I fell in love with the sweet sensation,
I gave my heart to a simple chord,
I gave my soul to a new religion,
Whatever happened to you?
Whatever happened to our rock’n’roll?
Whatever happened to my rock’n’roll?
— “Punk Song” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
What ever happened to our rock ‘n’ roll? It’s a good question. And this isn’t one of those “back when I was your age” or “there hasn’t been any good music made since [fill in the blank]” rants. I mean, during my music listening formative years the stars had more Aquanet in their hair than the girls did, wearing shoulder pads and leather and spandex and lipstick, all the while acting tough. So it wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of art. And personally I think there’s tons of great music coming out today, perhaps more so than ever before. Punk, metal, hip hop, indie, alternative… hell, even subgenres and sub-subgenres I’ve never heard of before.
But what about rock ‘n’ roll? Simple, pure, rock ‘n’ roll?
Whatever happened to my rock ‘n’ roll?
Last weekend I headed downtown with some friends to see one of our favorite hard rockin’ party bands, Diamond Lane, play at a club called El Corozon. And they did not disappoint, powering and strutting through a 30-40 minute energetic set. But who was this band that was going on right before Diamond Lane, this band who were touring with them, all crammed into one mini-bus?
They’re called Delta Rose. And they play rock ‘n’ roll.
Copyright Life in the Vinyl Lane, 2015
They’ve been at it for a while, too, having put out their four-song Self Titled EP back in 2000. So their latest effort, the six-song Golden, has been a long time coming. And fortunately for me the guys decided to take a chance and pressed a handful of these on vinyl, which includes all the songs from both albums (note that both Self Titled and Golden are also available on CD, and you can listen to all the songs on the band’s website HERE). I picked up a copy at the merch table after the show, and while I’ve been listening to the Golden CD quite a bit over the last week, I’m finally getting around to dropping the needle on the record.
I started off with the B side of the vinyl, which is given over to Self Titled. Right from the start of “Hot Hand Honey,” it’s pure rock ‘n’ roll. Relentless drumming, guitar work that alternates between Judas Priest and George Thorogood and Eddie Van Halen, a little bit of funky bass, and vocals that sound like they’re being sung by the lovechild of Steven Tyler and David Lee Roth. In fact the second song, “Ain’t Dead Yet,” could be a lost Aerosmith classic. And I do mean classic – I’m talking Toys in the Attic / Rocks ear-Aerosmith, not the later stuff. But then it changes, and “Cut You” gives us a killer little blues-rock number, rich and sweet, some true roots stuff. Delta Rose’s influences run deep through the rock cannon.
As good as the Self Titled material is, Golden is even better. “Crazy Little Game” has a bit more edge to it, a bit less pure and little more dirty, and I mean that in a good way, because good rock often has a touch of sleaze to it. “Chew Me Up” gives a bit more of a lo-fi sound to the vocals, while the chorus of “Problem at Home” brings a hint of country rock to the table, as does “Ten Long Years,” a classic Americana song about love and loss (She was my first kiss / And my last real love…) that includes some beautifully soulful guitar work and even a touch of piano/organ. This ability to blend styles while still maintaining a core rock sound is, in a way, the band’s calling card. No matter what flavor of rock is your favorite, you’re going to find things about Delta Rose that you like.
It all comes together on Golden‘s last song, “Golden Umbrella,” a song that just grooves, giving the bass the chance to hold the pace, almost holding the song back and forcing it to stay slow and heavy, keeping the whole thing from exploding and flying off the rails. Throw in some bluesy guitar, and vocals that alternate between lo-fi and raspy rock, and you’ve got a winning formula.
Having seen Delta Rose live, I can totally picture singer/guitarist Spencer Krasch belting out these songs in the studio. Krasch is a force of nature on stage, moving, rocking, sweating like a fiend, he’s pure front-man. But even more, he’s obviously a fan of the music, and not just his own; Krasch and bandmates were out there in the crowd during the Diamond Lane set rocking out right in front of the stage and signing along to every song.
I found my rock ‘n’ roll again. And it feels good. Thanks Delta Rose.