Chimpomatic

John Vanderslice

Romanian Names

Dead Oceans

John Vanderslice is not the kind of artist that you’ll find gracing the front cover of Q magazine. A media hooked on hyperbole and the shock of the new is probably not going to pin any hopes on a new album from a tried and tested over 40year old singer songwriter and I doubt his record company will reach the FTSE 100 on the back of him. Roman Names could possibly end up camouflaged amongst the masses of CDs in you local charity shop, before finding itself unsought in the 50p bargain bucket and eventually becoming asphalt in a the A127 between Bedford and Luton. If this were the fate that beholds Romananian Names it would be a little unfair, because the album stand up incredibly well to repeated listening.

Romanian Names could have been easy to dislike, it could have been classically ordinary ‘singer/songwriter by numbers’ material, the kind of catchy but empty nonsense that often appears on Radio 2 and is loved by those who own ‘Friends’ box sets and are slowly losing the will to live. All the classic ingredients are there, it’s mid-paced, melodic and it has light fluffy Jose Gonzalez-esque vocals. What really redeems Roman names from AOR graveyard is the subtle experimentation, the strange overdubbed vocals, the electronic landscape lurking quietly behind many tracks. All this happens without ever coming close to indulgence, in fact one of the highlights of the album is its lack of fat; the longest track weighs in at 3min 57 and after 12 song you’ve only invested just over 37 minutes. The album doesn’t suffer from over-reach, it doesn’t suffer the pretence that it’s going to be a classic album, and while there are some pretty ordinary tracks here, Vanderslice has the confidence to keep the songs short and so maximises their impact. The better tracks are also the most quirky, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Sunken Union Boat’ wouldn’t feel out of place on an Of Montreal album - although they do lack OM’s camp weirdness. Best song on the album is ‘D.I.A.L.O.’, which sound like reigned in and cleaned up ‘Soft Bulletin’ era ‘Flaming Lips’. Worst is ‘C and O Canal”, a song so sickly melodic it sound as if it was made with the intention of appearing in an Apple Nano advert - the irony being, if this album is to eventually sell shed loads, this track will probably be the reason.

I doubt Romanian Names is going to set the world alight, but nor does it fall into the trap of being the only thing worse than being bad - which is being ordinary. It has enough confidence and invention to be well worth a listen and if you do happen to find it in the at your local charity shop. I implore you to rescue it.

 

#SP
#Music

21st May 2009 - Tumblr

3

News

Reviews

Articles

Surveillance

Snowpiercer

Intriguing, but generally incomprehensible sci-fi gobbledegook.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

31st Aug 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Buffaloed

Fun, textbook indie comedy.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

30th Aug 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Search

Jumani

The Next Level

Marginally less fun sequel, but still plenty of laughs.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

16th Aug 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

The Deer Hunter

Beautifully imagined and lovingly restored, but it still alternates between a snail’… https://t.co/6bZj694rnx.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

12th Aug 2020

Read more star reviews

21 Bridges

Surprisingly enjoyable plane movie, though it owes a lot to the magnificent Copland.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

8th Aug 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

The Switch

Tension-free Bateman rom com. Lacking rom and com.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

8th Aug 2020

Read more 2 star reviews

Ad Astra

Incredibly stylish and wannabe cerebral sci-fi, that’s ultimately a little thin.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

19th Jul 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

First Man

Underwhelming space drama that’s a bit too intimate and not very epic.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

5th Jul 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Blue Story

Dire, tension-free postcode gang drama. Just add drama.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

21st Jun 2020

Read more 1 star reviews

Apollo 11

Magnificent documentary, re-assembling the moon landing from beautifully remastered footage.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

14th Jun 2020

Read more 4 star reviews

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The 8th slow-paced Tarantino pic. Literally half entertaining / boring.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

24th May 2020

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Yesterday

Entertaining Brit-com, though it’s a bit on-the-beaten-path for Danny Boyle.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Apr 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Juliet, Naked

Mildly enjoyable, thoroughly forgettable Nick Hornby pic ...once you get past the contrived set up.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

