Delicate Steve – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – November 3rd, 2017

Delicate Steve

Eclectic, guitar-led instrumental rock that ranges from playful to somber

Delicate Steve

The blank tapes

Fri, November 3, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$15.00

This event is 21 and over

Delicate Steve
Delicate Steve
When the world first met Delicate Steve in 2011, Steve Marion and the band he principled were an artfully crafted fiction. Tasked with introducing Wondervisions, Delicate Steve's beguiling debut record of highly evocative and emotionally concise guitar-driven songs, Luaka Bop, the seminal David Byrne-owned New York indie label, balked. There was the music to get to; itself essentially reference-less and unqualifiedly unique. But what of the guy who created it? The guitarist who wrote the whole thing, who played every instrument. An enormous unknown talent without an attendant backstory to match the spectral and boundless qualities of his music. Enter Chuck Klosterman. The celebrated writer was brought on to completely fabricate a biography based on a band and album he was asked not to listen to. While the record racked up high praise from outlets including The New York Times and NPR, nearly everything music fans read about Delicate Steve was a fiction. Listeners were left to the music alone to determine who Steve was. As is often the case, some of the first people to recognize Delicate Steve's music were fellow artists who became vocal supporters, as the young guy from upstate New Jersey began to develop a growing fanbase in small New York clubs like Glasslands, Union Pool, and Mercury Lounge. Following the 2012 release of Positive Force, Delicate Steve had cornered the status of 'your favorite band's favorite band', as Steve himself became a fixture in and an on-demand collaborator among disparate scenes, players, and bands, making some of the most celebrated and forward thinking music today: Co-signs and work with David Byrne, Dirty Projectors, tUnE-yArDs, Mac DeMarco, Dr. Dog, and elder statesmen like Lee Ranaldo and Built to Spill. Likely the only guitarist alive who will cut records with Sondre Lerche and Death Grip's Zach Hill. Handpicked to open a sold out North American tour for Tame Impala. And most recently, providing guitar on Paul Simon's new record. These wild artistic relationships came to be because Steve happens to be one of the most talented songwriters and guitarists currently working. But they are also a direct reflection of the person, the soul of a guy any artist or fan who's met him will identify immediately. It's the same soul that fills his songs. This is Steve, Delicate Steve's first new record in 4 years, and first for the ANTI- imprint, is an articulation of this spirit. Joy. Love. Positivity. Perseverance. Meditation. A general communion with the people and world around him. Easy to call such things hackneyed in this cynical time, but in Steve's case, it's very hard to separate the person from the art. It's real. It's pure. This, is Steve. Melody begins with the needle drop on This is Steve, and it's this hallmark as a songwriter on display in tune after tune that has defined all of Delicate Steve's work. It's his incredible capacity to write wordless songs that are impossible not to sing along to. He works in no genre, there are no words, but there is never a question as to what he is saying. Tunes like "Animals," "Help," and "Nightlife," establish their hooks immediately, and drop you with Steve as he runs alongside leopards, scales a Western peak, nurses a boozy Kingston come-down, before clocking out at under three minutes and depositing you somewhere else on
a technicolor continuum. Throughout the set, Steve's guitar melodies rise and crest, unguarded expressions of wonderment and positivity. Steve produced and played all the instruments on this record. He created it as an introduction from himself to you, and named it appropriately. If there is a question as to who This is Steve's creator is, you'll find it imbued in these ten songs. As he has done from the start, Steve lets the music speak for itself. Without a word.

And that's a big part of Delicate Steve - the mystical synergy that music can have with life. It's why the new album is called Positive Force. "I want to put out a positive feeling," says Steve. "It's so much more fun to get people all excited and uplifted."

And like its predecessor, 2010's also aptly titled Wondervisions, Positive Force really is uplifting, straight outta the idyllic, tree-lined streets of Steve's hometown of Fredon, deep in rural New Jersey, where he wrote and recorded this album. (Listen closely and you can hear the local crickets in a couple of songs.) Maybe it's a little more burnished, leisurely and cunningly layered this time, but there's still that winsome Delicate Steve charm, by turns tender and triumphant, of songs like "Big Time Receiver" or "Afria Talks to You." These are eleven soulful, unabashedly heartfelt variations on the theme of joie de vivre, and each of them is kind of irresistible.

