[sic] Magazine

Deer Tick – Divine Providence

There comes a time with many bands when they stand on the cusp of greatness just about to move from ‘bit part player’ to ‘main actor’ and what do they do? The answer is that they completely and irretrievably blow it.

In 2010. John J. McCauley III and his bunch of Rhode Island musicians Deer Tick released the Black Dirt Sessions . It was far from perfect but it suggested a direction of travel, which could have ended in a journey towards them becoming one of the great American bands. True, it was uneven and you worried that McCauley’s throaty vocals, a sort of borderline death-yowl, would lead to the most devastating case of laryngitis in medical history. Nevertheless, with songs like ‘20 Miles’ and ‘Piece By Piece, Frame By Frame’ they had some classic tracks to match.

Alas, Divine Providence finds them falling into the trap of believing their own myths and, worse, of all needing to prove that they are a bunch of full blown rebels (‘The Bump’), can drink copious amounts of alcohol (‘Lets All Go To The Bar’) and do Chuck Berry impressions (‘Something To Brag About’).

Bizarrely, the listener is somehow supposed to be impressed by this and announcements that “I’ve got a lust for life and a dangerous mind” or “though I have walked down a crooked path, that don’t mean it wasn’t cursed” . There are so many rock clichés per square inch on Divine Providence that it outpaces Spinal Tap . The trouble is that Deer Tick sadly believe in this rubbish and their sense of irony is non existent. Anyone that manages to endure ‘Clowning Around’ can only hope that a band which pronounces, ‘the devil is living in my basement’ will one day have to atone to the evil fallen angel who will have a particularly hot place in hell to dispose of this bunkum.

At worse, Deer Tick sound like a very poor Stooges parody. You can only imagine that the thinking behind this album was to place them into the orbit of raucousness currently occupied by the brilliant Titus Andronicus . Sadly, it’s not so much that they are not in the same league as on a completely different planet. Equally, throw-away pop songs like ‘Walkin Out The Door’ or ‘Miss K’ (containing the immortally bad lines “Come on Miss K/ wrap your drunken arms around me/talk dirty and let’s get going” ) have all been done a million times before, although some teen producer on The OC may find them mildly amusing in a background soundtrack.

This is rock music for truly irritating Frat boys who are neither as wonderful, rebellious or downright rock ‘n’ roll as they like to think they are. Somebody in the record company Partisan should have called halt to this and locked away the keys to the booze cabinet. At one point in this sorry debacle McCauley announces that “We are four grown men and we act like kids” . On the evidence of this fetid stinker they need to grow up.