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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Schramms - Walk to Delphi

 Name: (the) Schramms
Album: Walk to Delphi
Style: Folk-Country
Similar Bands: Yo La Tengo, Jayhawks, Wilco, Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo
One Word Review: Twangy Rodeo Rock
Based Out Of: New York City
Label: OKra, Rough Trade
 Walking To Delphi - Cover & Record
Walking to Delphi - Back, Liner Sheet
Walking to Delphi (1989)
  1. Walk to Delphi 3:47
  2. Out of the Earth 3:16
  3. Living in Confusion 4:59
  4. Letdown Later 4:30
  5. It's Not What She Wants 4:22 /
  6. Big Stink 3:30
  7. Everytime 3:58
  8. The Way Some People Die 4:03
  9. Number Nineteen 3:50
  10. Gusano Verde 3:25
  11. Of All the Souls 2:53 
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Dave Schramm - Vox, Guitar, Harmonica (Yo La Tengo, Kate Jacobs, Chris Stamey)
Terry Karydes - Keys, Vox, Drums (Yo La Tengo)
Ron Metz - Drums (The Human Switchboard, Yo La Tengo)
Al Greller - Bass (Peter Stampfel & Bottlecaps, Yo La Tengo)
Mike Lewis - Bass (Yo La Tengo, Lyres, DMZ, )
Tom Quinn- Mandolin (Jack Lord;s Hair, Mud Pie, Mud Pie Sun, Rocknoceros, The Real Gone)
Pete Linzell - Sax (Andy G & The Roller Kinds, Los Primos, Devil Dogs)
Todd Novak - Guitar (Cowlicks, The Cycle Paths, The Dragsters, Kevin Salem)
Peter Moser - Cover Art
Gary Arnold - Producer

Unknown-ness: Never heard of this band, but I really like the cover art and backing photo artwork. Makes me think it will have an earthy, folksy feel, but still have a worldy, and interesting intelligence about it.  I'm expecting a Los Lobos meets Half Japanese feel.

Album Review: So the Schramms, originally a placeholder name when they found out their previous name was already in use, have a lot of ties to Yo La Tengo’s very early years. Founding and namesake member Dave Schramm left Yo La Tengo after their first album and many other band mates were involved with the early years as well. Their US distribution was through Rough Trade, which coincidentally folded just as they were beginning their first album push.

“Walk to Delphi” is a county rocking song with exaggerated, drawn our vocal syllables. It never really deviated from its pace or tempo, only building a little to go into the chorus. The instrumental at the end relies heavily on country style, mixed with rock, to make the definitive alt-country style.
“Out of the Earth” continues with the twangy vocals, and a slower story-song style, with slide guitar, quiet backing vocals, and harmonica instrumental section.
“Living in Confusion” is light, and features wood block percussion. The long vocal notes rise and fall, offering a defined country style. The instrumental at the end features slide guitar heavily.
“Letdown Later” is all acoustic guitar in the beginning. Then it launches into a jangley stomper with a defined verse-chorus structure. The instrumental features a shrill keyboard section that honky’s up the tonk (this sounded like a good description in my head).
“It's Not What She Wants” is a slower ballad, relying on organ-like notes held. It picks up in energy after a minute goes by, and continues the upward momentum with an almost rocking out chorus. Once it finds the hook and momentum, it rides it out for the rest of the song.

“Big Stink” starts side two as a theatrical western instrumental, with an upbeat tempo and plenty of slide guitar and organ in the latter part of the song.
“Everytime” shuffles along with a quick drum beat, sort of like the tempo of a train. Jangly guitar and drawn out vocals make up the rest of the songs motivation. The momentum is held though out the whole song, until the train makes it to the destination, and the instruments are peeled back
“The Way Some People Die” is a harmonica heavy, jangly singer-songwriter tune. The chorus melody is catchy, reminding me a little of the Violent Femmes (and the Bluebells), as it builds. It’s probably the most approachable and accessible song on the album.
“Number Nineteen” is a slowly building song with a swaying, sing song melody, and dual harmonicas. It kinda makes me imagine what John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants) would sound like singing country. The instrumental section slows down to a near-stall, before guitar kicks it back into gear. This song is more folky than country.
“Gusano Verde” starts as a double dose blast of chaotic, echoing rums and guitar. Then a slower, heel dragging section that also comes off as very cinematic, rolls along, kicking up dust in a small western town’s dirt road and blowing it into mini tornados. The instrumental continues along, with peaks and valleys of emotional and somewhat progressive musical sections until it just gives out.
“Of All the Souls” wraps up the album with acoustic guitar, and sloppy lyrical presentation that hits at drunkenness. It is very folky in execution, and a church organ kicks in about the 2 minute mark to finish out the song and album.

Stand Out Track: The Way Some People Die


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