Delta Spirit: S/T

    After their rambunctious, rootsy debut Ode to Sunshine in 2008, followed by the Howard Zinn-inspired sophomore album History From Below in 2010, San Diego natives Delta Spirit are releasing their third, self-titled LP, and it falls far from the heights they’ve reached over their folk-filled past.

    Self-titled, because lead singer Matt Vasquez states, “This is the true Delta Spirit” — album number three has a completely different sound. Delta Spirit has attempted to distance the band from its retro-folk stigma and modernize its sound, featuring noticeably louder, atmosphere-l
    aden and guitar-filled tunes.

    The album strives to highlight the band’s growing maturity and ability to develop its sound, which may stem from a recent relocation from Long Beach to Brooklyn and a change in the band’s line-up, replacing Sean Waker with Will McLaren (formerly of the Willowz).

    Although Delta Spirit has tried to abandon their 1960s influence, that doesn’t mean they’re fully caught up to the 21st century. “Tear It Up” sounds influenced by early ’80s progressive rock, akin to Genesis or Yes, with ambient guitar, clackety drums and a repetitive chorus, while “Tellin’ The Mud” jumbles post-punk yelling with a backdrop of noisy garage guitar simultaneously reminiscent of Sonic Youth and My Morning Jacket.

    While the sound has been updated, the lyrics still deal with timeless issues such as love and loss, especially since one member recently married and another ended a relationship. “California” is a disheartening break-up song, with Beach Boys-inspired harmonies and a surf-rock intro befitting the song’s title.

    But part of what made Delta Spirit’s past two records so memorable was the raspy twang of Matt Vasquez’s vocals, the raw and almost religious tone of the lyrics, the band’s eclectic use of instruments (such as trash can lids) and its sheer passion in performing — all of which are absent on this album. (5/10)

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