New Deer Tick Record Drops

Rhode Island rockers Deer Tick - don't call 'em "alt-country," if you want to stay in their good graces - are releasing their fourth album in five years. And the record, "Divine Providence," is the first to be recorded in their home state.

The first single, "Miss K," can be downloaded for free here, if you're willing to share your email address.

The boys promise a heavier, more rock n' roll sound on this record. "After so many years of critics praising (and making fun of) us for our 'folk' and 'country' sounds, and hardly ever mentioning the fact that we've also recorded virtually dozens of other kinds of music, we wanted to make a record that was truer to our live set: raw, loud, heartfelt, and completely uninterested in whatever the hell the rest of the music industry is up to," says frontman John McCauley, whose dad serves in the General Assembly. "The results are unlike anything you've heard on a Deer Tick album."

These guys are good. And fun. Here's a bit from a profile I wrote on the band a couple of years ago:

But if Deer Tick is a band on the brink, the trappings of success still seem something distant.

The foursome is touring in a small, hollowed-out school bus with makeshift sleeping quarters. The band doesn't have health insurance. And headquarters for Rhode Island's Next Big Thing is a crappy, half-empty rental just off Broadway.

The minimalist digs owe something to McCauley's recent arrival: the raspy voiced, pack-a-day songwriter has only just returned to his native Providence after living, for a few months, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. And he's got some unpacking to do.

But the bachelor-pad arrangements speak, more broadly, to the band's youth. McCauley and housemate Christopher Dale Ryan, who plays bass, are both 23. Guitarist Andrew Grant Tobiassen and drummer Dennis Michael Ryan, Chris's half-brother, are 20. And they act like it.

They drink. Fret over girlfriends' pregnancy scares. And they're more than a little goofy: it's hard to shake the feeling, at a Deer Tick show, that you're watching a giddy high school act playing its biggest venue to date.

And that's what makes the band's music so startling.

Deer Tick's work, if occasionally derivative and oft-marked by youthful obsessions with drink and romantic misery, is remarkable for its fullness and swagger: McCauley's voice is strong and immediate, his lyrics clever and even poetic.

The songs on debut album War Elephant and Flag Day have the scratchy depth of an artist who has lived longer and harder than anyone in Deer Tick.

And the mustachioed, tattooed McCauley pulls it off — most of the time, anyway — with a heavy dose of charisma, a touch of mystery, and a disarming penchant for confident self-mockery.

Standing before a crowd of some 2000 at Boston's House of Blues last week, as the band opened for Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, McCauley declared that Flag Day is "one of the best records ever made.

"Right up there," he said, "with Shaq Diesel by Shaquille O'Neal."

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