Earlier this year Deer Tick released its excellent second disc, Born on Flag Day. It was less Hank Williams and more of a southern rock revival that seemed to fit the band much better. Knowing it was a successful step in the right direction, they’ve given us four more tracks from those sessions and called it what else but More Fuel for the Fire. What’s great about this EP is that it’s not just another re-release of a single; instead, it gives us more new music and a balls-out live track that leaves you yearning for the whole show.
As Deer Tick progressed between records, the Rhode Island based outfit moved comfortably into the arena of southern rock bar band but without all the confederate flags cluttering up the stage. John McCauley’s scratchy, smoke laden voice sounds like he picked up a second pack a day to step up with the music, and what you get is another venture into retro rock lala land. That’s how it was as of the last record, and for this short stint they’ve decided to bring a little more country to the mix.
I know I said they were a little less Williams on Flag Day, but EP opener “La la La” is all Dixie. A familiar little slide steel opens the playful track and sets the tone for the rest of the effort. They build from country to rock, doing so with the subdued and short “Dance of Love”. “Axe of Love” is the last of the new tracks and is a little more of what they delivered on the last record: fun, straight up southern rock. If you hadn’t caught it already, the two songs serve as a kind of duo, both diving into the obvious subject matter, one finishing what the other started.
The real treat comes at the very end with the live cut of “Straight into a Storm” from Flag Day. Everything moves faster than the album version with McCauley’s sloppy vocals making the original version sound sober. The blistering guitar solos in the middle give the song a level of energy that’s just impossible to catch in a studio.
As electronic music went all 80’s on us, rock dove back into the ’70s. Music moves in cycles, it’s just how it goes (if this sound doesn’t fit you, wait another ten years and we’ll have the 90’s part deux). Until then bands like Deer Tick will keep on with the old school, adding just a little modern flavor, but not much. …Fire is even less modern as it rolls in the music that their parents might have listened to. That’s not a bad thing though because they play it with just as much vigor as anyone could have 40 years ago. I guess that’s what makes this Back to the Future-like music scene so bearable, and records like Flag Day as enjoyable as they are.
As for the EP, it’s more of what Deer Tick does best as they progress their sound and figure out exactly what fits. A little grit here and a little more twang there make for a great companion to their last record. I still have to ask though, since when were hipsters into country?
More Fuel For the Fire EP