[Review]: Deer Tick – Negativity

It’s hard to have a discussion regarding modern folk rock/country without mentioning the Providence, Rhode Island outfit Deer Tick. The bands one official member, John J. McCauley III, has been releasing rusty folk tunes for nearly a decade now and has won over audiences with his gravelly singing voice and melodic songwriting style. Now the band is preparing to release their fifth record entitled “Negativity” due out September 24th on Arts and Crafts.

Upon first listening to the record it becomes quite clear why it has been promoted as one of the groups most personal and emotional. With song titles such as The Dream’s In The Ditch and Trash it isn’t hard to get a grasp of the overall negative theme of the album.

Opening the album is the frustrated rock ballad The Rock. With a hauntingly eerie introduction that builds into the power of the rest of the song, the opening track sets the tone for the rest of the album and perfectly defines the album title itself. McCauley’s vocal aggression takes listeners by storm, drawing them in with lyrics such as “Come on fellow goner, the glory days have passed”. The incorporation of a sporadic horn section compliments the pain agitation in McCauley’s voice well, and makes this track one of the many highlights of the album.

In the albums third song Just Friends, McCauley’s anger and aggression turns into a sweet innocence brought on by romantic confusion. He softly hums, “When you stare from across the room/I can’t tell if you’re looking at me/or just looking through…are we really just friends?” With such melancholic words one can’t help but compare the delicate piano playing and gentle guitar strumming to the fragility of a young man’s feelings. This song is sure to leave listeners reminiscing about their earliest experiences of heartache and sorrow, and is not the only track on the album to do so.

Hey Doll is the tenth track on the album, and takes the themes from Just Friends to an all new, much more mature, state of romantic confusion and heartache. This absolutely heartbreaking piano ballad could soundtrack a montage of the events that occur after a bad breakup (staring at old photos, eating ice cream straight out of the bucket, throwing out all of his/her stuff, etc.). McCauley’s voice channels that of Leon Russell when he belts out “I get so down on myself/you talk like somebody else/and I’m too sad to turn the radio on”. An anthem for self-loathers, this track demonstrates McCauley’s talents as both a singer and a songwriter.

The rest of the album is tastefully rounded out by heavier, guitar-based rock jams such as Pot of Gold and The Curtain, while songs like Trash give listeners a much needed dose of the blues. Despite the genre of any song on the album the negative themes remain, as this is not an album to listen to in order to brighten your spirits.

“Negativity” is a complex album with complex themes; ones that highlight emotions experienced and understood by all. Its significant lyricism, and dark vibe couldn’t come at a more suitable time as the summer heat slowly disappears, and the winter blues fast approach.

For more information regarding the band and the album be sure to visit their webpage at

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