'This band reminds me of farmers'
I suppose there can be no more honest an opinion than that of pure innocence, especially when that innocence manifests itself in an eleven year old girl who just so happens to be my sister. But you know what, she�s right. Defiance, Ohio (Who don't actually happen to be from Defiance, Ohio and come instead from Bloomington, Indiana - which quite frankly, sounds no where near as cool) more than likely will
remind you of some sort of farm music. That's what you get when you're listening to Folk-Punk I suppose. Yeah, I said Folk-Punk, as in Bob Dylan and The Clash. This ain't no primitive alchemic mixing of the elements either - what we got here is a full blown Revolution in a Box
, which sums up the experience of this album quite nicely.
It's a revolution in that The Great Depression
is more than an album with music - it's an album with a message. But it's a personal message, beginning with the realization that any revolution begins with the individual. This Feels Better
is a tribute to the simple pleasures of skateboarding and the release it offers "because sometimes that's all someone can do." Grandma Song
juxtaposes the security of childhood with the adult realities of a post 9/11 world where "Cities fell in stacks and men jumped from buildings". Themes such as the neglect for nature and fear of an ever creeping consumerist society are prevalent and lend themselves to the band�s somewhat nihilistic and nostalgic views of the present state of the world. Defiance, Ohio have a lyrical mastery - laid over the pleasant sounds of a cello, violin, upright bass, an acoustic guitar and a set of drums - that would do Tomas Kalnoky proud. Their debut full length, Share What Ya Got
was a gem among sentimental folk-punkers all over for its beautiful lyrics, and the band haven't let any screws go loose since then, despite being perhaps somewhat more direct in words:
"And I thank God for gallons of Oil
To spare the rod and spoil the child
To signing my check for boys and girls
to buy up the entire world�"
-The New World Order
While perhaps not the groups most subtle writing, there's no shortage of beauty on The Great Depression
"Our marks can make it through the snow.
But even words can wither in the frost,
If all we ever know is this beating pulse
That slows to less than one beat per minute
Before the spring thaw."
-The Temperature is Dropping.
The problem with all this amazing stuff is that it�s all� too
sincere. The politicized punks like the Dead Kennedys
all relied on the distorted fuzz of chainsaw guitars, harsh vocals, and a whole �in your face, b'itch!� attitude, which by many people, could just be written off as angsty noise. Defiance did the exact opposite and discarded this for beauty and charm in the vein of the campfire allure of the great album Europe by the Ghost Mice (which remains one of my favorite heart-warming albums), which may be equally written off my people saying "oh, thats cute", and not listening to bands powerful message. That isnt to say they arn't sowing off their punk roots - The albums' two openers, Petty Problems
are some rockin' stuff to kick you off. With vocal contributions by the whole band, including the adorable voice of Sherri, the cellist, who provides some great female vocals, the album feels like its being played to you right there in a little room - hence, Revolution in a Box.
Coupling all of this with what seems to be a purposely under-produced album with some occasional off-key singing and violin playing, what you get is not an album needing attention in the clean-up department, but rather, a raw and passionate record that wouldn't be the same if it was 'perfected' like it could be. This isn't the sort of record you'd be looking for for musical virtuosity, but the pure strength of the songwriting on this album more than overcomes what can be seen as a shortcoming. Songs like Enough
might have you cringing for the vocalist to sing in-key, but in the end, its moments like that that make this album what it is.
Variation within this album is no problem too, despite falling in the folk-punk genre which sometimes has people questioning - Have I heard this song before� (Problems which fellow bands like Ghost Mice
and This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb
sometimes fall down on) It�s hard to create too many varying licks and riffs with simple strumming, but Defiance pull it off just fine. From the pounding beats of the opener, Petty Problems
to the awesome catchiness of Oh Susquehanna!
(Named after the river in Pennsylvania), the Mississippi farmhouse stylings of The New World Order
and probably the best punk ballard ever Grandma Song
, you'll come off with more than enough variation here.
This isn't a classic record. It isn't meant to be a classic record. It's a group of kids who came together and told each other, and we want people to listen to what we've got to say, and we want to make music. It's raw and messy, but it calls with a sweetened ferocity, a kick and a caress, for a revolution of the mind, even if it does remind you of farmers.