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Deer Tick

Born On Flag Day

Rating: 3.0

Label: Partisan Records

As Deer Tick’s Born On Flag Day begins, almost immediately you get the sense that you’re about to hear something you didn’t expect. And you’d be right. Imagine Neil Young with the voice of a less whiny Billy Corgan, rub some gravel over it and throw in a Traveling Wilbury or two. Now let a blade of straw lazily hang from your mouth as you look over the grassy hills expanding in front of you, all while blasting it out of a Marshall stack. You now have the sound of Deer Tick.

Deer Tick’s John McCauley is a throwback to Richie Valens, to whom he is often compared. The overall feel of Deer Tick, however, is not as obvious. It took five or six spins of Born On Flag Day for me to get a proper read on it. Deer Tick could easily be labeled alt-country, but that’s not entirely accurate; rockabilly/hippie-surf punk might describe the band’s sound better. One thing is for sure, however: Deer Tick is not a radio-hit factory, which is a good thing. From the get go, Deer Tick bring the country grunge and never really relinquish it. Opening song “Easy is a slow-starting train ride that quickly builds up to full-blown tonnage moving down the track. “Smith Hill” and “Song About A Man” are two well-written ballads that fit nicely amongst some of the album’s rougher tracks. “Straight Into A Storm” plays like an homage to Creedence Clearwater Revival with a little Buddy Holly thrown in for good measure.

Lyrically, this album can stand on its own. Musically, Deer Tick has progressed from debut album War Elephant. There are as many rough edges as there are polished moments, and it’s with that in mind that this album succeeds. Deer Tick will most likely be one of the bands that will manage to stay true to its overall form, only to improve upon it with each release. The album clocks in at around 40 minutes long, including one hidden track, but its overall pace keeps it from dragging or sounding overly long. Born On Flag Day does achieve a sense of transition, and though Deer Tick seem like they haven’t quite reached the destination just yet, they are getting closer.

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