Some interesting facts about San Francisco's John Vanderslice: He once wrote a song called "Bill Gates Must Die," then punk'd numerous national media outlets by crafting an amusing hoax claiming Microsoft was out to destroy him. He owns and operates the renowned Tiny Telephone recording studio -- an all-analog joint where bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Mountain Goats and Spoon love to make albums. And finally, he holds a degree in economics from the University of Maryland. But all you really need to know about Vanderslice is that the 38-year-old songwriter/producer has put out five fantastic albums since 2000, and his latest, Pixel Revolt, is his best to date. It's melodic indie pop tricked out with myriad sonic goodies, and it spotlights his trademark vivid fictional characters: a Western journalist in Iraq who solicits a prostitute, and a homicide detective who suspects that one of his colleagues is a serial killer. It also contains his most nakedly autobiographical songs yet. No on-stage mopefests, however: Vanderslice and his four-piece band are an upbeat, energetic bunch that more than do justice to his fine, compelling material.
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