I first heard Deer Tick on their debut War Elephant which to this day I still hold a high regard for. The problem is, that since War Elephant, well, Deer Tick haven’t quite lived up to my expectations and even though last album The Black Dirt Sessions received some downright tasty reviews, it still didn’t compare to the alt-country folk that Deer Tick had on display on their debut and quite frankly, I have now lost faith in the band.
Enter their latest album, Divine Providence.
In interviews on the lead-up to this album the band said that they wanted to show the riotous, raw sound that they have live and with Divine Providence they’ve achieved this, betraying their sound that I loved on War Elephant in the process and warping themselves back to the sixties where it seemed fashionable to play fast and play loud.
Opening track, The Bump, has a Rolling Stones feel to it and encapsulates the sound for the rest of the album with its jangling guitars, John McCauleys raspy vocals and not to mention a country and western Jools Holland-esque piano entrance mid-way that makes me question whether I’ve stumbled into some re-make of a scene from The Alamo. Let’s All Go To The Bar is a rousing two hundred miles an hour drunk of a song complete with group vocals that makes me actually want to go to the bar and mindlessly bottle someone for looking at me funny. Lead single Main Street is a little more from what we’ve come to expect from Deer Tick with its simple bass drum led rhythm section, an underlying organ and the first real vocal hook for a chorus with McCauley shouting ‘Goodbye time, you ain’t on my side’, it’s a bit Jet, it’s a bit Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but it really is good. And luckily it isn’t all balls to the floor upbeat stuff with tracks like Make Believe that show that Deer Tick have a more sensitive side (a sensitive side that features female backing vocals no doubt) and help to give the album a better flow.
The problem with Divine Providence isn’t that it is bad, because it really isn’t, in fact, I would go as far to say that it is a good album. The problem is that listening to it is like watching the high school dance scene out of Back To The Future. Yeah sure, I like Back To The Future as much as the next geeky guy, and I like the sixties sound as much as most avid music fans do but all this record does is show how uninventive this era is for music. We’re constantly stealing ideas from classic bands and the time has surely come for us to be more creative with the output of music surely, after all, who is going to want to listen to some knock off of Rolling Stones or The Stooges when they can just sift through their records and listen to the real thing?
So final verdict: It’s no War Elephant, but it does go some way into restoring my faith in Deer Tick.