Tue Sep 2 2008
Photograph: Matt Wignal
Mercury Lounge; Thu 4
American history is famously littered with inspirational cabins: Abraham Lincoln grew up in one, for instance, paving the way for gay Republicans, syrup makers and the Evil Dead movies. Delta Spirit now adds to our native cabin lore, having recorded its rootsy debut, Ode to Sunshine, in the mountains outside of San Diego. Self-released last year, the disc was recently reissued on Rounder, giving the quintet a much-deserved chance at reaching a wider audience.
Behind the revamped cover art (depicting pianist Kelly Winrich’s uncle raising a glass) lie songs that position Delta Spirit in another storied lineage—that of the rambunctious bar band. Winrich’s rolling saloon tickles spar with singer Matthew Vasquez’s Westerbergian yowl. Contrary to its sunny title, the disc celebrates a rowdy night out: “Trashcan” features self-referential banging and clanging, “House Built for Two” employs the sound of rattling empty bottles, and “People, Turn Around” captures the bulletproof mind-set achieved at the apex of a raging evening. Like any drunken outing (and morning after), Ode to Sunshine can be exciting, depressing, confusing and overly introspective…sometimes all at once.
Onstage, the boys let loose like a high-school band practicing at the cool parents’ house. It’s hard for them to sit (or stand) still, and their palpable youthfulness calls to mind the aforementioned Westerberg’s Replacements, as well as contemporaries like Arcade Fire and Cold War Kids. A bold claim, yes, but they’ve just served up the second round of what should be a lasting bender.