Deer Tick’s new tune, “The Rock”

deertick2013sm
photos by Anna Webber

Deer Tick world premiered their video for their new tune “The Rock” late last month, but it took me a while to get around to properly viewing/listening. I heard a handful of new tunes from their forthcoming album Negativity back in March when they played two full sets at the local McDowell Mountain Music Festival, and I’m excited for what’s in store, especially since it’s produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos (also a part of Diamond Rugs with DT’s John McCauley). Negativity releases September 24th on Partisan Records.

Here’s “The Rock”, another quality DT tune that starts out slow and introspective, but soon unleashes a rock-fueled barrage of guitars,keys, John’s raspy vocals and horns (thanks Steve Berlin!). Now, stare into John’s eyes for a few minutes…

My Recap of the 2013 McDowell Mountain Music Festival

headermmmf

This past Saturday and Sunday, I made my way to the latest installment of my favorite local festival, the 10th annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival, this year taking place for the first time at Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix.

To set the scene, the park sits on top of Interstate 10 just north of downtown proper (the aptly named Deck Park Tunnel runs right under it). It’s a nice expanse of green in the midst of the concrete jungle. On the outskirts of the park were a few vacant lots, a fair share of hard-on-their- luck street folks, but that’s standard for any big city in the old USA I guess. But the venue itself was great. Once again, the organizers did an amazing job of transforming a space into a three day getaway oasis – great food, plenty of facilities, vendors, the main stage, the local band stage, and a VIP section. Each year, walking into MMMF gives me that “ahhh” feeling as we gear up for another great live music experience.

Erika Wennerstrom of the Heartless Bastards
Erika Wennerstrom of the Heartless Bastards

I missed the opening Friday this year (sad about missing the Shins, but I’d seen Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros a few times before). Bu on Saturday, I grabbed the wife and two daughters and headed downtown mid-afternoon just in time for the Heartless Bastards. I’ve been checking them out over the past few months here and there, especially their new album, Arrow. Saturday’s 90 minute set cemented my admiration for the band, especially lead singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom. Her strong, lower register singing voice sounded great on tunes like “Only For You”, Junior Kimbrough’s “Done Got Old”, and especially “Parted Ways”, my favorite song of the band’s (right now). It was the perfect start to the day: quality roots/Americana sounds under sunny blue skies.

The weather for the festival? As the MMMF gang mentioned in their Facebook feed, it was chamber of commerce-style weather: high 70’s and sunny both days we were there. Although my family and I will admit to freezing our asses off Friday night. Wimps, I know (I grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but you wouldn’t know it after 20 years in the desert).

Deer Tick
Deer Tick

So next up at 5pm Saturday was Providence, RI’s Deer Tick. Disclaimer: I’m a HUGE fan of the band, so not only did I catch their festival set (also 90 minutes – a bonus for any festival), but I also walked over to the Crescent Ballroom for their late night gig, which kicked off around 11:30pm (I’m still a little weary, and it’s Wednesday).

Characterized by primary singer & songwriter John McCauley’s raspy, wickedly awesome voice, Deer Tick plays gritty, rootsy, countrified rock n’ roll. During Saturday’s sets, they drew heavily from all four of their studio albums and an EP, played five new songs (from a forthcoming album produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos – yes, I love it when my favorite bands come together) and sprinkled some great covers in. They played 45 songs over the two shows, with only four repeats between their afternoon and late night sets. I was definitely reminded of how great Born On Flag Day is (their second studio album) – “Easy”, “Little White Lies”, “Smith Hill”, and “Houston, TX” were all played, and had me rushing back to the album after the gigs.

Deer Tick's John McCauley and Dennis Ryan
Deer Tick’s John McCauley and Dennis Ryan

Guitarist Ian O’Neil also impresses me more and more each time I see Deer Tick play. His Divine Providence tunes – “Walkin Out The Door” and “Now It’s Your Turn” – are always great live. This time around, he sang an insane new rocker, “The Dream Is In The Ditch”, and a cover of a Michael Hurley song, “Be Kind To Me” (another new one for me). Ian gets wild, jumps around, has a killer voice for rock n’ roll, and complements McCauley perfectly up there.

