculine duty. Only after the town square is drenched with the blood of Bart Jason's gang can Wayne show any kind of emotional need or sentimentality.

6. A Women's Face (1941, dir. George Cukor, starring Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas)
A strange and disturbing mid-era Cukor film. God, how many Cukor oddities could be on this list? A sympathetic and stylish director, who had a wonderful affinity for actresses, and was very skilled at stage adaptations, he made consistently great films in the ever-changing Hollywood whirlwind for over 30 years.

7. The Great McGinty (1939, dir. Preston Struges, starring Brian Donlevy)
Every Sturges film of the 30's is worth seeing and at least five of his films would land on my top 100.

8. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002, dir. George Clooney, from a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, starring Sam Rockwell)
What was it? George Clooney as director? The Hollywoodish cast? (Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, cameos by Brad Ppitt, Matt Damon) Whatever it was, the movie bombed and was near-forgotten until it hit cable. This is a film that will hold up well under repeated viewings (I've seen it at least 5 times).

9. Under Milk Wood (1972, dir. Sinclair Lewis, starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter O'Toole)
Fractured film version of Dylan Thomas' play, certainly not going to win over everyone, but it is highly watchable and original.

10. Ruggles of Red Gap (1935, dir. Leo McCarey, starring Charles Laughton)
Absurd and lovable story about an English manservant trying to make it with his new employers in the Pacific Northwest. it might make you miss the brutal, unforgiving (and extremely creative) studio system.

Eyes and Arms of Smoke

As far as I know, Nicholasville, Kentucky has never been known as a creative hub, but as Dusted readers should know all too well by now, forward-thinkers and limit-pushers can turn up just about anywhere. The Nichoalville quartet, Eyes and Arms of Smoke has wofted its way into the ranks of the modern folk 'movement.' They aren't total unknowns, though - members Robert Beatty and Trevor Tremaine are also known for their work in eardrum-bursters Hair Police. When H.P.'s Mike Connelly moved to Michigan to join Wolf Eyes, Trevor and Robert were able to focus more on their other band, and thus, a record was recorded. To say that the Eyes and Arms of Smoke are the calm before the Hair Police storm would be an understatement. Their new record, A Religion Of Broken Bones is out now on Centoph Audio.

Robert’s picks:
1. Nana Vasconcelos - Saudades
Sought this one out after reading in Caetano Veloso’s autobiography that he wished he’d made a record as good as Vasconcelos had. Somewhere between solo berimbau improv, sound poetry, and abstract orchestral pop music. Never really heard anything else like this, but I can’t stop listening to it.

2. Joe Jones - everything
Some sort of otherworldly voice comes through when all of Joe Jones’ Fluxus music machines come to life and play hymns to the sun. A roomful of just as many musicians couldn’t do the same if they tried.

Ellen’s picks:
1. Donovan - A Gift from a Flower to a Garden
This is the only album I try not to listen to too much because I don't want to ever get tired of it. Donovan is definitely my favorite singer/songwriter and these are his most beautiful songs. They're very simple and his lyrics are great.

2. Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon
I used to hate Joni Mitchell. I used to cringe at the sound of her voice and I do admit it can be piercing at times but something happened one day and I immediately went from hating her to being completely obsessed with her. Blue is my ultimate pick but I like Ladies of the Canyon because it's lighter. It's more for summer and Blue is more for winter.

Sara’s picks:
1. Joni Mitchell - Hissing of Summer Lawns
A mellow record full of melancholy songs that make me feel happy. When I am in a bad mood all I have to do is put on this record and I am good again. My favorite song on the album is “In France They Kiss on Main Street”. It reminds me of summer time, just driving around aimlessly.

2. Fleetwood Mac - Bare Trees
Best Fleetwood Mac album. This record makes it feel like fall in the summer. There are so many good songs on this album. My favorite is “Spare Me a Little of Your Love,” a song that always gets stuck in my head.

Trevor’s picks:
1. Anonymous - Into the Shadows
Got a crude, mainly-hiss dub of the Akarma reissue care of C. Spencer Yeh. Very pure & heartfelt songwriting, proto-jangle pop style. Sorta like if Fleetwood Mac were stripped of their budget & egos in ’81 and cut a record for IRS ‘just for the hell of it.’ Some of the most intuitive and effective melodies and riffs to come out of the whole psych oddity craze. Wish it were all this hot.

2. Judee Sill - Heart Food
Not the obvious choice (much slicker & more produced than the debut), but gorgeous, and my personal fave. I had a CDR with both on a recent plane trip, and this one won out due to countless repeat plays of "Soldier of the Heart" traversing a particularly sketchy stretch of sky, navigating some late dusk thunderheads. Put me totally at peace and truly romanticized the notion of plummeting, doomed, into the constellations of electric light below. Judee’s tunes are from a dimension not too unlike our own, with just some of the rules of harmonic tension slightly altered; just enough to really fuck with your prejudices towards her uncomfortably direct adult-contemporary voice.

Collective picks:
1. These Trails - These Trails
Heard this quietly-but-unanimously-touted record about a half-a-year after EAS formed and was terrified and thrilled by the kinship I felt to their music. Unfathomably evocative and technically and emotionally complex. One of the most beautiful records I’ve ever heard. As a testament to their timelessness, Ellen once suggested we play some shows with this band, not having any prior knowledge of their history, other than hearing the record. These Trails could be from a million years in any direction.

2. Sparks - Kimono My House
A Lexington dance-party staple since as long as I can remember. I don’t know if any of us know all the words, but we still sing along really loud when we’re drunk.

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