Album Review: Deer Tick – Divine Providence

By on Monday, 24th October 2011 at 12:00 pm

Words by Ellie Molitor

So rarely does a band encapsulate the essence of their sound within the first minute of a release. But Deer Tick lead singer John McCauley snarls a perfectly concise description of the Providence quintet during opening track ‘The Bump’, informing the audience right off the bat that “we’re full grown men, but we act like kids”. Though many have struggled to put these boys in a box, calling the band anything from American indie to country rock, McCauley seems to have hit the nail on the head. They are children who broke into their parent’s liquor cabinets and stumbled upon a wonderful blend of spirited anthems and drunken requiems.

The album dives straight into three of such anthems, tapping into the same kind of energy Deer Tick often brings to their live show. Rowdy, undisciplined and unabashed, these tunes sound like they were recorded at their favourite watering hole, halfway through a bender and just before a bar fight. This is not to say their efforts are to be discounted: McCauley’s voice, often noted as the driving point behind Deer Tick’s success, is never off point, and he shows off an impressive range in tone and projection.


Though Deer Tick started as lead singer John McCauley’s whiskey-soaked bedroom project, it has grown into a rounded out group effort. This is the first album with vocal contributions from other members, and their efforts are not in vain. Guitarist Ian O’Neil gets his chance to shine, taking over lead vocals on ‘Walkin Out the Door’. ‘Clownin Around’ features drummer Dennis Ryan, and the song exploits Deer Tick’s country undertones without compromising the rock ‘n’ roll feel of the album, serving as a nice break from the rest of the album’s bacchanalia.

Another highlight of the album comes two tracks later with the ghostly ballad ‘Chevy Express.’ A call back to Deer Tick’s origins, this track shows off McCauley’s talents as a story teller and songwriter, weaving haunting imagery with the subtle sounds of a ghost town. Overall, it would be stupid to write this album off as a playlist of bar tunes. Sure, Deer Tick has a reputation for raucous live shows and drunken misbehavior, but there is depth here that should not be overlooked.


Deer Tick’s new album ‘Divine Providence’ is out today on Partisan Records.

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