Four To Watch: Delicate Steve, Jonquil, DVAS, John Wesley Coleman

This week in dance.

Videos by American Songwriter

Delicate Steve

Steve Marion may not be New Jersey’s favorite son, yet, but when his debut record, Wondervisions, comes out on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label in January, he’ll be moving in the right direction. In keeping with Luaka Bop’s eclectic nature, Delicate Steve has a found-object aesthetic much like labelmates Javelin, though in Marion’s case it’s more in the spirit of field recordings than ripping tracks off bargain cassette tapes. In Marion’s world, little sound bites are given microscopic love – the noise a guitar makes when it’s repeatedly plugged into a digital interface becomes a fascinating case study. On songs like “Sugar Splash,” Marion calls to mind the Dirty Projectors with tumbling, trebly, stop-start guitars, and then builds the song to a climaxing guitar part that’s so treated with effects it comes off like a cross between a toy kazoo and a sitar.


This Oxford, England trio borrows some of the island sunniness of Vampire Weekend, making their new EP, One Hundred Suns (Dovecote, November 16), aptly titled. Jangly, highlife guitars and a bit of danciness prop up the band’s anthemic songs, which recall Mumford & Sons’ heart-on-your-sleeve vocals. Band member Hugo Manuel, who also takes a producer credit on Jonquil records, puts out music under his solo moniker, Chad Valley. Those tunes veer into more of a club atmosphere, with processed vocals and click-clack drum machines, but if you like the beach party vibe, stick with Jonquil.


On “Society,” the lead single from Toronto dance revivalists DVAS’s album Society (Upper Class Recordings, November 16), singer Jered Stuffco sings, “Isn’t it nice to break free from the VIPs tonight.” “Society”‘s synthesizer and slap bass could easily have been lifted off Marcia Griffith’s “Electric Boogie” (that’s the “Electric Slide” song from those middle school dances). But DVAS also comes off like a modern group, something akin to Cut Copy, with less grittiness. There’s a Cut Copy-esque crunch on “Consenting Adults” and midway through the instrumental “Inner Sanctum” the entire mix is sent through a harsh, Daft Punk-like compression. Elsewhere on Society, DVAS are shameless purveyors of yacht rock and ’90s adult-contemporary, at once jokey and quite serious. That irony may be lost on Stuffco, who recently mouthed off to AOL’s Spinner with his thoughts on hipster culture. But if DVAS just let the music speak for itself, they may find that Chromeo sweet spot of irony and awesome that they’re reaching for.

Photo credit: Don Perry

John Wesley Coleman

On Bad Lady Goes To Jail (Goner Records), this Austin songwriter does the blues like early Stones or Warlocks, but mostly channels Lou Reed, as on the pure early-Velvet’s feel of “Can’t Stop Dreaming.” On “Go Baby Go,” Coleman shows he’s got the same knack for simple hooks as Kurt Vile, though there’s something that takes Vile’s ‘60s garage nuggets to a whole new level of scuzz. In the psychotropic stream of consciousness of “Ooh Basketball,” Coleman mindlessly but passionately intones “ooooohhh basketball/ I want to play basketball” over an entirely in-the-red mix. It sounds like it was recorded with one beat-up SM57 hanging from the ceiling of a garage. Coleman is also a writer, who released a Bukowski-esque book of poetry called American Trashcan, and wrote a screenplay inspired by “drunken angel” songwriter Blaze Foley. There are also plans to re-issue Coleman’s first album, which only ever came out on vinyl.


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