Any attempt at actually narrowing down the sound of the Providence, Rhode Island-based quartet Deer Tick ultimately comes up short. To the band's credit, that's because it actually defies definition. The fact the foursome often falls back on an alt-country approach may enter the equation, but equally important are elements of punk, grunge and, on occasion, sheer, unapologetic sentiment.
It's been noted in the past that singer / songwriter / de facto band leader John McCauley often comes across like an unholy blend of Kurt Cobain and Connor Oberst. But his emotional deliberations and sometimes goofy stage persona - it seems he's particularly fond of shedding his trousers - seems at odds with these serious comparisons. That's all the more reason to enjoy both sides of the band's dichotomy, through its forthcoming July concert at White Room as well as through its striking new album, The Black Dirt Sessions.
Deer Tick's third effort to date, it finds McCauley's wounded croon skewering the mood throughout, from the gentle sway of opening track "Choir of Angels" and the loping pace of "Twenty Miles," to the sprawling deliberation of "Blood Moon" and "I Will Not Be Myself."
Nevertheless, McCauley and company never fully shed their edgy attitude, one reason why we especially enjoy this extra free MP3 that doesn't appear on the album. It's a casual cover of the cheery "Sun Street," a song originally recorded by Katrina and the Waves, the '80s outfit of "Walking on Sunshine" fame. "Sun Street" boasts the same sort of giddy effervescence, but in Deer Tick's capable hooves (and grooves), it leaves an especially friendly impression.
Deer Tick. Wednesday, July 28. White Room, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami. 305-995-5050; whiteroomshows.com