Deer Tick presents "Deervana" (performing "In Utero" in its entirety)
From the band that’s been both accurately and inaccurately labeled just about everything this side of Top 40 comes a true-to-form rock-n-roll record. Scratch that, true-to-form is not Deer Tick’s style. Let’s start over…
Naturally, after so many years of critics praising [and making fun of] them for their “folk” and “country” sounds and hardly ever mentioning the fact that they’ve also recorded virtually dozens of other kinds of music, the band wanted to make a record that was truer to their live set (which has gained some notoriety): raw, loud, heartfelt, and completely uninterested in whatever the hell the rest of the music industry is up to.
To produce this record, the band recruited the team of Adam Landry and Justin Collins, who produced McCauley’s side-project Middle Brother’s debut album. The results are unlike anything you’ve heard on a Deer Tick album, but Deer Tick achieves something that is a lot more accurate to their live sound. Distorted guitars are aplenty, guitarist Ian O’Neil and drummer Dennis Ryan take lead vocal duties for the first time on record. Man, you can practically smell the sweat and the beer! Shit, you may even hear a guitar or two break somewhere in there! It’s got a little Exile, it’s got a little In Utero, it’s got a little Nilsson Schmilsson, but it’s 100% Deer-Fucking-Tick in their purest, and most carefree form… perhaps that’s because this is the first record they’ve recorded in their home state of Rhode Island… GAH!!! No need to over-think this shit!!! Moving on…
The songs are there. The delivery is in your face. There’s no studio magic. There’s no hiding the fact that Deer Tick is just five regular dudes. This record may rattle your thoughts, and it may make you think differently about Deer Tick, but at least they didn’t make the same album four times in a row, right?
When does a musician finally hit upon his or her particular "sound"? For some, it bursts forth from their body fully formed; for others, it takes months or sometimes years of trial-and-error. For Mackenzie Scott, the singer-songwriter from Nashville who performs under the name Torres, the foundation and framework of her distinctive sound were already in place but it just needed that one crucial final piece.
"My family pitched in to get me a Gibson 335 last year for Christmas," she says. "I didn't quite find the sound I was looking for until I started playing electric." Listen to her self-titled debut album and you'll hear just how crucial that instrument is to her songs now. The delicacy and intimacy that was born from acoustic roots are still there, but now that she's fully plugged in, her music has intensified, with deeper shades of darkness creeping into the mix.
The album also carries with it a rawness and humanism that only serves to increase the feelings of isolation, longing, fear, guilt, revelation, and resolution that Scott expresses beautifully throughout. Torres was recorded over the course of five days in a Tennessee home owned by fellow singer-songwriter Tony Joe White (he of "Polk Salad Annie" fame), and recorded live to tape with as few overdubs as could be managed.
"I wanted this record to be the most honest version of itself that it could be," the 22-year-old songwriter says, "and ultimately that meant that it needed to remain unpolished and fairly raw. I left in a few imperfect vocal takes because I thought it sounded more human that way."
The effect provides the album with a rough-hewn beauty. The cracks that sharpen the edges of songs like the pointed "Jealousy & I" or the drum machine-driven "Chains" gives listeners an even starker look into the heart of these deeply felt songs. And if you lean in close, you might be able to hear the creak of the wooden floors in the house and the hum of the tape machine capturing it all.
To preserve the sonic warmth and integrity of this gritty, heartfelt album, Torres will be available on double vinyl, as well as on CD and digital formats. No matter how you listen to it, though, the songs will cut right to the bone. Scott spills every inch of her soul on these tracks, reflecting the joys and sorrows, and the unpredictability and uncertainty of life and love.
TORRES is Mackenzie Scott
Anyone looking for an all-encompassing statement-of-purpose for SOFT, the hyper-caffeinated new record from Rathborne will find it in the first line of the second song when Luke Rathborne – chief songwriter and principle persona – hiccups, "Heard you gotta get it in motion." From that moment on, SOFT never stops moving bounding from one jagged-edged neo-New Wave song to the
next, marrying the fast-and-loose ethos of The Ramones with the coiled neurosis of early Devo and the melodic ease of classic R.E.M. and Tom Petty. "The feeling of the record is incredible energy," says Rathborne. "Youthfulness, lust -- the feeling of breaking out of yourself, unchaining yourself, forcing yourself to be
free." That same spirit of optimism and restlessness also characterizes Rathborne's career to date. He learned how to play guitar at age 12, when a stranger who was passing through the small town in Northern Maine where Rathborne lived left
the instrument at his house ("There was a lot of freewheelin' types passing through my house when we were kids," he chuckles). Inspired by the DIY spirit of punk rock, he recorded his first album, After Dark, when he was just 16 years old, sneaking into the recording studio of his local college late at night and teaching
himself how to use the equipment. "I guess ambition when you're young is really unusual," Rathborne says, "But I just couldn't really find a place in high school." Rathborne relocated to New York when he was just 18, where he connected with famed Tin Pan Alley producer Joey Levine. From there, Rathborne began
steadily honing his skills, booking himself a weeklong UK tour, netting a slot opening for The Strokes at South By Southwest and recording the EP I Can Be One/Dog Years, which earned him an appearance on the BBC''s 6 Music. "In the course of making those records," he says, "I've gone from being a 16-year-old kid to being an adult." That maturity is evident throughout SOFT, a story of heartbreak and redemption that told in spit-shined Buddy Holly vocal melodies. Produced by Rathborne and Emery Dobyns (Antony & the Johnsons, Battles, Noah & the Whale), with mixing
and co-production by Gus Oberg and The Strokes' Albert Hammond, Jr., the record nestles honey-sweet hooks inside tangles of guitar and Darren Will's percolating bass. "Some of the punk bands I had been in as a teenager sounded like this, "Rathborne says, "So it's a 'return to punk' for me in some ways."
That comes through in songs like "Wanna Be You," where Rathborne sighs and pines over a whistling synth line and a taut cluster of guitar that recalls vintage Nick Lowe. "That's really a song about identity," Rathborne explains. "It's about figuring out why people love each other, why they want to be each other, and
when that crosses the line." "Last Forgiven," which Rathborne says is about "redemption and yearning," cruises and dips like a roller coaster going halfspeed. Despair and hope commingle in "So Long NYC," a speed-racing, Guided By Voices-style power-pop number in which Rathborne flips the mythologizing
associated with New York on its head. "It's like the antithesis of a Frank Sinatra song," he says. "There was a point for about a year where I was crashing between peoples' apartments, walking around feeling hungry. I would work in a bar near Union Square and then walk around the streets after it was dark. Wandering
through New York City late at night when everyone else was asleep, It made me feel like I had stumbled onto something secret." That contradictory impulse – romanticism and cynicism, energy and exhaustion, is what powers SOFT, and what dusts its cotton candy melodies with a fine layer of grit. "As you get older, the feeling of being drawn between love and cynicism
grows exponentially – almost like someone in medieval times being stretched out on a rack," Rathborne says. "Art is about making a connection between those things." That's what Rathborne does throughout SOFT, and the results are as
infectious as they are complex. "There's something hidden in there for everyone," Rathborne explains. "We're all reaching for something, and art helps people deal with those things. I hope people realize the album is about something deeper than what's on the surface. It's a record about hope and redemption and
energy and possibility. And hopefully, it can be a record about people's lives."