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The Great American Record: That’s what San Diego–formed rock band Delta Spirit set out to make. “People make records for their time, and we wanted to make one for our time,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Vasquez of the band’s third full-length release. “Not one about yesterday, but one about right now.” The resulting effort, a self-titled album out now via Rounder Records, accomplishes the quintet’s lofty goal. ¶ Which Great American Records did Vasquez and bandmates Jon Jameson, Brandon Young, Kelly Winrich and Will McLaren use as inspiration? We found out.

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Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
“This album stands out because of its production, arrangement and lyricism. It has certainly marked our time in hip-hop. It has a uniquely dark fidelity that gives you a more tangible feeling.”

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Tom Waits
The Black Rider (1993)
“This is, in my opinion, the best Tom Waits record. It’s like taking a journey into someone’s very sick and sentimental mind. Listen to this record late at night, driving through the desert, and it’ll sure make you feel something.”

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Prince
1999 (1990)
“With most of the songs over six minutes, this record doesn’t ever feel long-winded because the grooves are just too good. The song ‘D.M.S.R.’ has one of the most irresistible hooks.”

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Beck
Sea Change (2002)
“This record came out when everyone thought he was just some weird, genius producer. It was interesting that making a more simple record was actually more rebellious than making something crazier.”

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D’Angelo
Voodoo (2000)
“If you’ve been living in a cave for the past 12 years and you haven’t heard this record, please do yourself a favor. Track nine, ‘Spanish Joint,’ is a standout. If you don’t like this song, chances are you don’t like music at all.”