At first glance, thanks to song titles such as "Got God," "Mortal Sin" and "Deacons," it seems like Deleted Scenes' debut album, Birdseed Shirt, is going to be some kind of Christian rock compilation. Once you stop judging the album by its cover, though, it's clear that the Brooklyn, N.Y.- and Washington, D.C.-based four-piece probably isn't jammin' for J.C.
In any case, if there are religious undertones on these recordings, they're referring to a pretty lax variety of holy rolling. In the bluesy Americana ditty "Got God," the band sings about being some poor soul who "got God, got bored, lost God, stayed bored, got drunk, found God once again, stayed drunk, now [is] singin' [his] sins." Meanwhile, "Get Your Shit Together for the Holidays" is hardly a tale of redemption, with lyrics such as "Dust off a box of old forgotten clothes / If you clean up nice, no one will ever know / 'Cause what's the point of one more disguise / When you're not even yourself in your daily life?"
No matter what direction the band's lyrics take, its approach to songcraft - a blend of folk-rock and psychedelic jangle-pop, plus a few other odds and ends - is spot-on if you're a fan of melodic indie rock. Birdseed's a bit like the Shins here, a bit like Syd Barrett there, with some mid-'90s Radiohead and Dismemberment Plan thrown in for good measure. Some of the most enjoyable moments on the album, however, are when the band doesn't really sound like any of these precursors but something entirely unexpected. On "Mortal Sin," the band takes an acid-rock trip that's absolutely habit-forming, while "Ithaca" features a beat that's weirdly reminiscent of the old Filter tune "Take a Picture." Even "Turn to Sand," which begins like a pretty straight-ahead pop song, surprises after a few bars thanks to a sneak attack of blues licks.