Vanish Valley emerges at Old Towne Pub Friday night
By Bliss Bowen 06/07/2012
Vanish Valley’s tuneful songs aren’t exactly lighthearted, but they are insightful and, at times, weirdly amusing. The nom de band of Andrew McAllister, a film editor and musician who fled Seattle’s incessantly gray skies in 2008 for SoCal’s sunny climes, Vanish Valley is one of those under-the-radar LA bands that emerge periodically from the hills with a batch of melodic commentary on the city’s deceptive allure, then seemingly disappear back into the brush.
McAllister was the life force behind the undersung Conrad Ford, his sleeper band in Seattle that recorded two terrific country-inflected albums before he packed his bags for LA’s sun-parched horizons. Vanish Valley is a product of the City of Angels — more specifically, of McAllister’s experiences here. The 2010 album “Vanish Valley” was a rough gem that impressed with its poetic introspection and astute songcraft, not least because it dropped out of seemingly nowhere. Word of mouth for both the album and the edgy McAllister’s rare live performances was enthusiastic and raised hopes that Vanish Valley would become a steady presence on the local club scene.
Instead, McAllister ducked out of sight again, in part to work on new material. When he re-emerged with last September’s “Get Good,” it took some fans by surprise with its full band lineup and psychedelic rock elements. The expanded sonic canvas was appropriate for the new songs, which both celebrate and caution against the sprawling “town” McAllister now calls home. “You might say that it’s time to give up, you might say that it’s time to give in,” he warbles on the wary “Take My Chances.” “But I’ve got a couple of battles left in me and a couple I might win.”
McAllister has an original perspective well worth the time it takes to listen, and he has a lot to say. That may explain why the band’s been more active of late. Last month’s weekly residency at the Down & Out bar in downtown LA will be followed by a show at Old Towne Pub this Friday, and Vanish Valley’s also scheduled to perform at the Armory Center for the Arts during the citywide Make Music Pasadena festival on June 16. By previous gig standards, that’s a veritable tour.
Vanish Valley play Old Towne Pub, 66 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 9 p.m. Friday. Info: (626) 577-6583. Vanishvalley.com