Let’s face it, mayonnaise is the outlier of condiments. It’s a little different – not mainstream like its ketchup and mustard counterparts. It is at times underrated, it is mocked, it is usually the last picked at the picnic table. But if you mix it with a little garlic? Well then, you have some fancy ass mayonnaise that restaurants upcharge for and call aioli.
Fitting then that this spread is the clever title for Providence, RI band Deer Tick’s latest release; a 13 track compilation of alternate takes from the band’s 2017 double-release Volume 1 and Volume 2, a few new tracks and some ambitious covers.
The album opens strong with the electric guitar song “Bluesboy”, a quintessential Deer Tick number and a radio hit in the making. One can picture being at a show, shaking their head along to John McCauley’s distinct vocals. The track is perfectly cadenced as it closes out with syncopated guitar and drums and is reminiscent of tracks found on the band’s Divine Providence album.
The band, who is known for performing avant guard covers during their live sets, seasoned the Mayonnaise tracklist with ambitious renditions of “White City” by the Pogues and “Run of the Mill” by George Harrison. They also covered “Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground, which keeps intact the forlorn and longing sentiment of the original but also blends in a dreamy element to it with its sweet strumming and soothing drumming (bongos? Percussion mallets?), giving their interpretation a laid back surfer vibe.
The most interesting takeaway from the album is the undeniable country influence that can be heard across the alternate outakes. No one really likes labels but Deer TIck has been vocally opposed to getting slapped as a country band. Their alternate version of “Cocktail” begs to differ, utilizing a slide guitar and a little less piano than the original and conjuring a barroom and cowgirl boots over Jimmy Buffett.
Other alternates such as “End of the World” and “Doomed From The Start” are not notably different from the originals, which felt a little disappointing for a band that is so heavy on the electric guitar. For example, If you think of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and compare it to the infamous stripped down acoustic version that Dave Grohl performed on the Howard Stern show, then you feel like you have uncovered a hidden gem. Here, it feels like the listener is getting to know a softer side of Deer Tick. Albeit one they are already familiar with.
Whatever way you slice it, Deer Tick’s “leftovers” are better than the main courses of many other bands. This compilation is an attempt to show fans a more vulnerable side of the band, the ones that would choose the mayonnaise.