When Rhode Island’s Deer Tick returned after a four-year gap they were obviously intent on making up for lost time and released two albums of new material which showcased their ability to switch from punky alt-rock to melancholy Americana without missing a beat. The ‘Twice Is Nice’ tour followed and the artistic rejuvenation of the band continued at a pace. This rush of activity finds a logical conclusion with ‘Mayonnaise’ which acts as both a companion piece to the recent albums and a nice memory jog if you were lucky enough to catch the guys on tour. ‘Mayonnaise’ is a pretty cool release and should prove essential to fans who will find plenty of interesting stuff to get their teeth into. A mix of new material, alternate versions of recent tracks and cover tunes performed on the tour ‘Mayonnaise’ is more a rich hearty stew than a mere condiment.
‘Spirals’ is an interesting choice to open the record. A thick dark, treacly stomp laced with discordant guitar lines and an underlying hint of menace. In typical Deer Tick fashion expect the unexpected and you’ll be good to go. Of the other new material ‘Old Lady’ finds McCauley’s drawl used to good effect while ‘Strange, Awful Feeling’ highlights the vocal harmonies over picked guitars and spacey drums. ‘Hey! Yeah!’ is really cool, in an infectious foot-tapping Americana goes power pop kinda way, while the short and sweet late-night jazzy instrumental ‘Memphis Chair’ works as a fun musical interlude and reminds us that Deer Tick are willing to play outside any genre pigeonholes.
Regarding the material that originally featured on Vol.1; Spencer Cullum Jr. of Steelism adds typically wonderful pedal steel guitar colour to ‘Cocktail’ at the expense of some of those lovely piano lines on the original. ‘Cocktail’ always had a sound of the border feel musically which is emphasised by the pedal steel. ‘Doomed from the Start’, ‘End of the World’ and ‘Limp Right Back’ are the other tracks revisited here. These alternate versions sound great, not strikingly different but in some ways cleaner sounding than the originals with the picked guitars on ‘Doomed’ standing out while ‘End’ seems more trippy and ambient this time around.
As I mentioned earlier studio versions of cover tunes the band performed on their recent tours are included here. The Pogues never really did anything for me personally so ‘White City’ is well done but it is what it is while I found the likes of Ben Vaughn’s ‘Too Sensitive For This World’ to be far more to my taste. Deer Tick do a great job of making this their own with the original’s organ and gospel-influenced backing harmonies present but given a Deer Tick tweak. ‘Paul Blue Eyes’ the Lou Reed/Velvet Underground track has been covered by all manner of acts over the years with Patti Smith, Hole (very scary) and R.E.M. just three of many. Deer Tick’s version is faithful to the core of the original and thanks to some nicely judged percussion choices and an upfront bass guitar track this works really well. The covers are rounded out by George Harrison’s ‘Run of the Mill’ originally from 1970’s sprawling ‘All Things Must Pass’ set. A very important song in post-Beatles lore ‘Run of the Mill’ is treated with reverence and the brass is surprisingly not missed.
‘Mayonnaise’ is released February 1st via Partisan Records and is well worth checking out. The addition of the cover tunes might even bring a few newcomers into the Deer Tick universe and they’ll find lots to discover