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Take Note: The Delphines
Four grad students transplants are making a name for themselves in their adopted home.

Take Note is a new, reoccurring feature here at Music Notes. It spotlights up-and-coming Milwaukee bands and musicians.

Photo of The Delphines new album from their Facebook page.

Say hello to the Delphines: the new guys and girl on the block and quite possibly the friendliest band in town. When I caught up with them Sunday night after their performance at Impala Lounge, they headed off my questions by thanking me graciously for coming and apologizing for bad sound during their set – awfully humble for a band that has risen so quickly through the ranks of Milwaukee’s rock faction since forming in August. And as much as I appreciated it, their thanks and apologies were actually unnecessary. I would have been at the show regardless of our scheduled interview, because the band is trudge-through-the-cold-and-rain-on-a-Sunday-night-to-see-it good. And even though the sound could have been better, it would have taken more than a shoddy PA system to bury a Delphines hook.  

The band is Jami Eaton, Harrison Colby, Lucas Riddle and Jeremy Ault – four students who relocated to Milwaukee for grad school from Richmond, Pittsburgh and Madison. So far, they like it here, and the feeling seems to be mutual. “Milwaukee loves rock and roll, it seems like,” says guitarist Colby. “Whether it’s psych, garage, rockabilly, whatever. They love three chords.” Lead vocalist and main songwriter Eaton adds: “Milwaukee supports anything that comes from Milwaukee. In other cities often it’s like, ‘I support them as much as I hope they’re not better than me.’”

Their first impressions of the city – as an egalitarian rock ’n’ roll utopia – may explain why these relative foreigners have been able to take root so quickly with their noisy, no-frills garage pop. On the recently released Fear EP, the Delphines combine the mild shoegaze of Black Tambourine and the ’60s bubblegum of the Ronettes for 10 minutes of fast-paced, buzzy toe-tappers. The music is fuzzed-out but sweet – all boomerang surf guitar and punchy drums – but the lyrics bring up darker themes like death, fear and isolation that give these pop nuggets tantalizing depth. On Panic, a single released via Bandcamp last week, the band slides into even darker territory on two tracks influenced by the film Panic In Needle Park, a love story about two New York drug addicts that, oddly enough, has no soundtrack. “It’s Jami and I’s favorite movie,” says Colby. “It’s one of Al Pacino’s first movies, and it’s just a great movie. So the songs were kind of inspired by that.” The band is at work on a new EP called God Help The Delphines, inspired by some of their other favorite movies from the ’60s and ’70s. “It’s way heavier than Fear,” says Colby of the upcoming release. “Just way more rock ’n’ roll as opposed to surf bubblegum kind of stuff.”

The Delphines have a flurry of shows scheduled for November, including performances in Minneapolis, Madison and a big one at Quarter’s on Nov. 30, when they’ll open for Chicago garage rock duo White Mystery.

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