What is a Jew’s greatest dilemma?
Yes, free stuff is great. In recent years more and more bands have been releasing their music, potentially, for absolutely nothing – namely Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails. But these are two well established bands that had made millions before they decided to give fans the choice of how much to pay for recent albums, so it could be argued that what they’re doing isn’t actually as groundbreaking and philanthropic as it may seem because they can comfortably afford to do this. However, in recent years less famous bands have been doing the same – essentially doing a Radiohead before Radiohead themselves. One of these bands is Defiance, Ohio who are not actually from Defiance, Ohio, but in fact are from Bloomington, Indiana.
Utilising violins, cellos, banjos and upright basses Defiance, Ohio have an incredibly unique instrumental timbre for what is essentially a punk band. It goes without saying that this isn’t punk in the vein of someone like Bad Religion or Rise Against, but a very country-influenced version of the genre. Instead they play what is commonly described as a folk-punk band somewhat akin to Thomas Kalnoky’s Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. Songs such as ‘Anxious and Worrying’
saunter along at a relaxed pace with a softly-plucked banjo riff before climaxing into an energetic chorus. It is also in this song that lead singer Geoff’s Isaac Brock-from-Modest Mouse-esque lisp is most apparent. This could potentially be a turn-off for many listeners but at the same time seems to fit the music quite well.
‘The Fear, The Fear, The Fear’ kicks off quite forcefully with the ominous, minor-sounding strings of ‘Can’t Stop It, Won’t Stop It’
. It is a very abrupt beginning to the album and is one of the strongest songs on the album, instantly making an impact with a catchy chorus and fast pace. It stands out not only because of its quality, but also because it is uncharacteristically aggressive as the rest of the album takes a far more cheerful and relaxed approach. However, ‘The Fear...’ is still an energetic album as songs like ‘The Things We Won’t Let Settle...’
explodes about half-way through before going into a powerful half-time feel and ‘The Years, The Fears, The Sleep’
features fast violin playing though the rough and ready vocals are the real haymaker.
However, although ‘The Fear...’ is an enjoyable album, overall it leaves little impact. Partly due to its very short running –time (24:25), partly due to a lack of memorable songs it seemingly comes and goes before you know it. There’s not a whole lot specifically wrong with the album. As mentioned earlier, the vocals may divide opinion but the main problem with ‘The Fear...’ is that the rustic folk-punk sound gets repetitive and tiresome. In small doses it is very enjoyable, but as a complete album it is a little hard to take pleasure from, even if it is less than 25-minutes long. ‘The Fear, The Fear, The Fear’ has its moments, in particular the aggressive opening of ‘Can’t Stop It, Won’t Stop It’ and the solid song writing and contrast between tempos in ‘The List’
both stand out. However, overall the prevailing impression that the album leaves you with is one of monotony, and unfortunately the repetition taints what can be a good album in small doses.