Defiance, Ohio - The Great Depression
And it calls for battle in god's name and it calls for Bush to lead it
And the blueprint calls to drill for oil and exterminate the land
And if you can't hear god's calling then you're probably from France
There's just a hint (a hint, mind you) of a public re-politicization of American music over the past few months, with Neil Young's Living With War album and Bruce Springsteen's tour of Pete Seeger songs perhaps reflecting a general mood ahead of this year's mid-term elections. That these elder statesman of rock are the most public examples of a possible seachange may be slightly disconcerting, but it's an interesting spectacle and one which only shines a light on the flame that has always raged on the underground.
American punk has dabbled with roots music before, with the likes of The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly mixing elements of street punk with a Pogues-influenced emerald hue. But Defiance, Ohio sound American, their banjos and fiddles ringing to the tunes of Appalachia rather than the Ardoyne. And although theres is a resolutely traditional, even archaic, format The Great Depression is infused with a passion that makes it the most genuinely alive album I've encountered for some time.
Make no mistake that this is a political album, but one that understands that as individuals, politics begins at home and the people around you. 'This Feels Better', for example, is a tribute to the simple pleasures of skateboarding and the release it offers "because sometimes that's all someone can do." 'Grandma Song' contrasts the security of childhood with the adult realities of a post 9/11 world where "Cities fell in stacks and men jumped from buildings" and there are many references to nature and loss and how the creep of consumerism - with its "80 different stores and coffee shops" - is destroying an America that not just the political right can lay claim to.
Aside from one misfire, the dirgy "Enough", this is a consistent and sometimes playful album that does an interesting thing: it seeks to reclaim a genre that many would characterize as "redneck" or right-wing, mirroring the battle over the term "patriot" and what that means in reality. By rights this is not music that should necessarily travel well, but like all good folk music there are some basic truths that resonate wherever you are.
One of my favourite albums of 2006 so far.
Whilst we would always encourage you to buy albums through one of our partners, it would be remiss to point out that this album can be ordered for only $6.00 from No Idea Records or downloaded for free from the band themselves.
Defiance, Ohio webpage