John Vanderslice, St. Vincent

Pixel Revolt, John Vanderslice's most recent concoction, was such a well-constructed, thoughtful and original piece of indie pop that it was a shock to find out he lists such bloated fare as King Crimson and early Genesis as key influences. Yet a quick glance at Vanderslice's impressive bio will show a history of experimentation that first came to fruition in the heralded band MK Ultra. Vanderslice skillfully weaves elements of his more pretentious past into his concise (but still dense) sonic creations. Coming across as a (much more) sane Brian Wilson, Vanderslice's pop is not only infectious, it can be wonderfully weird. Songs such as "Letters to the East Coast," "Plymouth Rock" and "Peacocks in the Video Rain" are melancholy, orchestral Baroque pop with occasional references to alt-country. Like Wilson, Vanderslice may be overly perfectionist, but his songs transcend the mundane while aspiring to be played on the most mundane medium imaginable: Top 40 radio. —Darryl Smyers