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Deer Tick

Other covers of the night included “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” (the Pogues), “12 Bar Blues (NRBQ), “Sleepwalk” (Santo & Johnny, which is one of my all-time favorite instrumentals), “La Bamba” (Richie Valens), “Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran), and “Passing Through” (Leonard Cohen), which served as an ideal intro to Ian’s “Now It’s Your Turn.”

At the late night Crescent Ballroom gig, the band also brought up Vanessa Carlton to sing “In Our Time”, a great country-style duet between John and Vanessa.

I could go on and on about this band, so let me just wrap up this part by saying that Deer Tick really defined the weekend for me, similar to how they defined my Newport Folk Festival weekend a couple years back when I caught their late night gigs at the Newport Blues Café. I just love these guys [for the Set Lists of both shows, check out Setlist.fm for the day set and the late night set]…

Anyway, back to the festival grounds early Saturday evening. I had go check into the hotel after Deer Tick’s set, so I missed about half of SoCal reggae band Iration’s set. I caught the second half, which was pleasant enough I guess. Certainly, nothing stood out and made me want to find out what I was hearing. No knock on the band, they’ve got a cool thing going, but it just didn’t connect with me.

And then came Saturday’s headliner, The Roots. I’ll admit to not being overly familiar with their material. My most significant connection to the band is through Questlove, who shares my lifelong abnormal obsession over the music of Prince. I’m also not much of a hip-hop head post-early 90’s. But I did grow up with the old school of hip-hop, seeing Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Doug E. Fresh, LL Cool J and others back in their early heyday. So I was stoked to hear rapper Black Thought give a shout out to the Beastie Boys’ MCA when he hit the stage, and immediately launch into a high-energy version of “Paul Revere” (my favorite Beasties tune). Questlove took the mic for MCA’s parts, and it was just magic. My 6-year-old daughter was even in the crowd gettin down with me.

I didn’t catch the full set unfortunately, so I missed some highlights like “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and Led Zeppelin cover, but I did catch a good hour, and it was just cool seeing the MMMF crowd exposed to some quality musicianship by a top notch band that can do it all – from hip-hop to rock to soul…right across the musical spectrum.

Dr. Dog
Dr. Dog

On Sunday, I got there just in time for Philly band Dr. Dog’s 2:30 set – one of those bands I’ve been chompin’ at the bit to see. They delivered everything I wanted and more. There’s a whole lot going on in their music, so they’re a hard band to define. I’ll go with something like “psychedelic indie-folk.” The band’s two primary singers blew me away – Toby Leaman’s strong stage presence and Scott McMicken’s unique voice, which had me thinking of Bob Dylan and the Felice Brothers at times.

The band had their core guitars, bass, and drums, but a large part of their sound consisted of a synthesizer and what I think was a drum machine/DJ rig that added all sorts of wonderfully strange beats, bangs and sounds to tunes like “Lonesome”, How Long Must I Wait”, “Do The Trick”, “That Old Black Hole”, and “Heart It Races” (originally done by Architecture in Helsinki, an Australian band). I mean, this is what I love about music – how one band can lead you to another. Architecture in Helsinki?? Who knew? Not me. Great set (another 90 minutes!), and I can’t wait to see Dr. Dog again.

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Les Claypool & Bryan Kehoe – Duo De Twang

Next up was former Primus and Oysterhead bass-whiz and all around weirdo (and I mean that in a good way) Les Claypool and his Duo de Twang. The other member of the duo is Bryan Kehoe, a looong bearded, cowboy hat wearin’ good old boy from a Bay Area band called M.I.R.V. – and a solid picker on his dobro.

I absolutely loved this set, as Les and Bryan slapped and picked through tunes from the Primus catalog (“Wynonna’s Big Brown Beaver”, “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver”), and some interesting cover choices, including “Bridge Came Tumbling Down” by the recently departed Canadian legend Stompin’ Tom Connors, and Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans” – both crowd favorites, especially the latter, where Les somehow got the crowd to sing along to “We fired our guns and the British kept a’comin / There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago / We fired once more and they began to runnin’ on / Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”

Les and Bryan’s in between song stage banter was highly entertaining too, I could have listened to them all day. Count Duo de Twang as another act I’d see again in a heartbeat.

