Andrew Vladeck – The Wheel
End Up Records 2009
[tags: alt country, country, folk, singer-songwriter, 2009]
Listen while reading:
The Magnet (from The Wheel)
Hold Me Back (from The Wheel)
We take a little genre jump, but keep up the good quality of yesterday’s music by Lindsay Clark. And so Brooklyn/New York based folk/alt country singer-songwriter Andrew Vladeck’s newest release is what I want to serve you for your musical pleasure (released back in 2009, but only now distributed in Europe). The Wheel is the name of the record and it’s mostly a combination of alt country with little rock influences and singer-songwriter folk. The most characteristic feature seems to be Andrew’s voice, with lots of country feeling – sometimes it pushes you forward (mostly in the harder tracks: Hold Me Back or The Songs You Inspire or the title track) sometimes it sounds really exhausted, harassed (Waiting For The Coffee To Kick In) and sometimes it’s relaxed and confident (Avenue U). And as many facets as Andrew’s voice is able to sing, so is his overall album. The title track, for example, is a banjo and electric guitar driven tune with some hammond organ (or synthesizer) atmospheres in the back, with clear rock influeneces and vocals which, off the chorus, strongly remind of spoken word techniques. Maybe that’s not what you expect the first time you listen to the album, but the fact that Andrew chose this as the title track shows, that this is the sound he connects with the album and from this point every listener should come, to understand The Wheel the right way.
In comparison to the title track, there are tracks like The Magnet or Chinatown or The 21st Century. Those three tracks should serve as examples to show the many styles you can hear on the album. The Magnet, one of my favorites, is a fascinating folk song with country flair accompanied by acoustic guitar and some atmospheres here and there. It’s a love song with a unique character, not least because of the wonderful vocal melodies and catchy lines. A very nice sing-along that emphasizes the folksy side of The Wheel. But it would be too easy to cut the album in half – say one alt country side and one folk side. Songs like Chinatown are experimental, not really folk, not really alt country, somewhere in between. Chinatown sounds like a combination of an oldtimes music banjo melodie and some apocalyptic slide guitar blips/screams which, in the end, get some flow as the noises and melodies unite. A very interesting song, maybe not your number one earworm and also not the track you will play for your friends introducing them to the album, but as part of the overall experience very important and also important as a brick that builds the bridge to the wonderful acoustic versuion of The 21st Century, the last track of the album. It’s interesting to see how the same tracks once works with electric guitars and synthesizer atmospheres (as the third track) and once without those. In this case the versions are still similar in character, but the acoustic one sounds more folky, a bit darker, wherefore the original version got more of the alt country. That Andrew deceided to put this acoustic version on his album seemed to be a very good decision that improves the record – you never will think of it as such gruesome things like bonus tracks or other album concept destroying things. No, this version really rounds up the record and fits well into the album structure.
I hope those tracks I wrote about and embedded showed some of the variety of The Wheel. If you are interested in buying your copy, use this link for ordering a physical copy or the MP3s (if you order from Germany/Austria/Switzerland you can buy from Cargo Records, from the Benelux try Rendezvous Records). Further details can be found on Andrew Vladeck’s band page as well as on his MySpace. Alt country for the heart.