Chris Donaghey
Reviews Editor
September 19, 2007
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Deer Tick
War Elephant

Where would any of us be without music blogs? Aside from the advent of mp3s as a dominant audio medium and the exponential rise of file-sharing services, personal or collective websites whose only purposes are to share songs or albums you would not have heard otherwise have been the most influential music-related creations of the past 10 years. Each of us have our favorites. These blogs shape what we hear by offering availability and an increasingly small degree of separation from the music itself. Through my labyrinthine maze of favorite blogs, I have stumbled across Deer Tick (John McCauley), the project of a 21 year old folk wunderkind from the gritty state of Rhode Island. Deer Tick's debut War Elephant has made me feel that I have rarely been more thankful that the internet exists.

Taking cues from Neil Young's spunky southern fried guitar to a younger and more pop savvy Tom Waits, McCauley and his band take us on a fourteen song trip through the dimly lit back alleys of the broken, hopeful heart, making sure to take some necessary detours to hole-in-the-wall bars to jam a bit with a like-minded crew. From the dejected Josh Ritter after a night of chain smoking sounds of "Ashamed" to Tom Waits slow dancing with Tony Bennett on "What Kind of Fool Am I?," each song is an argument in favor of Deer Tick being the next big folk discovery. The instrumentation of War Elephant sounds just dated enough and McCauley's voice just raw enough to add considerable emotive weight to the everyman stories sprouting from each well-placed verse (honestly, who has never related to "Art Isn't Real's" line of 'I gotta get drunk/I gotta forget some things?').

When "Dirty Dishes" and its vibrant story of autumnal heart strings sprawls out in near slow motion across your mind, it's not difficult to find moments in your own particular past you could use this song to soundtrack. And in the end, he's right to say 'Things could be so much worse.' This review could not possibly be complete without a pun on the name, so let it be said that Deer Tick may not give you Lyme disease, but it will give you so much more.Every song is a poignant blend of accessibility, gorgeous melodies, and a voice that you can feel comes from a genuine source. War Elephant is a special release, one that may very well go unmatched in this genre for the entire year. Thank you, information superhighway.

Release date: September 2, 2007
Label: FEOW! Records
Rating: 9.3 / 10

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