Image courtesy of Deer Tick
Deer Tick have been one of music’s best kept secrets of the last few years. I felt their debut album War Elephant was sure to propel them to fame, and when it didn’t, I was sure that their sophomore album Born On A Flag Day certainly would, and when that didn’t, there was no doubt in my mind that their latest offering Black Dirt Sessions would. Now, however, it seems as though front-man John McCauley may finally reach widespread notoriety through his new super-group Middle Brother, formed with members of Delta Spirit and Dawes.
Deer Tick are a perfectly balanced amalgamation of half a dozen musical styles that I’m not all-together fond of or savvy with in their isolation. Equal parts dirty blues, early straight-laced rock & roll, grunge and folk- I’d put them somewhere between The Black Keys, The Felice Brothers and Band Of Horses. This diversity is what drew me in all those years ago, and what keeps bringing me back, even if a long time goes by between listens.
Like most of my favourite bands, my favourite Deer Tick album was their debut. I came across it by complete accident. I remember- I only checked it out in the first place because I liked the combination of the words ‘war’ and ‘elephant’. I was pleasantly surprised by track one- “Ashamed”- which I’ve been known to actually cite as my favourite song by any artist of all time, which is certainly not true, but when people put me on the spot, this is often the first song that comes to mind. It’s a folky affair, like a decent portion of their music, but I find that their most raw and intense songs, particularly from their debut, are generally the ones I find the most convincing. “Standing At The Treshold” and “Not So Dense” being prime examples from this record. The folk lover needn’t despair, tracks like “Nevada”, “These Old Shoes” and “Art Isn’t Real” are phenomenal pieces too. Moving on in their discography, their 2009 album Born On A Flag Day and 2010 album Black Dirt Sessions are similar in that they’re just so consistent that it’s barely worth mentioning any one track over another- but I will say that “Smith Hill” and “Goodbye, Dear Friend” are personal favourites. The Deer Tick sound hardly changed at all between albums one two and three- perhaps the only major difference being an ever improving quality of production, which even then, is no real benefit to me due to the fact that I’m very fond of the charm that the rawer tracks from War Elephant bring to the table.
Middle Brother‘s debut self-titled album is a good listen. I don’t like it as much as Deer Tick, but I’m glad that there was a lot of hype around the release. Who knows, maybe Deer Tick‘s next release will be met with the same anticipation and enthusiasm. But for now, I’ll continue to be happy walking around in my faded, glow-in-the-dark Deer Tick tee-shirt- iPod blaring, and timing my steps purposefully in synch with “Standing At The Threshold”‘s pulsating guitar riff.
Country Of Origin: America (Providence, Rhode Island)
File Under: Blues, Rock, Folk, Grunge
Sounds Like: Nothing like Bright Eyes, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Band Of Horses or The Felice Brothers. But somehow if they all combined, you might get something close.