Durham-based folk-rock sextet Delta Rae has signed to Sire Records, a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group. Their label mates will include Avenged Sevenfold, Jack’s Mannequin, Regina Spektor and a host of other bands that water down otherwise interesting musical ideas until they are highly safe and consumable. In short, this is just where Delta Rae belongs.
According to their manager, Adam Schlossman, the group signed the contract a week ago in New York before a show at the Mercury Lounge. The first album in the multi-record deal, a full-length follow-up to the band's 2010 self-titled EP, is expected out in late spring or early summer. Work on the release has already begun thanks to funding from Delta Rae's successful Kickstarter campaign.
Delta Rae unites the backwoods twang of old-time string music and gospel with mainstream forms, a formula deployed successfully by many of their Triangle peers, including Justin Robinson & the Mary Annettes, Hiss Golden Messenger and Megafaun. In Delta Rae’s case, the modern quotient comes in the form of highly varnished Nashville glitz, grinding out the grit of a typically gripping style in the process.
They're the kind of group that can power a single (“Bottom of the River”) with a chain-gang stomp, then make a video in which their platinum-blonde singer marches several hooded African-Americans across a plantation before leaving them lying on the ground, apparently dead. She prances off giggling. Somehow, Delta Rae didn't get the irony or complications, swapping deeper meaning for simple false provocation.
These major labels never learn, do they? There's always the hope that wizened industry vets will help sharpen their approach. Too bad they didn’t sign to American.