Deer Tick frontman John J. McCauley is an alt-rock enfant terrible with an old soul. A touring musician since his late teens, McCauley’s current band blends blues and folk with the throat-spitting vocals of someone who sounds like he’s done time in a Nirvana tribute band. (And Deer Tick have: They’re called Deervana.)
Their fourth release, Divine Providence, finds them streamlining these influences into a straight-up, kick-in-the-teeth rock sound. “Funny World” stomps like “Suffragette City” with a little more dirt under the fingernails, while the Replacements would undoubtedly raise a glass (or 10) to the rowdy beer-punk anthem “Let’s All Go to the Bar.” But Divine Providence also shows off McCauley’s range in moments of sobering reflection (“Chevy Express,” “Electric”). “Goodbye, time/ You ain’t on my side,” he croaks on the Stones-nodding “Main Street,” sounding characteristically wizened beyond his years.