Album Review…”Divine Providence” from Deer Tick

Deer Tick
Divine Providence
Partisan Records (2011)
by Contributing Writer Katryn Macko

This album really is nothing short of Divine Providence. It seems as if a higher power did in fact play a part in this fun-filled alt-indie country record. The rustic instruments accolade the rough vocals superbly, and the carefree lyrics commendably play up the band’s matchless style in their fourth studio album. Every track is an innovative sound and experience, abandoning any traces of monotonous moments in this musical revelation.

We are introduced into the world of Divine Providence with the honky-tonk inspired “The Bump”, which precedes the classic rock stylings of “Funny Word”. To change up the genres even more, “Let’s All Go To The Bar” is a punky fusion of chants, distorted guitars, and pounding drums. The single “Main Street” is a lustrous track dripping with Bob Dylan-influenced everything. Following this song is the tranquility of “Clownin’ Around”, which incorporates all facets of being ignorant and young, but songwriter/front man John McCauley articulates the sentiment marvelously. “Chevy Express” also excels in this manner, with the guileless and significant words rolling flawlessly through each note.

The most energized and salient track in this collection is indubitably “Something To Brag About”, which is laden with old school Chuck Berry-like rock and roll. The vocals make a silkier shift in “Walkin’ Out The Door”, but the track still upholds its momentum. The vicious and livid “Make Believe” has a scorching guitar solo that replicates the mood of the McCauley’s lines. Next is the unexpectedly striking “Now It’s Your Turn”, and it arrives with an elegant piano melody and lingers in it’s soft and folky splendor with the earnest chorus lyrics “But out eyes make bridges burn, those nights are all we’ve earned”. In the despairing “Electric”, McCauley spills his guts and laments in the most poetic of ways. The group lightens the mood for the end of the album with the sweet escapist “Miss K” that is full of blissful simplicity.

Deer Tick has once again created a wide-ranging compendium of songs that are equipped with resplendent veracity. Even those who hate all country music will not be able to resist taking part in enjoying this exceptional band.

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Album Review…”Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll” from Foxy Shazam

Foxy Shazam
Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll
Sire Records (2012)
by Contributing Writer Katryn Macko

This may not be the most eloquent way to put it, but classic rock plus Foxy Shazam front man Eric Nally’s sultry vocals equals one bad ass record. Plain and simple. The band’s fourth studio album, Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll, refines this crew's wild tendencies and highlights their myriad of strengths. This Cincinnati six-piece took a daring step by completely changing their signature funkcore sound by attempting to make a strict themed album, but they accomplished it brilliantly.

Church of Rock and Roll has a promising start with its sterling title track and the hit single “I Like It”. Both are the quintessential classic rock tunes, complete with ripping distortion guitar riffs, chorus vocals, and sizzling lyrics. One pleasant surprise was the heart-wrenchingly honest “Forever Together”. This track gambles with pretty much everything Nally does, through the sincere frankness of his emotions, the unconventional vocal pattern, and the rare use of his authentic squeaky voice rather than his suave stage voice, but luckily he knows exactly how to make it all work. The distinctiveness continues with the digital percussion and beautifully harmonized intro choral feature in “(It’s) Too Late Baby”. Nally drags the listener in right when the opening line pours out of his mouth: “When we were young I played the cowboy and you were my beauty queen”. “The Temple” is hands down the most natural and sexy song on the album. The dirty guitar fits seamlessly with the sinful lyrics, “If you want inside my temple, I’m gonna have to let you in”. There is an eerie spoken word bridge followed by a smooth trumpet line that is pristine and entirely satisfying. “The Streets” is a piano rock anthem oozing with raw passion and drive, paying tribute to his hometown and supportive wife. A gorgeously finger picked guitar riff appears on the last track, “Freedom”, and it’s followed by a screamed chorus which creates a fascinating juxtaposition that concludes the album in an ultimately compelling way.

Check out the booty thumping, tongue-in-cheek (we hope) video for “I Like It” here.

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