Steve not only played all the instruments on the album - very much including the lyrical and virtuosic guitar that defines the album - but he recorded the entire thing, and mixed it too. And that's all very impressive, but the thing to remember is, Steve is first and foremost a songwriter. His compositions have verses and choruses and sometimes even bridges. It's just that he doesn't happen to be a vocalist. So he gets his guitar to do that. That's why, funnily and miraculously enough, this is instrumental music you can sing along to.

Actually, a few songs do have vocals - besides "Two Lovers," there's "Big Time Receiver," "Touch," and "Redeemer." (Steve sings, joined occasionally by Christian Peslak and Mickey Sanchez from the crackerjack Delicate Steve live band) And even then, the human voice is just another instrument. "As guitar-driven as this album might be," Steve says, "I didn't want it to feel like an instrumental record. I wanted it to have a more encompassing thing, so it couldn't be called instrumental." So Steve calls it wordless music.

But where on earth does this wordless music come from? Steve says the inspirations for Positive Force included a bunch of classic rock, like Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the Kinks. You can hear the Beach Boys in "Love," the title of "Afria Talks to You" is a deliberately misspelled reference to Sly Stone, the guitar playing on "Tallest Heights" is Steve's tribute to Michael Jackson's vocal style, and "Luna" is a tribute to Miles Davis. Steve's ultra-expressive, melodic slide work hails back to Derek & the Dominos and George Harrison, and I hear some serious proto-Delicate Steve in Santana's sublime "Samba Pa Ti," not to mention various Afro-pop and all reggae's sunsplashed variations.

But there's a futuristic gleam to Delicate Steve that deletes all comparison to just about anything except maybe contemporaries like Yeasayer, Ratatat and the late, great Ponytail. Yeasayer's Anand Wilder, a big Delicate Steve fan, said the music reminded him of early '80s stuff by French-Beninese musician Wally Badarou, who also made bright, upbeat music drenched in ecstatic sunshine. (That explains the title of "Wally Wilder.")

You might notice the hot licks all over Positive Force. Or you might not, since they're so tastefully deployed. That's a big reason why Steve has become a go-to guitarist in the New York-area underground. One night in December last year, he played at downtown NYC avant music club the Stone with a riveting side project by Anand Wilder - and he was so great that the next band, which featured members of Javelin, Man Man and Cibo Matto, asked him to sit in. In 2011, he did an exquisite collaborative single with the great Brooklyn band Callers, sat in with Nat Baldwin from Dirty Projectors, Akron/Family, Fang Island, Janka Nabay, Yellow Ostrich and Ra Ra Riot, and that May, the Delicate Steve live band backed up Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington on some smokin' Minutemen covers at yours truly's Our Band Could Be Your Life tribute concert in New York.

All this stuff happens not just because Steve is a splendid musician but because he and his music exude what we call in the business "a good vibe." That feeling permeates every nook and cranny of this record. In a world that does its level best to validate every bitter, cynical thought you've ever had, Positive Force is, in its own delightful way, provocative - it challenges you to accept unqualified sweetness and warmheartedness. "The world is already so full of stuff," Steve observes. "So if you're going to put something in, why not make it something good, instead of adding more negativity. That's part of the mission statement."
The blank tapes
The blank tapes
THE BLANK TAPES is the moniker of Los Angeles & San Francisco based musician & artist, Matt Adams, who has produced over a dozen albums of 1960′s inspired psychedelic-surf-pop-folk-rock on an old 8 track cassette tape recorder in various garages, basements, sheds & bedrooms across the California Coast. Lately he’s been polishing up his sound in pro recording studios as can be heard on his 7” single “1000 Leather Tassels / Mr. Mister” released by VOLCOM & 2013’s full length VACATION released by Antenna Farm Records/Burger Records. Along with his band mates, they’ve toured throughout America, Brazil, Europe, & Japan. Other releases have been on White Noise, 20-Sided Records, Curly Cassettes, Dome of Doom, and VOW Records. Matt is also the artist behind his band’s posters & album covers.