“Learn How to Hang” – David Vandervelde

Bright, fast, and spacious, with compelling echoes of Lindsay Buckingham. And it’s not just because of the guitar licks and vocal characteristics, although that’s a start. Buckingham, especially outside of Fleetwood Mac, has often had an unravelled edge about him, has played and sung in a way that suggests that standard social constraints may not apply once he’s got a guitar in his hands. Likewise the Nashville-based Vandervelde, although he’s a multi-instrumentalist so you really have to watch out.

But the cool thing is that, like Buckingham before him, he seeks to funnel his borderline nuttiness into the relatively strict confines of a three-minute pop song, which creates a wonderful ongoing tension that drives the song both generally and specifically. Take the multi-tracked vocals he launches into at 0:41 to sing the lyric “You were talking shit”–there’s something just kind of crazy about that from top to bottom, but it’s also playful and winsome and, as a bonus, gets turned into a neat little back-door hook when he adds the next lyrical phrase “Didn’t know how to tighten your lip.” More broadly, notice how a song this open and flowing nevertheless stays grounded throughout in a quick, syncopated three-beat rhythm, which you can hear most prominently in the clipped chorus, where the three beats correspond to the words “learn,” “how,” and “hang.” This tells us subtly, all along, whether you notice or not, that this thing is not going to fly apart at the seams, however much you might hear that in Vandervelde’s hurtling voice.

“Learn How to Hang” is the title track to a digital EP released last week by Secretly Canadian Records. MP3 via Secretly Canadian.




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