In 2017, roughnecked road rockers Deer Tick broke a four-year silence with the simultaneous release of two self-titled albums, one of acoustic alt-country and one of sloppy, full-energy rockers. Those paying attention might have noted the cover art for both was a variation of the same oil painting depicting bottles of ketchup and mustard, slyly signifying the distinctive flavors of each set of songs. It's not a stretch then that a companion album made up of outtakes, alternate versions and other miscellanea recorded at or inspired by those sessions would be titled Mayonnaise. Where the two self-titled volumes nicely illustrated both songwriter John McCauley's range and the band's chops, this smattering of extras is a looser and less serious expansion. Along with alternate versions of tunes from the acoustic album ("End of the World," "Limp Right Back"), the piecemeal collection is padded with outtakes, covers of favorite live standards by the Pogues, George Harrison, and others, and a couple of brand-new songs. Where the two self-titled albums took focused turns showing off the band's introverted side and flexing their bar band chops, Mayonnaise is more all over the place, moving from Band-modeled roots rock like "Old Lady" to perky pop throwaway "Hey! Yeah!" to a saccharine coffee-shop reading of the Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes." The grab bag feel of the album comes to a head with the inclusion of faux jazz instrumental "Memphis Chair," signifying that Mayonnaise is far more a vault-clearing bonus round for fans only than anything close to a proper album. While Deer Tick enthusiasts will smile at alternate versions, fun covers, and the spare track or two of credibly considered new originals, the casual listener should begin anywhere else in the band's storied (and often great) catalog.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas