Bay Area singer-songwriter John Vanderslice will return May 19 with "Romanian Names," his first record for Secretly Canadian offshoot label Dead Oceans. The twelve song set was recorded at his home studio and Tiny Telephone, his professional studio in San Francisco. Vanderslice pared the album down from twenty-four songs, with the hopes of releasing the unused ones at a later date.
"I was convinced that if I moved to a different label that I'd make a different record," Vanderslice tells Billboard.com. "I'd been with Barsuk for so long, I had a thing with them. I wanted to rattle the cages a bit. I think it's only a good thing if you're pushed out of your comfort zone."
Indeed, Vanderslice changes things up this time around. Clocking in at 38 minutes, "Romanian Names" comes from an extended period off the road, something that has been a rather foreign concept to Vanderslice throughout this decade. "I don't think I've been at home for that long; at some point I was getting insane," he recalls. "Many times, I would just get in my car and drive on the highway - which is really ridiculous, but somehow it works for me."
For Vanderslice, noticeably different are the song structures this time around. He deliberately shortened the length of the songs, yet sped up the tempos. "I wanted to get to the point faster," he says. "The tempos on this are very fast and spritely - it had to do with me working with different musicians on this record and putting different constraints on my own writing."
"I started to look at doing drastic key changes within the song as a developmental tool," he continues. "That was different too, because you start to listen to old Steely Dan records or old Beatles records and you're kind of amazed at how complicated the stuff is."
Vanderslice will kick off a nationwide tour on May 17 in Merced, California. He recently released a vinyl only, split EP with The Mountain Goats entitled "Moon Colony Bloodbath."
Here is the track list for "Romanian Names":
"Tremble and Tear"
"C & O Canal"
"Too Much Time"
"Sunken Union Boat"