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In 2008, Deer Tick, the Providence, R.I., project of singer/songwriter John McCauley, was just earning its stripes as a band, having completed and self-released a debut album, War Elephant, in 2007. At the time of the album’s recording, McCauley was the only constant in the band, playing most of the instrumentation himself (with some help from former Dirty Projectors member Brian McOmber.) At 48 minutes, War Elephant is an impressive first effort, with rootsy, alt-country rock tunes behind thoughtfully chosen lyrics, many of which remain among the band’s most popular a decade later.
By the time of this Daytrotter performance, McCauley had given Deer Tick a steadier lineup, with the addition of brothers Chris and Dennis Ryan on the bass and drums, respectively. (It would become a four-piece with the brief addition of guitarist Andrew Tobiassen in 2008, and then a five-piece with the addition of guitarist Ian O’Neil in 2009. Tobiassen would leave in 2009, and the group soon returned to a four-piece, which it remains.) The performance includes “Ashamed” and “Baltimore Blues No. 1” off of War Elephant, as well as “Little White Lies” and “The Ghost,” which would appear on their second release Born on Flag Day later that year. In this brief performance, you can hear a stripped-back blueprint of a band that would soon develop and sharpen a signature sound. Listen to “Baltimore Blues No. 1” from Deer Tick’s first Daytrotter session on this day 10 years ago.