Yonder Mountain String Band
Yonder Mountain String Band

That brings us to my final set of the festival, Nederland, Colorado’s Yonder Mountain String Band. It had been some 13 years since I last saw them at the 2000 Telluride Bluegrass Festival. YMSB are a progressive bluegrass jamband, and have gathered legions of fans over their 15 year run. I’ll admit that my attention span was starting to wane into YMSB’s set, as the lack of rest and hot sun began to take its toll. I know. I can’t rally like I used to, folks. Not to mention my friends who love Sunday’s headliner, Umphrey’s McGee, are gonna slap me upside my virtual head for missing their set.

One thing is clear: the men and women behind the McDowell Mountain Music Festival should be recognized for putting on another high quality multi-day festival – no easy feat at all.

In my seven consecutive years of attending the festival, this was the third venue, and the first time in downtown Phoenix. Although we all miss the original venue, Scottsdale’s massive Westworld complex, this year felt sort of like a return to form after two scaled down years at now-defunct Compound Grill.

For one, they offered camping again (not sure how that worked out in the vacant lot adjacent to the venue – I’d be interested to know); they brought back the VIP section, with a large wooden platform looming over the side of the stage that allowed the VIP folks to watch the bands up close); there were tons of great food selections this year (we weren’t limited to the Compund Grill’s menu like the last few years). My go to spot was the Green Truck on the Go, where I opted for the Mother Trucker Vega Burger both days; and for a craft beer lover like me, I was excited to see Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery as the official beer sponsor of this year’s festival. Inversion IPA, Mirror Pond Pale Ale… I was a happy boy.

Best of all, every cent of the festival, as always, went to charity – this year, it was Ear Candy, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and UMOM New Day Centers.

It was also a good opportunity to spend some time in downtown Phoenix. For someone who lives in one of the suburbs (about 30 minutes out), my normal excursions into Phoenix consist of the occasional concert or sports event (Diamondbacks or Suns). Post show or game, the city has always seemed like a ghost town, lacking heart and soul. So, not only was it awesome of MMMF to bring their event into downtown Phoenix to infuse a little of that vitality and soul (and money) into the core of the city, but it was cool too as a local resident to grab a hotel room, jump on the light rail train, and explore a little. Other than the late night bum brawl on the train (there was blood), I saw another side of the city: people walking around at midnight, bars and restaurants jumping with business… People. Energy. Life. It was refreshing.

So hats off to another great McDowell Mountain Music Festival – my favorite festival in my home state of 20 years. Here’s to many more…

2013 McDowell Mountain Music Festival brings the Roots, the Shins, and lots more to Downtown Phoenix

2013 MMMF logoArizona’s own McDowell Mountain Music Festival marks its 10 year anniversary in just a couple of months (March 22-24) with a stellar lineup – arguably the strongest lineup in its decade long run.

I’ve made it very clear over the years that MMMF is hands-down my favorite music event in old AZ. I’ve attended every one of them since 2007, when I watched in awe as Aaron Neville and his brothers belted out “Tell It Like It Is.”

From its earlier years at Scottsdale’s spacious Westworld complex (2004-2009) to the intimate sod-laid parking lot outside of the (now defunct) Compound Grill in north Phoenix/Scottsdale (2010-2012), the all-for-charity festival has brought in the likes of Los Lobos, Gov’t Mule, the Flaming Lips, Matisyahu, Blues Traveler, Galactic, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – as well as a regular rotation of local artists like What Laura Says, Tramps & Thieves, and Endoplasmic.

2013 brings another new venue for MMMF – Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix (aka “Deck Park” because of it’s locale over the Interstate 10 tunnel). It’s clearly a shift for the festival, moving from the far outskirts of the Phoenix metro area to smack dab in the middle of an urban center. This won’t be welcome news to those that enjoyed camping out under the stars during its first several years at Westworld, and were hoping for a return there. But any hesitation to attend should be squashed with this year’s announced lineup…

The Shins
The Roots
Umphrey’s McGee
Les Claypool’s Due de Twang
Deer Tick
Heartless Bastards
Dr. Dog
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Yonder Mountain String Band
and more…

Me? I’m most excited to catch the Shins for the first time, to see the Roots a second time, and to see Rhode Island’s crazy bastards, Deer Tick, for a fifth time. The afterhours Deer Tick party on Saturday at the nearby Crescent Ballroom should be a wild time too.

