Rhode Island’s Deer Tick is an enigma of sorts. They stormed into my cluttered music world somewhere around 2007 with War Elephant, a country-ish, folk-ish, weird-ish record that was part left field howling, part Ryan Adams pre dry-out, complete with the coolest cover art I’d seen in quite a while. I loved it, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.
Their next release confirmed things for me. The crushingly strong Born On Flag Day was in my heavy rotation for months. The first time “Easy” splashed from my speakers like an overrun mug of draft Bud, I knew there was something of obvious substance to hang on to.
Then the boat rocked and I fell off. The Black Dirt Sessions felt scattered. There was still the trademark weirdo vibe, something front man John McCauley does better than most, but the country seemed toned down to make room for a slicker, almost polished take on Neil Young and Doors records from the past.
That oddball journey only makes their newest effort Divine Providence more fun to spin. It’s a nod to the live show Deer Tick fans are used to catching. It’s raucous, hilarious, drunken fun from a merry band of maniacs from Rhode Island. The record twists and shakes with the swagger of The Stones while managing to creep you out like something from the heyday of Iggy Pop.
Divine Providence is the sound of a band shape shifting for the sake of having a blast. They wanted to make a balls out rock record, so they did. “Funny Word” is one of those jams that will stick with you… can’t wait to hear it live.
Live at Jillian’s, Albany NY- December 10, 2011. If you’re here, be there.