Deer Tick – Vol 1 & Vol. 2 (album review)

by Woody on September 15, 2017

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Photo credit – Laura Partain

I’m happy to say I was there when the boys found renewed vigor for recording new music. After scrapping some stuff they did in 2015, the boys met for their traditional run during the Newport Folk Festival in 2016 and creative juices began to flow. Easy to see how; as the set I caught was outstanding and a tremendous amount of fun for everybody involved.

2013’s Negativity were the nascent stages of John McCauley coming out of a funk. We’re now experiencing a McCauley who has a nice home life with a baby girl and is generally taking care of himself – running and cutting back on the booze and smokes. Much like Isbell, those developments have not deterred him from penning some quality tracks.

And quality tracks you will get; in fact you’ll get 20 – split among two separate LPs (don’t call it a double album). Vol 1 is the acoustic and Vol 2 sees them plugging back in. After spending some time with both, I’d say the most enjoyable aspect has been playing Monday Morning Quarterback – wondering which tunes would have sounded better acoustic vs. electric (and vice versa).

The most endearing quality of Deer Tick has always been their heart-on-sleeve approach to their music. While they be married and more mature, that aesthetic is still on full display throughout. Vol 1 opener, Sea Of Clouds is a track about letting go built. McCauley’s rasp is surrounded by angelic harmonies and the tune, built around in a tasty acoustic lick, eventually builds into an orchestral finish.

Only Love is a sad track about the impending end of a relationship. And as you’ve come to expect, McCauley hits it out of the park but the rhythm section is the real star here. It doesn’t let the tune get too bogged down and it really works. Cocktail is a made for Vegas lounge track. Conversely, the closer Rejection deals with the often thankless task of helping someone with addition issues.

On Vol. 2, McCauley mines the addiction subject again with Jumpstarting, arguably the best track of the twenty. I get goose bumps just imagining how this will play out live (yes, I am that lame). The boys revisit the Deervana days with the Nirvana inspired It’s a Whale and Sloppy.

On the back-half on Vol. 2, McCauley takes a humorous look at being a band at the summer festivals with S.M.F. This is sure to be another winner live. That leads into the touching instrumental, Pulse – a tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando shooting. The closer, Mr. Nothing Gets Worse, sung by Ian O’Neil feels like it was lifted off one of the Diamond Rugs albums; boozy sax and all.

Not many bands could have pulled this off. But Deer Tick certainly did. Throughout the 20 songs, you get the full gamut of Deer Tick in a way that reflects their current station in life. Good for them. They are and always will be one of my favorites.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Deer Tick is here

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