Deer Tick: “Funny Word”
This week on New Music Monday we take a look at Deer Tick, the band whose name has “bite” but whose music does not (bite, that is). Their latest album, Divine Providence, released in October 2011, features an array of rockers and insightful, hung-over ballads, all of which call to mind no less a touchstone than the Replacements — and they do the ‘Mats proud. Lead singer and songwriter John McCauley — who hails from Providence, Rhode Island, hence the album title — is sometimes a dead ringer for Paul Westerberg, and at other times brings to mind Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. When Deer Tick conjures up Wilco, as they do on “Chevy Express,” it’s A.M.-era Wilco, a la “Blue Eyed Soul.” I even hear a bit of Modest Mouse mixed in there at times.
Whatever you might hear, I can assure you it’s a good sound — Deer Tick strike a great balance on Divine Providence between rough ‘n’ ready rockers and slower numbers, in a way that really makes me happy that there are still bands like this around. Just when you thought that every band to come along in the past few years is more interested in striking a pose than playing rock with heart and just having a good time, along comes a band like Deer Tick (actually, this is their fourth album, dating back to 2007) to make you realize that down-and-dirty rock will never go out of style.
“Funny Word” is my favorite song on the album — possibly because it hearkens back so clearly to the glory days of the Replacements, but equally possibly because it simply rocks out with authority while musing over the oddities of this crazy little thing called love. (Hmmm, that might make a nice song title, come to think of it.) The song begins with a moment of studio talk featuring what some might indeed call a “funny” word but which I’ve taken the liberty of editing out to keep it work and kid friendly (you can hear the unedited version in the Reselect.com playlist). The song kicks it out from beginning to end, no breaks. If nothing else, Deer Tick brings raw, rootsy, punk-influenced rock together with good-natured lyrics with a restless soul — whether the songs are about love or getting drunk (“Let’s All Go to the Bar”) — in a way that few other bands have done as well since the ’80s.