Santa Cruz’s Deep Ellum hail from a rock and roll land where grooving has no time restraints.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Deep Ellum uses a trio of atypical terms to define its music: “bootcut boogie,” “cosmic country” and “roadhouse rock and roll.”
From the sound of the recently released debut EP by guitarist/singer David Glasebrook, bassist Nicholas Gyorkos, Hammond organist and Wurlitzer player Dave Faulkner and drummer Jeff Wilson, Welcome to Deep Ellum – and particularly the album closer “Mississippi Moon” – there’s one more label to add: “midnight ramblers.”
The epic, 9-minute track attacks using an archetype implemented by the Allman Brothers, most famously with their 33-minute “Mountain Jam” on the seminal Eat a Peach: Slip in an extended jam or two among a group of more radio-friendly tunes to showcase the band’s musicality. For Deep Ellum, “Mississippi Moon” turned out to be the centerpiece of the record, next to pleasant, shorter side trips including the Little Richard rump-shaker “Long Time Gone” and the straightforward, jalopy blues number “Brokedown Bronco.” From the John Fogerty – salted, reverberated blues guitar riff that opens the tune to the crossroads-bar harmonica and organ glowing with Booker T. Jones afro sheen, there’s absolutely no filler.
“We tried to strike a balance between well-written pop songs and being able to play them with an aloofness that’s reminiscent of all our favorite rock albums from the late ’60s and early ’70s as well as blues and jazz,” Glasebrook says. “We wanted to make an album that’s a really good snapshot of the band.”
Along with Deep Ellum’s four solid tracks, which will make up only part of its set tonight at the Golden State Theatre, they went above and beyond on the EP in terms of sound, presentation and production despite time and financial limitations. The 7-inch vinyl – an all-analog effort recorded live at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco – yields a much warmer and smoother feel than it would have if modern-day equipment were used.
“It’s like seeing one of your favorite films on film in a great theater with a wonderful projectionist versus watching it at home on your laptop,” Glasebrook explains. “There’s no information lost in an all-analog process and it’s easier to listen to, more dynamic and evolving. It’s purely mechanical, actually a physical reproduction of the sound we made.”
Deep Ellum set out to make the kind of record that people get excited about after hearing a new song on the radio.
“It’s all about making a record that you wish was already out there,” Glasebrook says. “I think we succeeded.”
Opener Levi Strom hopes his third full-length release, Surf Country, featuring alt-country rockers Sparrows Gate, can stir up that kind of excitement.
He doesn’t have a snappy description like “bootcut boogey” for his dreamy concoction of sumptuous harmonies, reverb guitar parts and the singer-songwriter’s imperfect vocals. Instead, he says, “The music kinda wrote itself.”
DEEP ELLUM and LEVI STROM perform 8pm Thursday, Jan. 3, at the Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St., Monterey. $10. 297-2472.