Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stereo Court Case: Deer Tick

Charge: I'm listening to Deer Tick right now, a lot.

Argument: The common complaint about Deer Tick is their lack of adventurousness, that they don't break from a lock-step adherence to traditional folk, country and rock 'n' roll sounds and structure. Each track is one or the other, with little blending, and that the band hasn't put its own footprint on the well-worn paths. I'd argue that right now, that is one of their strongest attributes. Just as the Black Keys' unironic take on garage blues earned them their own room in the mostly-empty indie house of earnestness, Deer Tick, for the time being, can crank out a rockabilly track, followed by a Rolling Stones homage and not offend any listeners like myself looking for an unwinking throwback every now and again. And, lets not forget the superb lyrics and dude's industrial-grade blender voice. Like Dylan bled through a broken speaker, lead singer/principle songwriter John McCauley's throat adds a whole new texture to the slide guitars, country shuffles and occasional rock 'n' roller. If your looking for a reason to listen to Deer Tick, his voice should be enough, and it should also be different enough to separate the band from its obvious influences.

Decision: The band has two tradition-minded albums under it's belt. Why rush the maturation and "expanding their sound" album? As long as the songs are good, what's wrong with playing the music most of us love to listen to? The upbeat chord change midway through "Born on Flag Day's" opening track "Easy" should be enough to validate the whole enterprise. We don't need any more synths or computer blips in the background of alt.country songs. I think Wilco has it covered.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy the knock on Wilco. However, both Deer Tick and Wilco have yet to release a song to get to buy one of their albums.

Is there one you would suggest?

Warped Coasters said...

I don't know exactly where you come from music-wise. To be clear, even with my offhand comment in this post, Wilco is still one of my all time favorite bands.

Favorite Wilco tracks:

War on War
Jesus, Etc
Via Chicago
Shot in the Arm
At Least that's What You said
Poor Places
Handshake Drugs
Company in My back
She's a Jar
I'm the Man that Loves You
Pot Kettle Black
Sunken Treasure
Far far Away
Forget the Flowers
Summer Teath

If none of the first four or five on this list move you, Wilco must just not be for you.

My favorite tracks on Deer Tick's new CD are:

Smith Hill
Houston, TX
Straight into a Storm
Friday Xiii

The Juice Box said...

Never listened to Deer Tick. Do you think I would like them?

And I love "Company in My Back." I used to listen to that song on repeat, for some reason.

The Juice Box said...

Also, I'm listening to the new Wilco right now and really enjoying "One Wing." I haven't really gotten through much of the rest of it yet, though.

Anonymous said...

No worries about Wilco. They kind of fall into the category of ACDC, Van Halen, Guns N' Roses, etc., for me, in that they are extremely talented, just have yet to appeal to me.

There was a chuckle with your knock due to some other recent readings of Wilco reviews, which reminded me of my friends disappointment with Ghost Is Born.

Time and money, that's all I need...

Warped Coasters said...

"One Wing" is great.

"Bull Black Nova" is the best song on the album.

"Wilco (the Song)" is good but the joke becomes tired.

"You Never Know" sounds great, but the lyrics bother me.

Other than that, the new Wilco is really boring. I initially liked it because I was so excited it was a new Wilco album. Leading up to the release day I re-wore out my copies of their other six albums, which all sound as good today as they did when they came out (except Sky Blue Sky, which I've never been a big fan of.)

Warped Coasters said...

AC/DC, Guns and Roses and Van Halen are talented, but easily disposable fun entertainment. The most subtext anyone ever garnered from an AC/DC song is that "shook me all night long", meant "fucked me all night long."
That's not to say I don't love the riffs. But there's not a lot of depth there to appeal to. You either like crunchy rock riffs and double entendre or you don't.

Wilco has found ways to connect with me (and hundreds of thousands of others) on several different levels, and it's a statement to Tweedy's talent that I was able to connect to his music — in varying degrees of complexity and for varying reasons — from when I was a bratty 16-year-old through to today. Not to mention they made one of the landmark albums of the decade in 2001.

In other words, it's easy to care less about AC/DC. It takes a little more energy to disregard Wilco.

Anonymous said...

I will agree with you on all counts. And I wouldn't say that I "disregard" Wilco, I just don't pursue any of their albums, the songs I hear in passing are sufficient.

A couple of other things...

Shaking = What? I play that song at weddings! I'm awful, it's like one of the first songs I play...

And so you're working on your Top 21 albums of the 21st Century?

DYK this post was actually about Deer Tick? Funny how it has strayed...