Born on Flag Day - Partisan
FILTER Grade: 74%
By Marty Garner on November 23, 2009
Country music is just as cliché-riddled as indie rock, though unlike their non-booted amigos, the good country singers know it and use the formula to their advantage, concentrating on performance and passion. Not for nothing can Willie Nelson still bring down the house every time he sings “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” So forgive me if the prospect of a bunch of young mustachioed hipsters from Providence, Rhode Island, playing skuzzy country music isn’t exactly a promising thought. Good country music depends on emotional nakedness and, let’s face it, passion ain’t never been indie’s strongest suit. To that end, the lower-than-lo-fi production on their previous album, War Elephant, which granted the group big-ups from the indie world, turns out to be their biggest enemy on Born on Flag Day. The raspy sound obscures the emotion of these songs, placing a distance between the band and their music. While some country singers have used lo-fi to great effect (e.g., Neil Young on Tonight’s the Night), Deer Tick doesn’t yet have the songwriting chops or musical confidence to do the same on record—key word being “yet.” The band is not exactly daytripping here and there is a great fervor in what they do, but the fruit is not quite ripe.