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The latest side-project from Deer Tick frontman (and ongoing lead of crazier, oft-frontal nudity oriented stage performances), John McCauley, the aptly titled Diamond Rugs - or, “I’m on drugs” (get it?!) – is, as expected, more of the same wildly catchy, impressively immoral folk rock.
I want the kinda hand I can look at and admire not a goofy little ball of flesh.
Featuring a collaboration between McCauley, his deer tick brothern Robbie Crowell, Ian St. Pe (The Black Lips), and members of Los Lbos, Dead Confederate, and Six Figure Satellite, the first record from this rag tag crew of southern ne’er do gooders offers more than I expected. That is, it sounded like another McCauley and a backing band job – not unlike half of his other, other side job with Middle Brother (which led a shared vocal title with members of Dawes). However, there’s a whole lot more layers to this record than meets the eye.
I want the kinda dog that listens when I call and pisses on my neighbors fence.
I mean, sure, we see plenty of the tried and true Deer Tick spirit coming through on a number of tracks (“Gimme a Beer” and “I Took Note” might as well be a b-side from the aforementioned act – and I mean that in the best way possible, they’re excellent), but there are others that are unlike anything ANY of the crew from Diamond Rugs plays on their day job. Maybe that’s just the feeling this record gives of: a bunch of dudes wanted to make a record together. There’s a good times vibe sewn throughout the 14 track, 45 minute spanning record.
I want the kina house I’ll sit down on the couch and say damn it feels good to be a gangster.
Standout tracks like “Blue Mountains” and “Call Girl Blues” are so simple and honky tonk inspired they’re a surefire stuck in your head tracks. Meanwhile, the lowly “Totally Lonesome” plays to an eerie kind of minimalist, coupled with a haunting voice that one could picture in some David Lynch desert road sequence. Then McCauley brings the album home with the final two tracks posing completely difference sentiments.
“Hungover and Horny” is kind of the embodiment of McCauley as a human being insofar as I’ve seen, read, heard from him. Remember, this is the guy who drank a bottle of JD on stage at Lee’s Palace before ending Deer Tick’s encore playing the guitar with an appendage surely not built for the six-string (also, ouch – chill, guy!). With an abrupt end, the act sings off with the saxophone laden ballad, “Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant”.
Lastly, “Country Mile” is a sweet, psych inducing track. It embodies a different times of trouble, unclear minds, simplicity, and – like all great album tracks – that dirty kind of unsung love. A keeper, surely.
With a drug reference in their name, well, the album fits true to the same form. There are a range of anecdotes, drunken nonsense, hangovers, sweet nothings, depression, blissful incapacity, and, in final, a sobering realization. The drug of choice is surely a matter of preference based on the eclectic group comprising Diamond Rugs, but it all works in near perfect, devil may care chaos.