Subsequent albums, Time Travel is Lonely, Life and Death of an American Fourtracker, Cellar Door, Pixel Revolt and Emerald City have gained critical acclaim for their melodic quality and sophisticated narrative lyrical content. Vanderslice has spent much of the last few years on tour across North America, Europe, and Japan.
Vanderslice also founded a recording studio in 1997 called Tiny Telephone Located in the Mission District of San Francisco, Tiny Telephone has carved out a niche as the last all-analog recording studio in the Bay Area, and has a policy of setting recording rates under market prices. Bands who have used Vanderslice's studio include Beulah, Death Cab for Cutie, Okkervil River and Spoon.
Vanderslice is a proponent of using analog instruments and recording equipment to produce a richer, more raw sound which he has sometimes called "sloppy hi-fi". He has collaborated closely with Scott Solter in the production of his recent albums, with Pixel Revolt being notably shaped by Solter.
Vanderslice was a contributing producer on the Spoon album, Gimme Fiction, and has collaborated and toured with The Mountain Goats. He also produced The Mountain Goats' albums Heretic Pride and We Shall All Be Healed. He is influenced by film and is a fan of David Lynch, whose work is referenced in his song "Promising Actress". His declared musical influences are diverse, ranging from Neutral Milk Hotel to Public Enemy. He has incorporated the poetry of William Blake, Percy Shelley and Robert Lowell into his music. In addition, Vanderslice is an avid photography hobbyist.
Several songs on the album Pixel Revolt referenced the September 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent global political situation. Vanderslice's most recent album, Emerald City, is named after the nickname of the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad. "I was so beaten down after the 2000 election and after 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan," said Vanderslice. "I was so depleted as a person after all that stuff happened, that I had to write my way out of it. I really had to write political songs because for me it is a way of making sense and processing what is going on.