Album Reviews

    Few albums vary as widely in quality as John Vanderslice’s third solo effort, Cellar Door.

    A number of the tracks are stellar, ear-capturing affairs, but Cellar Door isn’t the great album Vanderslice could have made — not because its good moments aren’t good enough, but because there are too many ho-hum ones in between.

    To its credit, Cellar Door draws a new line connecting folk-rock, electronica, indie-pop and straight-up rock ‘n‘ roll, continuously reinventing combinations of sound. Vanderslice thrives on surprising the listener with each new song; some display Vanderslice’s impeccable pop sensibilities while others, like the captivating “Heated Pool and Bar,” are powerful, haunting and heavy with messages.

    Unfortunately, while all of Cellar Door sounds beautiful (Vanderslice is something of a producer-god in Nor-Cal indie circles), only about half of the songs are Vanderslice at his best.

    Cellar Door is an excellent album, to be sure, but not the captivating, visionary statement it wants to be.

    John Vanderslice will perform with the Wrens at the Casbah on Feb. 24.

    — Ian S. Port

    Contributing Writer

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