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Deer TickDeer Tick
Album: Vol.1/Vol.2
Label: Partisan
Tracks: 20

Four years on the Rhode Island outfit headed up by John McCauley returns with a release that follows the increasingly common practice of pairing an acoustic set with an electric one. Each has 10 tracks, Vol. 1 (in the red frame) adopting the band's familiar Americana approach with Vol. 2 (in the gold) highlighting McCauley's punk and garage influences.

The quieter of the two gets underway with its longest number, the five and a half minute alt-country strummed chugger 'Sea of Clouds', McCauley adopting Dylan-like nasal vocal delivery before the sort of Latin-tinged rhythmic sway of 'Card House' and the fingerpicked jog that is the melodically tumbling 'Doomed From The Start'.

Penned by guitarist Ian O'Neil, the swayalong 'Hope Is Big' introduces harmonica and keys with a kind of rustic church vibe, while the lyrically optimistic 'Only Love' brings on the strings and, with its piano and metronomic drumbeat, 'Cocktail' conjures a vision of a honky tonk with jazz lounge ambitions. Drummer Dennis Ryan takes the credits for the organ-backed steady march paced' Me and My Man', the disc playing out with the introspective, slow lope of 'End of the World', the wearied folksy 'Limp Right Back' and, with its after the rain folksiness feel, another fingerpicked number in 'Rejection'.

Slot in Vol.2 and everything blows up. 'Don't Hurt' sets the trajectory with an opening surge of power chords, bassist Christopher Ryan stepping into the spotlight, Ryan laying down the steady walking beat while organ and distorted guitars add the colour. The melodically catchy 'Jumpstarting' is edgier in a Neil Young meets punk pop way , with the mosh pit opening its gates for 'It's A Whale' and 'Tiny Fortunes' picking up on the sensibility The Clash brought to Bobby Fuller's 'I Fought The Law'.

They're heavier with the bass driven 'Sloppy', the vocals held back in the mix while thumping drums and snarling guitars take centre stage, reverting to a poppier chug with 'Wants/Needs' while, cascading across organ lines, 'S.M.F' is another catchy new wave bounce. Slowing it down for the piano-backed instrumental 'Pulse' with its waves of percussion, it ends in barrelhouse piano boogie style with all three vocalists barely taking a breath as they race through the rock n rolling 'Mr. Nothing Gets Worse'.

So, slip on the first when you get back from a hard day and want to just sit back with a beer, and the second when you want that beer in your fist while you rip up some floor space. This Deer Ticks both boxes.

Mike Davies