For young twentysomethings, Sean Wouters and Nicholas Espinosa sure boast a long history of making music together. The two guys behind Deaf Poets started their first band together as high school freshmen, and only briefly since then played in acts without each other. So for their most recent musical project, they decided to cut the fat, stay a duo, and look back to classic sounds instead of the latest indie-trend flavor of the month.
Picking up on musical strands from icons like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, a chunk of their material is unapologetically bluesy, raw, and raucous. Songs like “This Pain” are rough and ready stompers full of hard-charging choruses and freak-out breakdowns. The comparisons to fellow duo the Black Keys here is obvious, but apt — but that’s not all the Deaf Poets can do. Wouters and Espinosa also publicly proclaim their love of folkies new and old — Bon Iver, Bob Dylan — and in quieter moments, aren’t too shy to get a little acoustic and emotional.
On either end of the spectrum, Deaf Poets boast a polish and stage presence that’s usually scarce on the local circuit. Their go-to-11 performance at this past April’s Sweatstock made the pair the sleeper hits of the festival.
Unsurprisingly, then, the band is one of the first to appear on Sweat Records‘ recently revived in-house label, Sutro Records. Sweat co-founder Lolo Reskin originally created the imprint in 2005 to release early material by ANR. “Things fell to the wayside for a bit after that with the store’s two moves and the band re-organizing themselves,” she says. “When we applied for the Knight Arts Challenge grant in 2009 we wrote in for some funding to put out local vinyl again.”
The label itself will only release vinyl, with each record also accompanied by MP3 downloads. “The future is all about vinyl and digital,” says Reskin. “Many new vinyl releases do include the MP3s but we firmly believe all vinyl should come with downloads in order to optimize LP sales. We hope the industry gets there at some point.”
Deaf Poets’ first seven-inch for the imprint comes out officially this Saturday, featuring “This Pain” on the A-side and the slower “Sally” on the flip side. “They’ve got great energy and they are sincerely nice guys, “says Reskin. “We love their music, they kick ass live, and actually do the work to promote themselves.”
You can buy the seven-inch starting Saturday at Sweat, or head to Churchill’s Pub that night for the official seven-inch release show. Act fast to get a copy — there are 400 being printed, and, collector alert, 100 of those will be on translucent gold vinyl.
Deaf Poets. With Little Beard Psychic Mirrors, Krisp, and North and South. 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2 at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Ave., Miami. Admission is $7 for just the show, or $10 for entrance plus a copy of the seven-inch. Age 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807, or visit churchillspub.com