4th Apr 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Shazam

Kid-friendly(ish), super fun superhero movie.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

23rd Mar 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

The Lion King

Impeccably realised remake, but it’s emotionally flat.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

15th Mar 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Galveston

Standard festival thriller, with some style and decent moments - but it’s all a bit thin.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

10th Mar 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Alladin

Surprisingly enjoyable, Guy Ritchie-fied Disney remake.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

10th Mar 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Mapplethorpe

Cookie cutter biography that could literally have been written from his Wikipedia page.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

7th Mar 2020

Read more 1.5 star reviews

Horse Girl

Text book indie, literally days out of Sundance. Interesting until it gets a bit too wacky.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

9th Feb 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Mid90s

Strong slice of 90s skate nostalgia. Slow and subtle.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

8th Feb 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Phantom Thread

Considered character study that strays into pretentiousness here and there.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

25th Jan 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Rocketman

Enthusiasticly directed sequence of unrelated musical set pieces.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

31st Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Avengers

Endgame

Yet another biggest-battle-yet, with more than a passing nod to BTTF2.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

30th Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Mystify

Michael Hutchence

Thoughtfully assembled montage doc.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

30th Dec 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Captain Marvel

Decent origin story, with charm and some 90s nostalgia.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

27th Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Star Wars

The Rise of Skywalker

Freestyle bouillabaisse with all the ingredients, but no chef.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

27th Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Marriage Story

Quintessential indie movie ...funded by Netflix. Great perfs, lovely camera work and solid direction.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

22nd Dec 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Widows

Superior modern thriller. Smart script and accomplished direction.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

15th Dec 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

The Irishman

Long, slow, thoroughly enjoyable loose jam through Scorsese/DeNiro/Pacino/Pesci/Keitel’s greatest hits.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

2nd Dec 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Joker

Batman via Scorsese, in impeccably art directed, neatly packaged origin story.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Nov 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Frozen 2

Surprisingly strong sequel that gets going after a convoluted start.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

24th Nov 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

The Mule

Casual drama from Clint Eastwood, with the man himself anchoring things through a charming turn.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

16th Nov 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

The King

Luscious period drama. Beautifully put together - like Wolf Hall+.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

3rd Nov 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

El Camino

Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Oct 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Vice

Stylish but incoherent Cheney biopic, hampered by another one-note turn from Bale.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

5th Oct 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Bohemian Rhapsody

Mind numbingingly basic biopic, saved by the nostalgia for the music and moments.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

5th Oct 2019

Read more 2 star reviews

Minding the Gap

Interesting doc following the lives of 3 teens becoming adults, tied together by skateboarding.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Sep 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Manchester by the Sea

Painful, occasionally uplifting viewing with a grief stricken central performance.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Sep 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Spider-Man

Into the Spider-Verse

Stylish, trippy concept animated superhero flick with some great moments.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

21st Sep 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Dora & the Lost City of Gold

Young adult upgrade, with just enough Conchords humour to keep it enjoyable.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

22nd Aug 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Breath

Decent Aussie surf drama, that nostalgically investigates the soul of surfing before losing its way a little.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

14th Aug 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

A Star is Born

Somewhat unremarkable, but enjoyable music drama. Bit long.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Jul 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Two For Joy

Predictably grim seaside coming-of-age indie. Decent enough, but you’ve seen it before


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Jul 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Mary Poppins Returns

Stylish sequel, hampered in places by some authentic 1960s pacing.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

30th Jun 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Coraline

Out-there kids fable with an old school Tim Burton vibe.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

16th Jun 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Blackkklansman

Rock solid 90s style indie movie. Beautifully assembled at all levels.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

31st May 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Can’t Stand Losing You

Fairly one-sided Police doc about the seemingly dislikeable trio.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

7th May 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Tallulah

Decent, but slightly muddled parenting indie.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Apr 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Dumbo

Forgettable re-imagining of a not totally unforgettable Disney classic.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

27th Apr 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Missing Link

Solid stop-motion animation that’s light on plot, but high on charm.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

12th Apr 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews