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Know Your Ruminant Mammals

Posted by October 25th, 2011 No Comments »

A Guide to Indie Rock “Deer” Bands
By Matt Ashworth

In the early days of this humble endeavor, we helped our dear readers navigate through the murky waters of mid-90s “super bands.” Thanks to these valiant efforts, many a young music fan successfully prioritized the Supersuckers over Supedrag over Super Deluxe.

Today’s indie rock fan faces a similar dilemma with bands who have the word “deer” in their name. Here’s a handy guide to distinguishing these musical mammals apart.

Deer Tick are Rhode Island scumbag country rock dudes who’ve released three solid, if uneven, albums that highlight the great songs and gravelly voice of John McCauley. They won me over at SXSW this year when they covered Warren Zevon’s “Play it All Night Long” one day and then destroyed a full Nirvana tribute the next. The version of “Dirty Dishes” they did for their 2009 Daytrotter session is my favorite track of the last few years.

Deerhunter are precocious Atlanta indie rockers and perhaps the most talented band alive right now, despite my Nada co-founder’s narrow-sighted review of their excellent 2009 Microcastles album. They can sound like Sonic Youth and the Cure and Kraftwerk the Verve and Nick Drake and the Beatles without sounding like any of them. Pretentious as all get out, these guys are one of the rare Pitchfork bands that live up to the hype. This song here, “Desire Lines” from their 2010 record Halcyion Digest, is so good it makes me want to poop right in my pants. Try listening to it on headphones in your backyard. Wrap your arms around yourself in a big self-hug and just sway back and forth while looking up at the sky.

Deerhoof are an “experimental noise rock band” from San Francisco, which, as per usual, means “nerdy dudes playing all sorts of crazy rhythms that no one except other musicians can appreciate.” They also have an Asian gal who yelps like a cat. At least that was the scene when when I worked security for their Chop Suey show in approximately 2004. Now they apparently sound like this: Deerhoof vs Evil: 14 Years of Noisy Madness Comes to Neumos.

Deer Tick play the Tractor Tavern Monday, November 7 with Guards and The Barr Brothers.

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