Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

As the story goes, Delta Spirit's Matt Vasquez was first discovered by his bandmates at a San Diego light-rail station, busking furiously to a spare late-night crowd. The gravel-throated singer wasn't exactly hard up at the time—he was taking a break from his parents' beachy O.C. digs—but that shouldn't count against him or his band. It actually goes a long way toward explaining Delta's unhinged, free-flowing, bluesy spirit. Ode To Sunshine is brimming with gritty, staggering soul that floods the gap between the Stones' R&B-inflected; early oeuvre and Cold War Kids' world-weary keening. That said, Ode is impressively measured, and neither the rollicking shambolics of "Trashcan" nor the slow, whiskey-seeping grind of "Parade" would be half as effective without a certain tautness. Texture is paramount too, as the shimmering banjo of "People, Turn Around" and the unfussy horns on "Bleeding Bells" attest. It all gives Vasquez's voice a wide berth as it oscillates between Jeremy Enigk-worthy highs and quavering Marc Bolan-esque lows, expounding on some heavy themes (drug abuse, sexual slavery, Vasquez's mother deserting her family) with surprising lightness. In "People C'Mon," Vasquez bids his "soul-searchin' people" to join him in whatever quest brought him to that train station in the first place. If his goal is to coax the sun out by song, he should have no shortage of voices backing him.


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