Reviewed by: Geno Thackara
“What do you say we get out of here,” Ben Ringel wails while flying through “California,” a hard-pounding escapist groove for a late-night cruise. “We can’t stay / load up a car / and let your mind just slip away.” The leadoff single is adventurously fun enough that I don’t even mind him pronouncing it “Californ-eye-ay” to make a rhyme. This kicks things off with a bang, and for the rest of Monte Vista‘s running time, the Delta Saints continue cranking their impressively eclectic roots-rock up to the rafters. We’ve got the elements of fiery Americana and Southern blues still there from past albums, but this one also shows their heaviest dose yet of juicy rock and roll.
Within the band’s rollicking wheelhouse there’s space to touch on an impressive range of tones. You can hear some prime Rolling Stones by way of New Orleans in the jangly “Burning Wheels,” or maybe fuzzy alt-rock through “Are You.” There’s a new level of psychedelia with the Zep-meets-Cream of “Sun God” and (of course) the aptly-titled David Bowie homage “Space Man.” In other spots they’d rather touch on brooding grunge or front-porch folk. The band handily avoids any risk of sounding like a mere imitation or throwback through it all; whatever they do, they do their own way with equal parts sweat and electricity.
There’s a bit less of the improvisational side they showed with the grooves on 2015’s Bones, though it’s balanced out with an increased focus on well-crafted hooks and choruses to get bodies moving. There’ll probably be more jams aplenty to accompany these songs once they hit the stage, and Monte Vista should handily convince a new round of converts to come out and experience the rush for themselves. It packs a rootsy hard-rocking punch with grit and swagger to spare.