Music Review – Deer Tick: Born on Flag Day (Partisan Records)

The sophomore release from Providence, RI.’s John Joseph McCauley III has him filling out his sound with a full band that he employs to help him mine his inner Joe Ely and Tom Petty this sonic recesses where twangy barroom serenades are mashed up with 50’s and 60’s era pop rave-ups.

Easy starts things off with a tribal drum rocker that hearkens back to early REM. Little White Lies begins as a pedal steel tear in a beer weeper that later spikes into staccato-beat border town rollick. Smith Hill is an orchestra-backed  drinking song about heartbreak that has  McCauley howling like a wounded coyote. Song About A Man shows  McCauley at his Dylan-esqe best and Houston, TX. Is a nice shuffling road song that reflects well on its namesake.

McCauley joins the ranks of young men with old voices (Ryan Bingham, William Elliot Whitemore) and his dark gravel narratives of drunken desperation are offset by an expansive banquet of styles that keep things less bleak and more forceful and sunny. Even a graveyard is beautiful landscaping and flowers on the surface, and beyond the topiary of  arrangements on Born on Flag Day there are plenty of skeletons to be found.

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