Music Reviews: Delta Spirit

Review by Taylor DeBoer

Grade: B+ 

Delta Spirit is overlooked and underappreciated. Maybe because of the hefty stock of alt/country roots rockers forming the edges of American indie, bands like Delta Spirit, Deer Tick, or Dawes seem to slip through the cracks. In a world of thumping drums, electro beats, and complex songs that spout out trending pretension in hopes for a 9.2 from Pitchfork, the Delta Spirits of the world dance comfortably in the shadow – playing their simple, straightforward, but charming blend of Americana.

Frontman Matthew Vasquez generated a bit of music-blog buzz via super-group Middle Brother from late 2010. Made up of members of – yep, you guessed it – Deer Tick and Dawes, Middle Brother blended country, folk, and rock quickly and with raw aspiration. In 2010 Delta Spirit gave us History From Below – a rock ‘n roller record with some of the simpler folk/blues tendencies from debut Ode to Sunshine (2008).

Photo by Cara Robbins

Continuing with their blue-collar pontificating, Delta Spirit is a heavier dose of catchy rock n’ roll with more guitars, more synths, more harmonies, and more umph. “California” is the album’s third track and true launching point.

“Home” brings us down and Vasquez channels Springsteen over simple electric reverb. The directness of Delta Spirit is what makes them so inspiring. “Sometimes sittin’ still is better than to try.” The simple streams of consciousness can provide for a slice of enlightenment, especially in these slow breaks in tempo.

Blasting through “Otherside” and “Tellin’ the Mind” brings you to the arena-rock glitz of “Time Bomb.” They must of been spinning Tunnel of Love while writing these catchy hooks. It’s not my favorite track of the album, but would certainly make anyone a Delta Spirit fan. The echo thumping  unfolds in an Arcade Fire kind-of-way. The blending fade of the harmonies ties the whole track together.

It’s interesting to contrast “Time Bomb,” its follow-up “Into Darkness,” and closer “Yamaha” and their New-Wavey groove with the rest of the album’s rock n’ roll screech. It’s a bit of a soul search with these tunes and I don’t completely buy in, but certainly give them an “A” for effort.

What Delta Spirit have on their self titled album is an improvement from History From Below – it’s more ambitious sonically and stylistically, more refined melodically, more friendly aesthetically, but more choppy as whole. Credit to the band for not succumbing to their own genre and expanding from their simple roots to a bigger venue (literally with their arena tendencies). We have a good album that is trying to be great and at times, certainly is.

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