Music Review: Deer Tick by uncdiversions
June 24, 2009, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Deer Tick

Born on Flag Day


Their name might not sound pleasant, but the sound of Rhode Island’s Deer Tick’s is the real thing. And while Deer Tick might hail from the north, the band cultivates a backwoods feel on Born on Flag Day, bringing grit, snarling vocals and a steady barrage of raging lyrics that make for an intense and well-crafted record.

One of the most impressive aspects of Born on Flag Day is the transparent emotion that shines through each song. “Little White Lies,” with its twang and old-school country lyrics, could pull even the happiest listener into Deer Tick’s depths of sorrow. The combination of reverberating, angry guitars and raspy vocals immediately communicates a venomous intensity that endures on subsequent tracks.

On the slower track “Smith Hill,” the drawn out guitar chords and dramatic lyrics, like “I could drink myself to death tonight,” convey a sense of deep and lasting loss that few songwriters ever capture.

Born on Flag Day is impressive, but one track weighs down the momentum the band establishes in the first portion of the album. “Friday XIII” integrates a weak female voice that sounds incredibly out of place next to the rest of the band’s fervor.

Despite the numerous odes to loves lost and the poor decisions that caused them, Deer Tick strays from their furious melancholy in the roaring Americana arrangements. The raucous, upbeat music feels it comes straight out of a modern Texas saloon, and on “Straight Into a Storm,” there’s even a holler for good measure.

The band’s ability to sing the blues without veering into cliché territory is equally impressive. They maintaina fine balance between colloquial cowboy language-complete with a few twangs and hoots-and poetic verse. The balance of simple harmonies and pointed yet philosophical lyrics greatly enhances the album. “I tried to treat you with respect, can’t you do me one better than neglect,” singer John McCauley reflects on “The Ghost,” pinning down the age-old inequity between the devoted lover and the user who dries him up.

Deer Tick’s inventive and energetic brand of Americana is at once refreshing and nostalgic, balancing the fine line between blues clichés and the inaccessibility of artistic pop. This band might come from Providence, but listening to Born on Flag Day, it’s obvious that they can play and sing like road-tested, hard-rocking cowboys, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

– By Diversions Staff Writer Linnie Greene


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