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Alternative & Indie - Released February 1, 2019 | PTKF

In 2017, roughnecked road rockers Deer Tick broke a four-year silence with the simultaneous release of two self-titled albums, one of acoustic alt-country and one of sloppy, full-energy rockers. Those paying attention might have noted the cover art for both was a variation of the same oil painting depicting bottles of ketchup and mustard, slyly signifying the distinctive flavors of each set of songs. It's not a stretch then that a companion album made up of outtakes, alternate versions and other miscellanea recorded at or inspired by those sessions would be titled Mayonnaise. Where the two self-titled volumes nicely illustrated both songwriter John McCauley's range and the band's chops, this smattering of extras is a looser and less serious expansion. Along with alternate versions of tunes from the acoustic album ("End of the World," "Limp Right Back"), the piecemeal collection is padded with outtakes, covers of favorite live standards by the Pogues, George Harrison, and others, and a couple of brand-new songs. Where the two self-titled albums took focused turns showing off the band's introverted side and flexing their bar band chops, Mayonnaise is more all over the place, moving from Band-modeled roots rock like "Old Lady" to perky pop throwaway "Hey! Yeah!" to a saccharine coffee-shop reading of the Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes." The grab bag feel of the album comes to a head with the inclusion of faux jazz instrumental "Memphis Chair," signifying that Mayonnaise is far more a vault-clearing bonus round for fans only than anything close to a proper album. While Deer Tick enthusiasts will smile at alternate versions, fun covers, and the spare track or two of credibly considered new originals, the casual listener should begin anywhere else in the band's storied (and often great) catalog. ~ Fred Thomas
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International Pop - Released September 15, 2017 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 9, 2010 | Partisan Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 4, 2007 | Partisan Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 30, 2010 | Partisan Records

Alternative & Indie - Released March 16, 2018 | PTKF

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International Pop - Released September 15, 2017 | PTKF

The shortlist of pop musicians who've released two different albums on the same day is quite short; it gets even shorter when tallying how few have actually pulled it off -- arguably none. Deer Tick tries the same thing with Deer Tick, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. The first disc focuses on the band's more acoustic and rootsy side (with some warm psychedelic effects woven in for texture) while the latter boasts the ragged garage rock most often heard in their live performances. What unites them is that they were cut at Memphis' famed Ardent Studios, where both consistency and immediacy, experimentation and rough-hewn magic, are all part of its justified reputation as a revered locale. Of the pair, Vol. 1 is the most interesting lyrically, but it's uneven -- even boring at times -- musically, particularly in the last third. John McCauley wrote all but two songs. His topics range from the satisfactions of family life to actively chasing ghosts and falling into despair. Opener "Sea of Clouds," with its weave of acoustic guitars and Mellotron, churns and wanders through the ashes of a previous relationship seeking clues -- long after it matters -- as to why it ended. The use of both bolero and flamenco in "Card House" marks the disc's most original and adventurous moment. Deer Tick have neither rhythm down; they stumble and stagger through them, but McCauley's unrepentantly brazen lyric walks sturdily despite his nasally whine. Ian O'Neil's "Hope Is Big" is a Celtic-tinged, honky tonk waltz drenched in the irony and reasonable emulation of the world-weary yet humorous lyric style employed by Tom Waits in his early years. Hinge track "Only Love" weds electric piano to acoustic guitars in what would be a lament, save for the wisdom in its lyric: "It's only love, so don't be afraid/It will let you down, but not today/It won't let you down until tomorrow...." "Cocktail"'s melody comes right out of the Doug Sahm songbook (though the jazzy country piano could have been played by Charlie Rich); McCauley's look back at his boorish boozing behavior while pining over lost love at the same time makes for one of the set's funniest tracks (intentionally or not). Not everything works, however. While the loopy roots rock of Dennis Ryan's "Me and My Man" (which juxtaposes Warren Zevon's bizarre darkness with Lou Reed's aberrant use of New York-style doo wop choruses and a Ventures-esque guitar break) would have made an excellent closer, but the album doesn't end there and, unfortunately, becomes morose. From "End of the World" on out, the record runs on an increasing mope factor: Melodies are almost absent and skeletal, and uninteresting arrangements pale in comparison to the earlier songs. (One can't help but wonder whether a different sequence might have avoided this.) While Vol. 1 feels like a companion to Negativity, its best moments utilize healthy irony rather than mere self-confession and elevates it -- in spite of its missteps -- as a result. ~ Thom Jurek
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 1, 2009 | Partisan Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 24, 2011 | Partisan Records

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Rock - Released September 15, 2017 | PTKF

The simply titled Vol. 2 is the second of Deer Tick's two simultaneously released albums cut at Memphis' Ardent Studios. Whereas the first volume centered on more acoustically driven fare and provided listeners with John McCauley's introspective songwriting amid (mostly) imaginative arrangements, this set represents the louder, prouder, more ragged garage rock side of Deer Tick's persona, the one most fans hear when they tour. The songwriting is a little more democratic on Vol. 2, though McCauley still writes the lion's share. It kicks off in a rockist 4/4 with "Don't Hurt," whose combination of hook, distorted guitars, off-kilter lead break, and a seemingly Paul Westerberg-inspired lyric stands out as one of the disc's best. By turns, the hook in "Jumpstarting" could have come straight from the Replacements fakebook -- meaning it's right in line with the best of what Deer Tick have always offered. Unlike literally hundreds of other bands who've tried the same thing, these guys from Rhode Island not only get it, but can do something of their own with it. The early Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers-esque rolling rock stroll in "Look How Clean I Am" is a paean to sweating out ingested toxins with ironic but unrelenting grit, while the less-than-three-minute "The Whale" is ragged punk rock goodness. "Tiny Fortunes" (detailing another drug abuser) is a galloping rocker with cascading Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano and punchy Southern rock guitars. "S.M.F." (Shitty Music Festival) is hilarious. The band's snark about the sometimes contentious relationships between musicians and fans -- particularly when both are inebriated -- is brutally honest and underscored by the naked aggression that pours out of the music. While the melancholy instrumental "Pulse" is an outlier with its wafting blue-jazz saxophone, acoustic piano, and loungey shuffle, it introduces the punked-up boogie of "Mr. Nothing Gets Worse," a swaggering, snarling number that should make its subject feel a hell of a lot better, and rattles the rafters for the rest of us. Unlike Vol. 1, which ran out of steam during its last third, Vol. 2 keeps its momentum from beginning to end, clattering and shambling through its 33 minutes without a false step. While both records ultimately make for an interesting project, if you have to choose, pick the latter -- you'll listen to it far more often. ~ Thom Jurek

Rock - Released June 6, 2017 | PTKF

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Rock - Released July 10, 2017 | PTKF

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International Pop - Released June 6, 2017 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 7, 2012 | Partisan Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 24, 2013 | Partisan Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 23, 2009 | Partisan Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 24, 2013 | Partisan Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 19, 2014 | Partisan Records

Alternative & Indie - Released July 30, 2013 | Partisan Records

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