I’m also really looking forward to Sunday’s closer, Umphrey’s McGee – a prog-rock/jamband that has been making big waves in the jam scene for years.

There’s a little something for everyone, isn’t there? Sunday’s lineup is a jamband fan’s wet dream. Saturday is gritty and soulful. Friday leans to the Indie side. All in all, a killer lineup if you ask me.

So tickets just went on sale January 1st. 3-day passes are going for $120.

See you there on Friday, March 22nd, yeah?

Here’s the full lineup…

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2013

5:00 LOCAL TBD
6:00 Balkan Beat Box
7:30 Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
9:30 The Shins

AFTERHOURS AT CRESCENT BALLROOM:
11:30  ORGONE

SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2013:

12:00 LOCAL
1:00 LOCAL
3:00 Heartless Bastards
5:00 Deer Tick
7:00  Iration
9:00   The Roots

AFTERHOURS AT CRESCENT BALLROOM:
11:30   Deer Tick

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013:

11:30 LOCAL
12:30 JGB BAND
2:00 Dr. Dog
4:00 Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang
6:00 Yonder Mountain String Band
8:00 Umphrey’s McGee

BUY TICKETS

Official Site for the McDowell Mountain Music Festival

 

Diamond Rugs

If that crazy bastard John McCauley is involved, count me in. John’s main gig is Deer Tick, but he’s also popped up in a couple of indie supergroups: Middle Brother (along with Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez and Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes) and, most recently, Diamond Rugs, featuring members of other bands like Los Lobos, Dead Confederate, and the Black Lips.

The bare bones, stripped down rock n’ folk vibe is prevalent in the record. John’s signature snarl shows up on songs like “Gimme a Beer,” “Call Girl Blues” (killer horn riffs by Lobos’ Steve Berlin and Deer Tick’s Robbie Crowell, presumably), and the killer holiday-themed ballad “Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant” (John’s good at those tear jerkers when he wants to be).

Another cool thing about this record is new exposure to some of the other guys. Ian Saint Pe of the Black Lips opens the album with a great one, the punked out, sneering “Hightail.” The tune pulled me right into this record…

“Blue Mountains” is one of Ian’s others songs that I really like. I like his laid back, sing/talk style.

And then there’s “Country Mile,” sung by Dead Confederate‘s Hardy Morris, which jumps between fuzzed out psychedelic rock and country blues. There’s all sorts of cool instrumental shit going on in this one – pedal steel, guitar and keyboard effects – particularly in the last minute or so of the song…

Add this to the list of albums that gets better with each listen. The contributions from all of these guys makes for a diverse experience that has you finding something new to like each time around.

Diamond Rugs will play The Late Show with David Letterman on June 25th. You can pick up the record on Amazon here… Diamond Rugs

Deer Tick roll through Phoenix [May 3rd Recap]

For the second time in seven months, Rhode Island band Deer Tick stopped into the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix to rock the joint with their good time fusion of bar room rock n’ roll, folk, country and punk.

The set list was largely similar to their last stop in October, featuring a bunch of tunes from their latest album Divine Providence. Once again, front man & “drunken devil” John McCauley showed why he’s one of the most raw and charismatic live performers out there. But he also shared the spotlight with his band mates – guitarist Ian O’Neil taking lead vocals on the fiery “Walkin Out the Door” and the electric piano-powered ballad “Now It’s Your Turn” (a tune whose intro reminds me of the Stones “Melody Motel”); and drummer Dennis Ryan sang “Clownin Around”, a tune he wrote about John Wayne Gacy.

The DP songs grow stronger live as they log more days and weeks on the road. “Main Street”, “Funny Word” and “Miss K” are as strong and explosive as ever.

Non-Divine Providence highlights for me were “Ashamed” (cool arrangement & a killer sax solo from Rob Crowell); “Easy” (my favorite tune from Born On Flag Day); “Not So Dense” (watching John scream “I watch 60 minutes go by hour after hour after hour!!“- priceless); but most of all, my favorite Deer Tick tune of ’em all – “Dirty Dishes” – which I’d never seen performed live in my previous three DT shows.

