by Jon Frazier
I don’t know why Steve Marion calls his band “Delicate Steve.” I would like to officially suggest renaming the band “Awesome Steve” or even, “Totally Awesome Steve.”
I first heard about Delicate Steve (and their insanely funny hoax of a press release) on NPR, and I listened to their song “Butterfly” about twenty times over on YouTube that night. (The video is pretty rad, too.) I was on the verge of buying the album then and there. But on the twenty-first listen, I decided that I should wait and see if they were still totally awesome in a few weeks.
I got through the end of school and the better part of May without thinking about Delicate Steve again, but then I saw the album, Wondervisions, at my local record store and decided to pick it up. And four weeks later, it was still totally awesome.
I‘m hesitant to even describe their music, beyond telling you that it‘s “Totally Awesome.” Their sound is a musical hybrid, composed of a decidedly eastern tonality presented with western embellishments of electric guitar and synthesizer. Yet it all still makes musical sense, which is really hard to pull off on a completely instrumental album. Yes, it‘s all instrumental, but don‘t run away just yet. The album has the sensibilities of a film score, offering distinctly different pieces with recurring themes and familiar sounds so that listener never loses interest. (I would not be surprised if Marion branches off into film music at some point.) I get bored with most all instrumental albums after about two tracks. I have listened to Wondervisions maybe four times start to finish, and can‘t count how many times I‘ve listened to the stand out tracks — “Butterfly,”“Don‘t Get Stuck (Proud Elephants),” and “The Ballad of Speck and Pebble.” (How can you not love a band that has a song called “The Ballad of Speck and Pebble”?)
I doubt Delicate “Awesome” Steve will get a lot of radio play, but Wondervisions is easily one of the best albums of the year. Check out Delicate Steve and let us know what you think, or leave a comment with your thoughts on instrumental albums, in general.