Nov 15, 2007

War Elephant-Deer Tick

A great voice can sometimes be the farthest thing from technically being a great voice in itself. But I will always take a voice of character over a voice of cardboard. Well, John McCauley has a voice of character. Sometimes he sounds like he has swallowed sandpaper for breakfast. But its rawness and complete vulnerability has won me over. So much so that his one man project, Deer Tick, has produced an exciting debut album in "War Elephant".

Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, the 21 year old McCauley has produced a piece of music that is honest and 100% passionate. A vague description for his sound could be garage country or maybe grunge folk. His rasping voice is the central instrument, but there are deft touches of sweet guitar folk, such as on the opening track "Ashamed" and the sweet sounding "Dirty Dishes". "Standing at the Threshold" is raging and rollicking whilst "Long Time" is full of regret and pain. In fact there is a running theme of regret and recrimination. At times it can be a little overpowering as on the draining "Christ Jesus" and a couple of other tracks. Maybe the album could have used some slight editing. But there are other excellent tracks such as "Baltimore Blues No 1" and "These Old Shoes" which both have a blues feel to them and the quite epic "Not So Dense". I think it is better for an artist to aim too high, rather then too low and "War Elephant" is quite a considerable achievement in that regard. I can see that some people might find the voice grating, but not great. But I believe it contains such a reservoir of human emotion, that combined with the intelligent lyrics and sparse, yet effective instrumentation an exciting voice has emerged. One to listen to now and watch for the future.

War Elephant is available for purchase from Feow Records.
MP3: Ashamed-Deer Tick

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