In 2008 Deer Tick released an incredibly unrefined, unadulterated, decisive album that would set a change in motion, most would never even realize was happening. The release of War Elephant introduced the world to John McCauley. The raspy, dark voice lent itself to the heart behind theRhode Island band who would go on to subsequently release Born on Flag Day, and The Black Dirt Sessions. Up through the third release there was a cloud of honesty that loomed about each track. It was a dark, surreal open hearted style of writing that simply couldn’t be compared completely to anything else. Taking all of their collective uniqueness, Deer Tick headed out on the road. Over time additional members took up a permanent, now more prevalent, status with the band and McCauley even took some time out to work on Middle Brother. Those fortunate enough to attend a live performance of “Deervana” got to see the ode-to-influence and were treated to a truly rocking experience.
There are certain albums that gain from a not-so-clean delivery. Historically, track by track has been a love-it-or-hate-it exposure of pure raunchy folk and rock. The latest installment, Divine Providence, is an abrupt turn from what we’ve come to know thus far. Deer Tick has established its sound on raw energy and experimentation; nothing about their sound has exuded constraint or “mainstream.” This latest album stretches their distinctive sound into a new, exciting area. No longer do we have the solemn vocals laid over a weighted instrumentation, albeit never depressing; now, we have upbeat, mixed vocals and sprawling instrumentals in a crisp clear format. Underneath the almost overproduced sound, Deer Tick lives on. I say “almost” simply because only these guys could make clean sound dirty and raw.
Having such stunning musical talents they have been able to span the likes of folk and southern rock to now venturing out into all sorts of, for them, new-to-album sounds. The stark contrast in album evolution can be found in the anthem driven “Let’s All Go To The Bar,” which holds itself up as an almost Ramones punk-like chant. “Something To Brag About” reaches deep down and lends itself to a more rockabilly-like distortion loaded song. Tracks like “Main Street” and “Now It’s Your Turn” fill the void for those looking for a more familiar Tick sound. Commanding, often strangely intimate lyrics have been the unvarying face of Deer Tick and Divine Providence is no different. Taking this into consideration, they have also pushed their limits on guitar, drum, and bass this go-round by diving into the empty spaces of tracks, giving them an almost live vibe.
McCauley and crew definitely stand alone in their sound, the truly unique style holds them apart from the cattle drive that can be modern music and they should never be underestimated. Despite the slight change-up and tightening their music into a different style of precision, Deer Tick maintains its hold on being one of the most important bands of our time. Having produced thought-provoking deep tracks and covered some of the darkest grunge, Divine Providence is a surprise look to the future of what might become of the Tick. Perhaps we can rekindle the more pure sound of prior albums by listening to this on vinyl; that should add that raw feel back to the album.