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      Deer Tick

      Deer Tick

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      Experimentation and evolution was at the heart of East Coast indie rockers Deer Tick, who moved fluidly from country-rock to rowdy garage and pop over the course of a decade-plus recording career. The nucleus of Deer Tick was singer-songwriter John McCauley, a self-taught musician who began performing with various hard rock bands in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island while still in high school. His sound eventually shifted towards an amalgam of rock, folk and country, and with drummer Paul Marandola, McCauley formed a duo he called My Other Face that toured throughout the Northeastern United States. When Marandola left the group in 2005, he adopted the moniker Deer Tick - inspired by an encounter with the eponymous insect - and performed with a revolving group of musicians, including drummer Dennis Ryan, while recording his music on a series of CD-R releases. Eventually, a loose coalition of players, including Ryan's brother Christopher, would form the backbone of Deer Tick, though McCauley would play most of the instruments on War Elephant (2007), its debut album for Houston's Feow! Records. Critical response to the record - which would be re-issued in 2008 by Partisan Records due to royalty issues with Feow! - was uniformly positive and drew comparisons to such alt-country heavyweights as Uncle Tupelo and Bright Eyes. The band, which added guitarist Andrew Tobiassen in 2008, toured extensively in support of War Elephant and its follow-up, Born on Flag Day (2009). That same year, Deer Tick recorded a slew of unreleased material, resulting in the 2010 EP More Fuel for the Fire and its third album, The Black Dirt Sessions (2010), which again, proved to be a critical and listener favorite. The band had already undergone a change to its lineup - Titus Andronicus guitarist Ian O'Neill had replaced Tobiassen, and veteran keyboardist Rob Crowell had joined its ranks - but with its fourth album, Divine Providence (2011), Deer Tick would also explore a new direction in its sound. Tired of the alt-country/indie-folk label, McCauley and the band dove headlong into a looser, louder, garage-oriented direction that polarized some longtime fans, but drew praise for its adventurous approach. Deer Tick would continue on this protean path for the next few years: the band performed as the Nirvana tribute act Deervana, while McCauley, O'Neill and Crowell would launch several side bands, most notably Middle Brother and Diamond Rugs. The latter group also featured Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, who would produce Deer Tick's fifth LP, Negativity (2013). The album's sound - a mix of melancholy ruminations and flirtations with pop - drew on McCauley's tumultuous personal life, which included family problems, his struggles with substance abuse, and his marriage to singer Vanessa Carlton in 2013. Following its release, McCauley and his band mates would tour on a regular basis but remain absent from the studio until 2017, when they simultaneously issued two albums - the roots-minded Vol. 1 and the punk-fueled Vol. 2. The latter project, which would mark Crowell's last collaborations with Deer Tick before departing that same year, was followed in 2019 by Mayonnaise, a collection of alternate takes, covers and some new material.



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