Delta Spirit captures long-desired sound
Band believes it hits stride on new CD
Friday, May 4, 2012
If you go
What: Delta Spirit, in concert.
When: 9 p.m. May 5 for those 21 and older.
Where: Wonder Ballroom, 128 N.E. Russell St., Portland.
Cost: $14-$16 through TicketFly, http:// ticketfly.com/venue/975.
Information: 503-284-8686 or http://wonderballroom.com.
Matt Vasquez, frontman of Delta Spirit, said he feels the group’s newly released self-titled CD is the album on which the band found the sound it had been chasing throughout its career.
And a listen to the new CD captures a full-bodied, largely electric Delta Spirit sound that is considerably different than the way the band sounded on its first CD.
That 2007 first album, the excellent “Ode To Sunshine,” revealed a band that could combine pop melody with ramshackle country-tinged rock. The group’s extensive use of piano and acoustic guitar gave the CD a backwoods feel that caused more than a few comparisons to the music of the Band, although Delta Spirit sounded a bit wilder and more unkempt.
But as much as the band’s sound has evolved in the space of three albums, Vasquez can hear the seeds of the new sound of Delta Spirit even on “Ode To Sunshine.”
“The sonics of the (new) record are certainly (different). It’s really not out of the blue for us for what we’ve done,” Vasquez said. “I think we were always kind of heading in this direction and kind of figuring out this direction. Even in the first record, you can hear it on like our first track, ‘Tomorrow Goes Away.’”
The second CD, “History From Below,” carried forward a good deal of the rustic charm of the debut. But on several songs, the group moved toward a more muscular, more electric-centric sound.
But with the “Delta Spirit” CD, Vasquez feels the group, which also includes, bassist Jon Jameson, multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich, guitarist Will McLaren and percussionist/drummer Brandon Young, has really found its musical stride and a sound that it can call its own.
“I think the best music is pulled in from every range of influence that you can muster,” Vasquez said. “And we’ve really been trying to do that and just make it so influenced by so many things that it just becomes its own language and its own sound.”
Vasquez points to a period of writing and demoing two summers ago as a trigger that helped push him forward to the more wide-ranging and sonically adventurous sound of the self-titled CD.
“Like we would do a spring tour and then we would do a fall tour,” he said. “And in between that time on tour for ‘History From Below,’ I had my Pro Tools rig set up in our back garage. And I was recording there. I was just trying to make the craziest music possible, and I made these demos. One was ‘Tear It Up’ and the other one was ‘Tellin’ the Mind.’”
Those two songs both made it onto the “Delta Spirit” CD, and they are good examples of the evolution in Delta Spirit’s sound. The former tune is a ringing rocker dressed in a range of guitar tones and other stray sounds, all carried along by a rolling synthetic-sounding beat. The hugely catchy “Tellin’ the Mind” greets the listener with a trilling, tribal whoop that gets repeated as the song kicks into its galloping pace. The smart mix of synthetic and electric instrumentation flavors many of the other songs, but they remain grounded in rangy vocal melodies that retain the folky pop character of the group’s previous music.
The approach on “Delta Spirit” was something of a throwback to the way “Ode To Sunshine” was written. Formed in 2006 in San Diego, the group members lived together in a cabin near San Diego, where they recorded the first CD. With the new CD, the group was also able to work together on developing its songs, from initial writing to a full month for pre-production.
That was a nice change from “History From Below,” where, because of time constraints, the full band couldn’t be involved in the songs from the ground up. Instead, much of the writing by Vasquez was done on tour. And because he didn’t have a full recording rig available, many of the songs started out simply on acoustic guitar, and then the band as a whole would develop full-band arrangements for the songs.
“Mostly the folk nature of the second album, or the medium, was used so much because we were writing in hotel rooms,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez said the band may include some surprises in its song selection during its shows this spring.