I was beginning to think Deer Tick had been a rock ‘n’ roll mirage. After falling in love with their debut and seeing two blazing concerts, I thought they were more than just a good alt-country band, but while their second release was solid, the two follow-ups had largely been let-downs.
However, their new album, “Divine Providence,” available Tuesday, affirms that Deer Tick is the real deal and will be around as long as they want to be. While the punkier sounding album doesn’t quite equal the lyrical imagery and spontaneity of the band’s first release, “War Elephant,” it’s likely their second best album – and that’s good enough.
What’s also refreshing is the band is more comfortable now featuring other members besides frontman and group founder John McCauley handle vocals, and drummer Dennis Ryan excels singing the creepy "Clowin' Around, while uitarist Ian O'Neil shines on “Now It’s Your Turn,” even if the piano riff is awfully reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ “Memory Motel.”
And speaking of the Stones, another strong track is the lyrical doffing of the cap to the Rolling Stones courtesy of “Main Street,” which drops a few famous Stones song and album titles for its chorus, it’s a clever ploy and makes for one of the best songs on “Providence.”
Fortunately, McCauley is still at the middle of the DT circus in all his red-eyed romantic glory on “Miss K,” the Chuck Berry-by-way-of-The-Ramones-raveup of “Something To Brag About,” and even channels folkie icon John Prine on "Chevy Express."
One plus about the album is it makes a great intro to the band for newcomers, the band’s booze-fueled excitement is on display in “Let’s All Go To the Bar,” and its spastic lonely-guy imagery is retooled inside “Make Believe.” In the end, it's all pure Deer Tick and it seems these guys are here to stay.
And to those of us who were caught up in their sound from the start, that's a relief.