Unlike the album version, they do the song a Capella in five part harmony. It started off a little shaky, with O’Neil jumping ahead of the others during the first verse. But everyone laughed it off and they were right back on track. The harmonies capture the sad beauty of the song, and it was a hell of a treat to see it live. If only we could get the crowd to shut their mouths during the quiet songs like this. Some people sure like to go to shows and spend their time talking and talking (and talking and talking). But what are you gonna do…

Deer Tick delivered again – a fun, killer live band – one I’ll be obliged to go out & see whenever they roll through town.

→ And I have to mention the opening band, Nashville’s Turbo Fruits. I’d never heard of these guys before seeing them on the bill with Deer Tick. But Wowee & Holy Sheeet – pure adrenaline, hard-driving, Les Paul-thrashing, cymbal-crashing, flying scissor-kicking ROCK AND ROLL. If you’re going out to see Deer Tick, get there in time to see Turbo Fruits.

Here’s “Dirty Dishes” from last night, starting near the beginning of the first verse…

Pete’s Top Albums of 2011

2011 was another year of musical discovery for me. Clocking in highest on the discovery meter were San Francisco’s Girls; but right up there with Girls were two bands that can’t technically qualify for my best of 2011 album list: Delta Spirit and Titus Andronicus. Their latest albums – History from Below and The Monitor (respectively) – were both released in 2010, but I didn’t hear them until this year. Overall, when I think of 2011, these three groups reigned supreme in my corner of the world.

When it comes to 2011 live shows, it was also Titus Andronicus that blew my mind (back on April 18th at The Rhythm Room in Phoenix). All punk and passion, courtesy of front man Patrick Stickles. My jaw hit the floor.

But on to the albums. Looking back at my iTunes and Last.fm listening history, it was clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to muster up a Top Ten list. Sure, I could B.S. and include something like the Beasties’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two – which I enjoyed on some level, but never listened to straight through more than twice. Thinking about albums, ’tis all about honesty, and what’s truly important to me as a full body of work. So in that spirit, here are my Top 8 albums of 2011…

1. GirlsFather, Son, Holy Ghost ($5 on Amazon)

I had heard – and loved – “Laura,” a single off Girls first album a couple years back. But it wasn’t until this year that I fell completely head over heels for the San Francisco band led by Christopher Owens. The quirky “Honey Bunny” video drew me in – and when I tracked down the new album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, it was over – I was hooked. It’s rich with emotion, it rocks, it’s delicate… I can’t wait to follow Christopher around from here on out and hear what he has to say. Both Girls full lengths and the EP are excellent – discovering them has been the music highlight of my year.

Highlight: “Alex” – Hypnotic. Beautiful. Sublime.

2. Greg BrownFreak Flag ($4.99 on Amazon)

Here’s one that surprised me. Though I loved “The Poet Game” single many years back, no full album of Greg Brown’s had really come along that knocked my socks off. Freak Flag did just that. Full of beauty, wisdom and Greg’s wry sense of humor, it’s the folk masterpiece of 2011.

Highlight: “Where Are You Going When You’re Gone” (mp3) – All groove and growl. Toe tappin’ funky folk (there is such a thing).

3. Middle BrotherMiddle Brother ($5 on Amazon)

I love Delta Spirit. I love Deer Tick. I love Dawes. So it’s no surprise that Middle Brother was up among the tops this year, since the group is made up of the front men of all 3 groups. I had the pleasure of seeing Middle Brother live this summer at the Newport Folk Festival, which may very well have been their last performance… but something tells me Taylor Goldsmith, John McCauley and Matt Vasquez will be making more music together somewhere down the road.

Highlight: “Million Dollar Bill” – This is a Goldsmith-penned song that also shows up on Dawes’ new record, Nothing Is Wrong. On the MidBro version, the three guys each get a verse, and the result is profound, in my ever so humble opinion. I prefer it to the Nothing is Wrong version.

4. DawesNothing Is Wrong ($4.99 on Amazon)

It’s hard not to be endeared to this L.A. band that channels the SoCal /  Lauren Canyon 70’s vibe. Taylor Goldsmith is a brilliant lyricist, and they’re just getting started. That’s scary (in a very good way). And their live show? Forget about it. Passionate and fiery stuff…

Highlight: “Fire Away” – This tune features Jackson Browne on background vocals, Taylor’s brother Griffin taking lead vocals on the bridge, and the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench on the organ. Great sing along chorus – a tune that really takes off into the stratosphere by song’s end – especially live.

