Quaint Delusions is a band from the outskirts of Tampa, Florida that has just released their second album titled This Far Out.
With a cast of players who are all veterans of the Tampa Bay music scene, this diverse crew includes founding member Michael Starks (vocals/guitar/keyboards/percussion) along with Roger Hughes (guitar/vocals), Steve Dicks (bass), David Lane (lap steel/vocals) and Kevin DeHart (drums).
Michael Starks has been around the Tampa area since the early 1980’s while attending graduate school, intending to find a job that would “enable him to save the world.” He wound up becoming a hydrogeologist with an environmental consulting gig that spanned several decades (you can already guess that these guys are not high school punks!). Eventually realizing that “saving the world was a long shot,” Starks returned to his passion for music as the 1980’s became the ‘90s with a band called The Utensils, then followed up with several solo albums. Roger Hughes and Steve Dicks then asked if Starks might be interested in joining their cool band. But Starks instead got Hughes and Dicks to join his band, which finally became Quaint Delusions.
Musically the band place themselves in the indie and alternative genres, with influences from The Beatles, Guided By Voices, glam and punk. Playing live, they’ve been known to cover Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Most recording took place in the band members’ homes, with drum tracking, mixing and mastering by Jim Morris of Morrisound Recording in Tampa.
The first surprise upon hearing this music while listening on Bandcamp is the group photo: though the players are clearly men of a certain age (no shame, so am I) the voices and vitality within the songs sound like indie rockers still in college!
“Happy Ending” is a slow tempo, offbeat rocker that introduces the band’s double-guitar barrage backed by Michael Starks’ piano. As mentioned, the singers will have you imagining young guys in band tees with all their hair intact. The lyrics are somewhat opaque, perhaps recounting a near death experience, a time spent in battle or even a trip to the planet Enceladus (I had to look that up!).
“Had To Be You” takes us back to Skinny Tie Land with an upbeat post-punk jam (though the style actually recalls very early Kinks or Who). I think I’m hearing David Lane’s lap steel, which he plays more like an electric guitar and slide. Cool sound and perfect for the track!
“Rest Of The Way” is a slow, bluesy shuffle with very cool, ghosty-sounding sustained fuzz guitar that might remind you of Joe Walsh or Steve Miller (in fact, the vibe here is quite similar to Miller’s iconic “The Joker”).
“A Credit To You” is based on a slow piano boogie riff, with the overall sound reminiscent of the late great Daniel Johnston when recording with a full band. The arrangement, lyrical conceit and Starks’ plaintive vocals all have a Johnston-like quality. The lap steel here has more of a classic country feel. This track in particular shows off the band’s tendency to build musical backgrounds with diverse pieces and short riffs, instead of everybody hanging on the exact same voicings.
After a fun unscripted studio moment, “Why’d You Wait So Long” is an amiable rocker with glam affectations (early Bowie, Lou Reed, Mott) with driving, overdriven guitars and amazing chorus vocals. Cranking the speed even faster, “Ashtray” is a funny punk-like song about those assbite smokers who insist on using the whole world as their ashtray (“What a dick!”). Bruce Nocita guests on guitar. Slide and piano are big players here, and the song ends just as it starts to peak.
“So Many Pieces” mellows out for a gentle dialogue between guitars and piano, with honest, close-up harmony vocals by Mr. Stark. I’d call this dreampop by way of Pink Floyd wishing you were here. Quite different from the previous tracks, it’s a touching rumination on one’s place in the world.
“Funny” begins with a McCartney-esque descending piano riff, with each subsequent instrument joining unhurriedly and with their own discrete spots within the stereo field. Stark’s final vocal is smooth and regular-guy vulnerable, as he carries all the lyrics without benefit of overdubs or harmonies. The sentiment seems to be an honest appraisal of a relationship that might benefit from more openness and less negativity as time marches on. At least that’s my take, and one that I appreciate!
These guys have a great sound and really nice songs! So happy I discovered this album and I hope you will too!