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Posted January 21, 2008 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

The Delfields Blend Together the Past and Present on Ogres

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Even though it is easy to blame limited diversification within a music scene on the specific demographic represented, there is no dismissing the eligibility of stylistic trends and their influence on the individuals who view conformity as merely a customary element of human nature. I find that, on a personal level, my local music scene lacks in quality because of the fact that people around here really have no other choice but to listen to mundane quality if they want to become exposed to their local scene; it is like a domino effect of what is considered “hip”. I hear of these local bands, generically repetitive in appearance and sound, who dismiss even the theoretical basics of melody altogether. It is a classic example of style over substance, where discordant screaming is substituted for melodic singing and an organized structure is obsolete. Sure, even if the screaming and tight jeans somehow represent unified teenage angst, I just can’t see the appeal or the reason for doing so. I suppose that those who find audible discordance to be emotionally representative will become an instant fan of such artists, but the sane others who actually recognize the hard work and dedication that goes into crafting a form of actual quality will quickly realize that locality leaves much to be desired.

One of the reasons that I relate to The Delfields‘ frustration with their local music scene is that I am currently residing about 30 minutes away from their deriving New Brunswick, New Jersey. I have come to known the Jersey suburbs to be a place of repetitiveness and simplicity, aspects that are unfortunately reflective of the hopeful bands residing there. Though the state has seen plenty of influential artists rise into stardom, I have found from first-hand experience that the state has become ridden with emo, screamo, and other genres with no appeal to me whatsoever. Unless one wants to trek into NYC, the lack of a substantial scene can be discouraging, even if such a statement is applicable for most rural settings. With this in mind, when I discover a band of The Delfields’ caliber who are based relatively close to me, I can’t help but feel excited. And let me tell you, before I am accused of posting a band sheerly out of geographical bias, take a listen to this appealing five-piece. With their studied blend of psychedelic rock, surf music, and indie-pop incorporating itself with the group’s melodic prowess, it should be highly evident that I would post this band even if they were from Mars (and enjoyably enough, sometimes they sound like they are).

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Wearing their influences on their sleeves, The Delfields declare the genre of indie-pop in their native New Brunswick to be “nonexistent”, a statement that many music fans in the surrounding area (including myself) can wholeheartedly agree with. Consisting of singer/guitarist Joe, lead guitarist Allen Meretsky, keyboardist Michael Vassallo, bassist Ryan Shook, and (twin brother) Kyle Shook on drums, The Delfields seem confident enough to contradict the very definition of “quality music” in their local music circuit. I hope they do it too — maybe it would spread around the state. Though they remain without a label, their sound is reflective of the style that most independent labels seem eager to covet. I could play a guessing game and call them extremely suitable for the charming indie-pop of Sub Pop, but I will let their reps call the shots on that one. Their first means of exposure will be their debut full-length album, Ogres. Consisting of 9 tracks, it was at an all-analog 8-track tape studio in North Brunswick, NJ (Rubberball Productions) with the help of producer Terry Hughes and collaborator Brian Bond. It will be available to purchase on January 25th, both on The Delfields’ MySpace and at their upcoming shows.

Though songs in the vein of “Short Sleeves” and “Francine” explore more ambitious quality that is more demonstrative of overall stylistic eclecticism, there is no denying the admirable accessibility of Ogres‘ opening track, “A Slippery Slope”. I know that such a comparison may sound linear at best, but the vocals of Joe immediately reminded me of The Shins’ James Mercer. He employs a breezy with the simplistic strums of an electric guitar effortlessly churning out a sprightly melody that is accompanied by organ-like keys and spurred percussion. It sounds like a fusion of airy ’60s pop and contemporary indie-pop, with the result being as infectiously irresistible as expected. The self-titled track, “Ogres”, sees the same delivery in equally impressive form, though the wildly impressive chorus relies on a newly implemented collaboration between guitars and lighthearted keys to establish a sound more reminiscent of ’60s pop. Joe’s vocals throughout Ogres constantly reminds the listener of The Delfields’ rooted influences, with his personally being instrumental surf music. “The thick, textured sounds and vibrant melodies always drew me in,” he said. There is always a tinge of psychedelia and surf music in The Delfields’ enjoyable formula, with the heavy bass line in “Honest” and the reverbed twang in “Francine” being just a few of the agreeable examples on the impressive release. It should be accepted to expect plenty of brilliant melodies soaked in reverb on Ogres, though many will be pleased to know that such methods of “outdated” production only come to bolster the output, not weaken it. If these guys do not find themselves on a respectable label by the end of the year, I will be quite surprised.

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The Delfields – A Slippery Slope

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The Delfields – Ogres

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The Delfields – Honest

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].