I’ve had uniformly positive opinions about Deer Tick, the Providence, Rhode Island band. I’ve made comparisons between them and The Replacements and The Ramones. I associate their music with John McCauley’s self deprecating rasp, with good times and beer swilling and good-bad choices.
But despite all this, Deer Tick has not been a band I think of as epic. They’ve been raucous, rowdy, and a whole lot of fun — but epic? That’s a word reserved for stadium sound, for magnum opuses of rock ‘n’ roll. That hasn’t been what Deer Tick has been about.
Until now. “The Rock,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming album Negativity (coming out September 24), is a whole new kind of Deer Tick, starts with an ominous refrain, with the eerie plinking of taut guitar picking punctuated by the rumble of a growling base. The song suddenly bursts into action with a slide across organ keys, a crash of piano chords, and insistently strummed guitar chords.
The big sound is reminiscent of past Deer Tick tracks (with McCauley’s vocals providing a decided anchor), but with a distinctly more layered, composed approach. There’s more intent, more pathos here. And then, before you know it, there’s the flurry of horns (provided by Grupo Fantasmo), skyrocketing “The Rock” into straight up Springsteen territory.
A dark, contemplative beginning that crescendos into a richly layered, multi-instrumental symphonic rock ballad may be new territory for Deer Tick, but they pull it off with such panache that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them getting on the stadium circuit soon.
Epic? I’d say so.