"Please beware of them that stare, They'll only smile to see you while, Your time away, And once you've seen what they have been, To win the earth just won't seem worth, Your night or your day, Who'll hear what I say." -Nick Drake (from "Things Behind the Sun," Pink Moon)
Alex Delanda is a physical representation of his music: With striking eyes and an expressive, angular face, he articulates himself delicately, in a manner that's almost elderly. If you were to only see the subtly worn lines around his eyes, you may think him much older than his 28 years.
He talks about the garden that he's planted outside his kitchen window. His house, like his music, is imprinted with the aching mystery of his personality.
Vocalist-guitarist Delanda and electric guitarist Karl Husoe are Out Brief Candle. Their music is a sublime opiate, the kind of reverberating sadness that you want to put on the record player when everything else seems devoid of meaning. It's sad, sure, but fulfilling by way of heartrending poignancy.
Meeting in a rock 'n' roll history class at UCSD in September of 2002, Delanda and Husoe released their self-titled debut a year later.
This day, they are pacing the boundaries of Balboa Park on a blindingly beautiful Saturday. Delanda is nervous. Husoe is nervous via his bandmate's nervousness. They both fidget with the lengthy guitar-picking fingernails on their right hands and stare at the horizon when they talk.
"I'm sure everyone would consider themselves shy at some point," Delanda says. He falls silent and looks at his cigarette. "Sometimes I find it hard, myself. If we're out at a party, we're not selling our band to people and such."
"In a lot of ways, we're our own worst enemy when it comes to P.R.," Husoe adds.
He's right. Out Brief Candle takes elements of Cat Power, Elliott Smith and the spindly delicacy of Songs: Ohia and inserts a measure of lyrical smarts. It's not exactly fighting for space on Top-40 big-beat radio.
"What I've found is that it's harder to play in front of five friends than it is to play to a couple hundred strangers," Delanda explains. "I'm always worried whether someone is going to find a connection between them and a song. That's scary. But that's what makes our music so valuable, that personality."
The band's acute self-awareness, however uncomfortable onstage, is what translates into a reeling opus on disc. Their new self-titled album was recorded in Delanda's garage on a half-inch reel-to-reel machine. Delanda lives in Golden Hill, so every time a plane roars overhead on descent to Lindbergh Field, its sound crossfades from one side of the stereo speakers to the other.
A bit creepy.
"With just the two of us, we're in a vulnerable position in that we don't have a rhythm section or lots of other things and noise that covers up any of the mistakes we make. So it's kind of a tricky balance," Delanda stutters.
Along with the Shakespearian allusion of their band name, Out Brief Candle represents a slightly nobler side of creation. As Husoe opines, "We're not trying to be millionaires at this." As if by pure instinct, their album matches the poetic rhythm that Shakespeare made famous in literature, but avoids being corny in the dramatic process.
"It would be nice to create something where someone could fall asleep to it, but, at the same time, wake up to it as well," Delanda says. "I want it to feel like if all your friends were going out to a party or a show or something and you decide to stay in and put on an album, our music makes you feel like it's alright to stay in."©
Out Brief Candle performs with Yovee and Scarlet Symphony at The Casbah on April 26. Free. 619-232-HELL.