5. My Morning JacketCircuital ($4.99 on Amazon)

Jim James (er – Yim Yames) and the boys of MMJ always put me in a good place. Another solid studio album featuring tunes that ignite in a live setting. I must have watched MMJ on at least 3-4 festival webcasts this summer. Another mind-blowing live band that can also deliver in the studio. Confession though: I just don’t like “Holdin On To Black Metal.”

Highlight: “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” – I’m a sucker for some mellow MMJ. A great moment when the drums come in at “I-I-I-I’m going where there ain’t no fear…”

6. Deer TickDivine Providence ($5 on Amazon)

Snarly wild man John McCauley is back with another Deer Tick record. This time he shares the spotlight with drummer Dennis Ryan and guitarist Ian O’Neill, who write and sing on a few tunes. Divine Providence has a little bit of everything – honky-tonk rock, punk, pop. Oh, do I need to mention they’re also a killer live band? I saw them three times this year – twice in their home state of Rhode Island as they took over the Newport Blues Cafe during Folk Festival time.

Highlight: “The Bump” – The Deer Tick theme song. “We’re full grown men! But we act like kids!” The drunken devil strikes again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_tC4_zaqaQ

7. Lenny KravitzBlack & White in America ($10.49 on Amazon)

I was frankly surprised by Lenny’s latest. Rock, funk, soul, pop – yep, pretty much the Lenny Kravitz blueprint throughout his career. But the hooks and melodies caught on quick with me, and had me coming back for more helpings. The last time I enjoyed a Lenny album this much, I was 21 (1991’s Mama Said)!

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve heard it.

Highlight: “Liquid Jesus” – A sexy 70’s soul vibe as Lenny channels his inner Curtis Mayfield.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyyznmFosi4

8. Frank TurnerEngland Keep My Bones ($9.99 on Amazon)

I was looking forward to a full length album from the UK’s Frank Turner since stumbling across his set at the ACL Festival a couple years back. It was worth the wait. Frank’s working class, populist folk/punk is alive and well in England Keep My Bones.

Highlight: “If Ever I Stray” – Certain songs give me goosebumps and make my eyes well up with their sheer power. This is one of those songs.

Deer Tick’s New Video for “Main Street” [NSFW?]

If there’s one thing that’s true about Deer Tick frontman John McCauley, it’s “what you see is what you get.” The man is completely unfiltered and open, which is quite evident in Deer Tick’s brand new “uncensored” video for “Main Street,” their first single off Divine Providence. I see the term “uncensored,” and I’m immediately on booby alert. But ah, the joke’s on me, because what I found instead was the peein’ pecker of Mr. John. Amid a cacophony of exploding fireworks, a select few of the giant DEER TICK letters in the background fall away to reveal – eh – something else.

If there’s a point to the video other than explosions, urinating, and wrecking instruments, I’m not sure what it is. But the slow motion cinematography is impressive and pretty damn entertaining. There doesn’t always have to be a point, after all.

If you haven’t picked up Divine Providence yet, today’s a good day – you can pick it up for
$3.99 on Amazon.

Recap: Deer Tick at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix

The great thing about Deer Tick live is the no frills, no bullshit, “it’s only rock n’ roll” attitude. Lead singer/guitarist John McCauley is the embodiment of it all. He’s clearly in it for the music, and doesn’t much care about self-image or putting on those rock band front man airs. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have a good time and doesn’t embrace some of the – um – rock star lifestyle.

Shuffling on stage last night with three bottles of Coors and the red plastic cup that was never too far from his grasp, John and the band rocked the face off the Crescent Ballroom last night – growling, spitting, and, yes, snot-rocketing his way through a 90 minute, 19-song set full of new tunes from their brand new album Divine Providence, along with some older tunes spanning their first three albums (most from their debut, War Elephant) and a couple of well-placed covers.

They opened with the great Divine Providence album opener, “The Bump,” which serves as a great introduction to the band: “We’re full grown men! / But we act like kids! / We’ll face the music / Next time we roll in“; and the ultimate intro to John: “I got a name / They Call Me The Bump / One night with me / Is gonna mess you up … I’m a drunken devil! / I’m not the king of cool!

