Deleted Scenes admit to being meticulous about their multi-layered music, and the group’s debut CD, “Birdseed Shirt,” took about a year to record and mix.
“We’re a very slow-working band,” said singer-guitarist Dan Scheuerman. “The mixing process was long and exhaustive and exhausting; my brain was mush by the end of it. [Recording engineer L Skell] is the most detail-oriented, verging-on-obsessive person I’ve ever met.”
But his obsessiveness gives “Birdseed Shirt” (What Delicate Recordings) a haunting sonic depth, with a sound that is big but not cavernous. The band’s patience and attention to detail paid off, too: “Birdseed Shirt” is one of the D.C. area’s finest indie-rock CDs ever released, sounding a bit like the reverbed Americana of My Morning Jacket if that band wasn’t always lost in the Grand Canyon, or a more vibrant version of Galaxie 500’s gentle psychedelia.
The recording process was also interrupted by touring and the group splitting its time between D.C. and New York City, with a few members still in college. But some of Deleted Scenes’ songs have been kicking around for years, as all four members have played music with each other since they were kids growing up in Olney and Gaithersburg, Md.
Scheuerman’s voice is a wounded ghost, recalling the unpolished desperation of The Verlaines’ Graeme Downes, Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham and even Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. And his lyrics seem equally despairing, as on the album-closing “Get Your Shit Together for the Holidays.”
“It’s not really a holiday song as much as it’s a song about family,” Scheuerman said, followed by a big sigh. It’s actually a song about kicking an addiction, as he sings, “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?”
“Fake IDs” is equally frustrated, and a 17-year-old Deleted Scenes fan was inspired to make a video for the song.
“We were floored. I thought it got the mood of the song really well,” Scheuerman said. “[The video] depicts a couple, and the wife explodes, and then the song takes off. It’s very dark and weird.”