Deer Tick well and truly slipped under the radar last year.
Ok, so these hirsute boys from Rhode Island are unlikely to revolutionise the face of music anytime soon, but their third album The Black Dirt Sessions was far worthier of a place on the ‘Best of 2010’ lists than most.
Led by charismatic frontman and chief songwriter John McCauley, Deer Tick make haunting alt-country Americana that should be required listening for anyone let down by life or love. McCauley has clearly had more than his fair share of hard knocks. He sings of death, religion and grief with a gravelly, nasal voice that cracks with effort and emotion, most noticeably on single ‘Christ Jesus’. The song might make singing teachers and Christians wince but for anyone else it has a way of getting under your skin and yanking at your heartstrings.
On first hearing, the band’s influences—Neil Young, Bob Dylan and The Replacements—are obvious. But whereas the godfathers of country and folk talked of change, hope and revolution, Deer Tick sing of losing faith, friends and heart. The beauty is that somehow they manage to do so in a way that is infectious and beguiling rather than depressing. And that’s the thing about them. Unlike other American artists with the alt-country tag like Lambchop, Two Gallants or Calexico, Deer Tick have songs. Ok, so they might not be blasting out of the speakers in Ibiza anytime soon but then neither are those by The National or Fleet Foxes and it clearly hasn’t done them any harm.
January is a fine time to go and see Deer Tick live. Now the Christmas wrapping paper is in the bin and there’s just a long, hard slog until Easter, their well-crafted melancholia is just the ticket. What’s more, in a recent interview, the band said that they much preferred playing small venues to big outdoor festivals so tiny Sidecar in Plaça Reial is sure to suit them. Wrap up warm against the cold and revel in the intensity of it all.
Deer Tick - January 31st - Sidecar