Music Review: Defiance, Ohio's The Fear, the Fear, the Fear

by Vincent Lee
Special to iVoryTowerz

In the midst of an era where the downloading of music is being punished at every turn, a few bands emerge to go against the tide. Some bands such as The Flaming Lips and Wilco have taken novel approaches such as offering their music online before it was officially released. Radiohead has offered the latest unique attempt; by allowing their customers to pick what price they will pay for the album. (Most decided not to give the band anything for the release. To read more on this topic, please see: "What Did You Pay for that Radiohead Download?") However, even before Radiohead there was Defiance, Ohio. Since this folk punk band’s creation, they have offered their music online for free download.

Named after a real town in Ohio, this small group is on the verge of releasing their third full-length album, The Fear, the Fear, the Fear (set for official release tomorrow, Dec. 4th, on No Idea Records). The stand-out tracks on this new release include "Eureka!" and "The List."

Two full-length albums and a few splits preceded this album. Touring and producing music on a do-it-yourself ethic, Defiance, Ohio does not, and probably never will, have comparable success to that of Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, or Wilco. Nonetheless, a lack of commercial success should not be a deterrent.

Defiance, Ohio could be considered folk punk (the band is actually from Bloomington, Indiana, but is now based in Ohio), reminiscent in many ways of The Pogues. They are a six-piece band where all the members sing. The instruments range from acoustic guitar, cello, drums, upright bass, and violin. This very odd combination is a big part of the character of the band. The strings help aid in the folk character, but are also used as punk instruments. Musically, nearly all the songs are less than four minutes. This is not to say the songs are just your typical Ramones-style punk single-riff-driven music. Several of the songs change dynamically from slow to fast and vice versa with great flair. The lyrics are where the folk influence shines brightest. Using wonderful imagery and story telling Defiance's lyrics rank among the best in the past decade. Beyond the lyrical and musical depth, what really drives this band is their energy. Nothing has gotten them a stronger following than their intense and energy-filled shows.

Both ethically and musically, Defiance, Ohio is something different and unique. It is refreshing to see bands spread music without money-intensive wants, while so called punk bands like Against Me! sell out. Beyond the impressive character of the band, the music is what really matters. The length, of all of their music released so far is around two hours, which may trouble some, but the pure quality will leave many craving more.

(Photo of some of the band members in Defiance, Ohio © copyright Zomarneu; the copyright holder allows re-use with the appropriate credit. The band will begin a world tour in January, 2008. To see a video of Defiance, Ohio performing "Chad's Favorite Song" from the band's earlier release Share What You Got, please check below.)

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Anonymous said...

they are not from bloomington in. they are from different places, met in columbus, oh, and now live in bloomington.

mersault said...

Oh yeah, thats a very nice review, thank you!

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