And off they went. The set featured 9 songs from the new album, including two sung by guitarist Ian O’Neil (the hard charging “Walking Out The Door” and the southern rock ballad-feel of “Now It’s Your Turn”) and one by drummer Dennis Ryan, “Clowning Around” (Dennis wrote the song about John Wayne Gacy). The first released single from the record, “Miss K”, is good-time rock at its finest, and really pumped the crowd.

John and the band are loose and relaxed between songs, noodling around like they’re in rehearsal. It’s fun to see. Between songs, we were treated to the theme from Law & Order, AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”, and my favorite, drummer Dennis Ryan singing a verse of Santana & Rob Thomas’ “Smooth” – but sung as Tom Waits. Classic.

Deer Tick played five tunes off of War Elephant, including another highlight of the night, a slowed down “Ashamed” with a killer sax solo from Rob Crowell. Just as cool was the song they chose next, a raucous cover of the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.”

Speaking of covers, the band also showed off their alter ego Deervana, with a spot on version of Nirvana’s “On a Plain.”

The night wrapped just after midnight, with the party anthem off the new album, “Let’s All Go To The Bar.” They were on for a full 90 minutes, but it still seemed short, and there wasn’t even enough time for an encore (I’m guessing the Crescent Ballroom curfew is 12 midnight). Everyone was ready for more, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, I made my way out back and chatted with the band for a few minutes (along with my smuggled can o’ Four Peaks Hop Knot IPA – shh).

me & john mccauley

To me, there’s nothing as invigorating as a solid, genuine, live rock n’ roll show. Deer Tick are as real as they come – an unaffected group of guys who clearly love playing music together and insist on having a great time doing it. It’s all for the love of the music – and luckily, those of us in the crowd get to come along for the ride.

Deer Tick Set List
October 28, 2011
Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix

The Bump
Easy
Baltimore Blues No. 1
Main Street
Chevy Express
Walkin’ out the Door
Ashamed
Bastards of Young (Replacements cover)
Clownin Around
Funny Word
Choir of Angels
These Old Shoes
Now It’s Your Turn
Miss K.
On a Plain (Nirvana cover)
Not So Dense
Mange
Let’s All Go To The Bar

New Deer Tick – “Miss K”

It’s brand new. It’s catchy. I can dance to it. And it’s DEER TICK!

come on miss k
wrap your lovin arms around me
talk dirty
turn me on
let’s get goin

“Miss K” is the newly released first single from Deer Tick’s forthcoming album Divine Providence, due October 25th on Partisan Records.

Loooving this.

You can get a free download of the song here on deertick.viinyl.com. The boys have been having a great time in the studio – this week they’ve been visited by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate. Their album will feature plenty of other special guests I’m sure. New Deer Tick!! Wahoo!!

Listen to “Miss K”:

[audio:missk.mp3]

♠ Free Download on deertick.viinyl.com.

♠ Deer Tick’s very active Facebook page and Twitter.

♠ Last but not least, a cool post from Teenage Kicks with a plethora of Deer Tick covers (Stones, John Prine, the Boss, and even Sean Kingston).

Triple D Playlist (more Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit)

To make sure I leave no stone unturned in my music geekitude, I’m now a premium subscriber to both Spotify and Rdio. You’d think I’d have all the bases covered for any song or album I’d like to hear, and for the most part, that’s true. There are still some holes though. Spotify, surprisingly, has no Delta Spirit and none of the three Deer Tick full lenghts. So I turned to Rdio to craft a special “Triple D Attack” playlist.

This playlist features Dawes, Delta Spirit, Deer Tick, with a healthy smattering of Middle Brother songs. Let’s just say I’m knee deep in a Triple D phase.

Song numero uno on the playlist below is “Dirty Dishes”, a song that is so beautiful and tortured and perfect that I just can’t stop listening – and it’s been months.

In Dawes news, many of you have probably heard about the recently announced tour with Blitzen Trapper. If you’re here with me in Arizona, they’ll be stopping in at the newest music venue in town, the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. It’s a much needed mid-size venue that hopefully will attract a lot of talent. Dawes & Blitzen Trapper will be there Monday, October 10th. My ticket is secured, and I can’t wait.

Delta Spirit just helped kick off the opening day of Lollapalooza on Friday. The good folks at the Audio Perv already have the webcast up (all tunes I saw live last week in Newport).

So here’s the Rdio playlist. Always worth the 7 day free trial to check it out…