A Magical Journey Through the Looking Glass.
Last year’s interesting Double, or was it two seperate albums from Rhode Island’s finest; Deer Tick opened a door, not just for me but Deer Tick themselves it appears.
For a variety of reasons that aren’t particularly clear, they have rearranged a few songs from those two albums so that they are now virtually unrecognisable from the originals, added some brand new musings and cobbled them together with some really fascinating cover versions for this latest release.
Not knowing what to expect; but liking a lot of last years releases I pressed play on my I-Phone and what came out of the car stereo was initially a Bluesy ramble, that soon became a sensory onslaught that soon had me turning the dial to the left!
Bluesboy (or Spirals as the Press Release calls it) is the sort of Pearl Jam/Nirvana quiet/loud/loud/quiet/loud song that Son #1 would play far too loud in his bedroom 20 years ago; then it’s immediatly followed by a winsome slice Rock-Folkery with both a melody and a chorus called Limp Right Back, which leads us into a journey through the looking glass of what makes Deer Tick tick.
While that first song gives the impression that Deer Tick are shoe gazing Rockers; but at heart I think they are really post-Hippy Folkies brought up on a diet of Gram era Country music; as that’s the real direction they take us in.
These guys are good; really good and have a ballistic range when it comes to writing songs; Old Lady and Hey Yeah! are polar opposites with the latter being quite poppy by comparison, but both are commercial enough for what used to be called Student Radio.
We also get a bit of Country-Rock on the final two songs, the alternate version of Doomed From the Start conjures up images the Nevada Desert at twilight and album closer Cocktail, featuring the sublime pedal-steel of Spencer Collum Jr. is such a heady mix it could be The Burritos covering a Jimmy Buffet song at midnight in Vegas hotel lounge, as your lady friend has just disappeared with the young bartender.
I think it’s fair to say that Deer Tick’s choice of songs to cover is eclectic; but when you hear them pay homage to the Pogues on White City, turn the Velvet’s Pale Blue Eyes into a pseudo-Native American hymnal while also unearthing a George Harrison soft-rocker called Run of the Mill you understand how their distinctive sound (in all its glory) has evolved.
This hasn’t been a particularly ‘easy listen’ for me; but the sum of the piece is better than the constituent parts in many ways, although two songs especially stand out.
The first is one of their new songs, the wordy Strange, Awful Feeling and the other is a cover of a song from Ben Vaughn whom I’d not heard of before hearing Deer Tick turn Too Sensitive For This World into a spine-tingling Lo-Fi/ Alt. Rock/Indie hybrid that has me yearning for a whole album in the vein of these two beauties.
Released February 1st 2019