McCauley might not have known what he was doing when he produced War Elephant, but he certainly did with The Black Dirt Sessions. As the album gets more exposure, you can bank on the Choir of Angels, Mange, Blood Moon, and Christ Jesus to pick up. They are the best picks of the bunch.
Right now, Twenty Miles is catching the most attention as a testament to McCauley's songwriting abilities, combined with his raw and powerful voice. Make sure you listen to the more polished studio version on iTunes, but this clip from a live performance in Houston captures the personality of this underrated band.
Many reviewers don't understand Deer Tick, sometimes scratching their heads in confusion because of the band's genre-defying style. Maybe that's why the hearty folk rock grunge works so well. Since appearing on Letterman in June, a few have come around. Sort of.
Given the band's trek up the charts, some reviewers are attempting to elevate their stature. McCauley's not much like that. The band still posts backyard concerts on their MySpace page, singing covers because they "weren't playing well enough to sing their own music." Much better to mess up Nirvana.
Even the names chosen by the band aren't "revelations." Deer Tick was chosen after McCauley found one on his forehead while hiking in Indiana. The Black Dirt Sessions is named after the recording studio where they cut the album. Nobody could come up with anything better. Their Website is remarkably sparse.
The band has been changed up a few times before settling with Christopher Dale Ryan (bass) and Dennis Ryan (drums) in 2007 and Andrew Tobiassen (guitar) in 2008 [later replaced by Ian O'Neil in early 2010]. McCauley is the principal songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist hailing from Providence, Rhode Island. Bored with some questions reviewers have been asking, he recently interviewed himself to say he is heavily influenced by Tom Petty and Sammy Davis, Jr. (I guess no one else asked or he was tired of reading some off-the-wall guesswork.)
Deer Tick - The Black Dirt Sessions Nails An 8.7 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Deer Tick originally started as the John McCauley project in 2005. The Black Dirt Sessions on iTunes was released on June 8. Some customers feel there isn't enough variation in the lineup this time around, but it's still holding strong with a 4.5-star rating. I dunno. Most people aren't buying complete albums these days.
The same rating holds true on Amazon, with one reviewer lamenting that he wished more of his friends gravitated to the infectious honesty of the songs. Give it time. The Black Dirt Sessions was on sale there at the time of this review.