Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “These Old Shoes” by Deer Tick from the 2008 album War Elephant on Partisan Records.
How does one celebrate what has been the most successful year for their music career thus far? By breaking a bunch of glass at midnight for New Years Eve, of course! Providence, Rhode Island, native John McCauley, aka Deer Tick, tells Dodge of My Old Kentucky Blog that he’s planning to stick with that tradition. McCauley has reason to celebrate as 2008 has seen his musical trajectory skyrocket, placing him on rooftops of New York playing to loving hipster audiences and opening for Wye Oak and the Felice Brothers all within a few short months. Back in 2004, Deer Tick began as a solo project of then 18-year old McCauley, who was a mostly self-taught musician and was booking his own shows around the Northeast, where he could be found selling his self-recorded Deer Tick releases, all while still in high school! With the Partisan Records re-issue of his debut studio album, War Elephant, which was originally released in 2007 by the now defunct Feow! Records, McCauley finds himself being offered headlining dates at the legendary Bowery Ballroom and much desired by music tastemakers fighting for interviews and studio sessions. And what was once a rotating cast of performers is now a solid four-piece, with drummer Dennis Ryan, bassist Chris Ryan, and most recently lead guitarist Andrew Tobiassen. Together, they perform something beyond the easily classifiable “folk rock,” leaning a bit more into more rock, blues, and even grunge influences than some of their contemporaries. Think less CSNY Fleet Foxes, and more folk-punk Two Gallants with a heavy dose of Tom Waits troubadourism. No matter who’s performing with McCauley, though, it will be his rough, rustic, and well-beyond-his-years voice that remains the Deer Tick’s hallmark.
No doubt, the crowds will turn out to see the spirited 22-year-old and his band as Deer Tick performs the last ever show at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan (before it moves to Brooklyn). Then there will be a few more Northeast dates in February before Deer Tick heads out on the road with Jason Isbell. Jump on over to the band’s MySpace page and website for more details. To sample McCauley’s DIY aesthetic, check out his performance of the song “Ashamed” in a kitchen at a Providence house show from just about a year ago: