Today’s experiment should you choose to accept it gives us a country-rock hybrid fed through the mind and mouth of a Rhode Island native. Today’s record is a 2009 release, the band’s 2nd . and once again those of you with short attention spans will enjoy this album’s brief 40min run time.
Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Deer+Tick+Born+On+Flag+Day/75962399
Read about the band here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deer_Tick_%28band%29
Fun Facts: McCauley explained that inspiration for the name Deer Tick came while he and Brendon Massei, also known as Viking Moses, were hiking in the Morgan–Monroe State Forest near Bloomington, IN. McCauley found a deer tick on his scalp later that evening, which caught the singer off guard. McCauley stated that he had never come in contact with a tick, even though as a child he frequently went camping and fishing. He was thus inspired to name his band after the parasite, stating that it sounded cool. McCauley also stated that he was unaware of the bands Deerhoof and Deerhunter until after he had named his band, but apologized for the similarities.
Deer Tick – Born On Flag Day
Preconceptions: I like most of the alt-country stuff I have heard. I am hoping for American roots music with a punk edge
After Listening: Sounds like Ryan Adams and Billy Corgan had a boring baby.
Favs: Straight Into A Storm, Easy, Friday XII.
Least: Little White Lies, Song About a Man.
Overall: As the son of a New England farm boy, I really wanted this Providence country band to kick ass. I liked the opening distortion skree and wish I’d seen it pop up more in this album. Instead, I got a 90ish whining vocals over only occasionally interesting instrumentals. Missed opportunities abound on this disc, and with a little more whiskey and heartache a song like Friday XII could have been more than slacker Johnny & June.
Prelisten Guess: 3.0
Extra Credit: Providence ’s Amazing (Royal) Crowns and Sasquatch & the Sick-a-billies
Deer Tick- Born on Flag Day – You either like the singer’s voice, or you dont. Kind of like The Hold Steady. I like the singer’s voice. Its not the best album ever, but i’d buy a used copy. 3.6
Preconceived Notions: After a quick bit of research I actually had this album as one of my top 10 most anticipated RC listens. I was intrigued by the acclaim for this country-alt rock hybrid – maybe it’ll be like a heavy Holly go Lightly that would be sweet…or a redneck approach as this season’s Clutch?
After Listening: Oh…it’s an indie alt-rock country hybrid. Less good. RC season 3 is quickly becoming the season of subpar vocals. I suppose in this case it’s on purpose…or at least it sounds more appropriate in this context to be missing notes in just about every phrase, and to have a certain whiny cheese grating tone. It blends perfectly with the sh*tty recording and bad mix that seem to be the badges of honor for every “indie” band recording after 2005. It takes about 3 songs before anything in the musical mix is distinctive and engaging…and that’s because it has about 2 instruments in it, and the melody is ripped off of about 100 similar sounding songs (Song About a man = Blowin in the Wind?) so of course you can make it clear with so little going on. Aside from the irritating singer and the terrible mix- I wish I could say the music was a redeeming aspect….I wish I could say they pull elements from country western and blues rock roots together with a touch of hard rock attitude in a unique concoction. But about the best I can really say, is that in the rare moments where the audio mix isn’t a complete clusterf*ck….there are some catchy parts that sound familiar enough to your ears to tap your foot for a few measures. This is not a great compromise. None of the faster, or more “rock” songs on the album are worth anything- lost in a bright over distorted soundscape, where I’m sure they sat in the studio and just pushed all the faders all the way up on every single high frequency channel.
Favorite Tracks: Houston, TX – I guess this song probably sounds so good to me because of the previous 4 tracks, only one had any distinguishing feel and that one-as previously mentioned was Song About a Man – done by Bob Dylan and 600 other acts. But also, the guitar work on here is nice and open- turning country style phrases smoothly and crooning about as good as one can expect over top – an emotional element finally out of a cacophony of an album.
Hell on Earth – It isn’t a great track, but it’s the only track on the album to even come close to getting the distorted guitar/country mix correctly. It may be way too simple and derivative to get really excited about – but man if more of the album had been like this, we’d all have been much better off.
Least Favorite: Easy – The beginning of the song set the mood fairly generically with feedback and a western theme lifted from any number of places…and yet still it seemed to cackle a bit with energy. Somehow it faded into a halfspeed, over distorted high end mess, with terrible whiny vocals and no direction. This pattern was then repeated on at least half of the album’s songs….which happen to be the rest of my least favorite tracks. Honestly, I enjoyed this thing the closer it went to generic country, anytime they turned up the rock…they turned up the suck.
Overall 1.98 Man, I wanted to like this, I really did. But they gave me so little to work with-and when they did it was almost like they stumbled on it by complete accident. The only times I connected at all with the record was in its slower and country dominated moments…and it seems like Deer Tick wasn’t content to stick with that style. Also, what is their style? As close as I could come was that it sounded at times like a garage act recording of old country western songs –without any of the emotion. This is thing is a mess, in a more perfect scenario it would be a hybrid mess with a lot of moving influences and energy…but as it stands I don’t think they’re capable of inserting themselves (who they actually are as artists) into the music without making it an indecipherable composite of poorly recorded and executed ideas.