Defiance, Ohio are a band that over time turned into one of the icons of underground folk/punk scene. Sadly, since the release of Midwestern Minutes in 2010 they didn't put out another full–length album, instead publishing a digital EP in the summer of 2012.
Even though there is an aura of DIY–style throughout the record, it can be immediately heard that the sound has improved in comparison to Midwestern Minutes. Overall it's cleaner and the instruments are arranged in a neater manner without losing any of the charm the band has exhibited in the olden times, which is extremely fortunate in the days of cookie–cutter indie folk musicians.
The title track starts off slow, building up to the shouted chorus and not letting go of the postive energy until the very end. Rather typical for the Defiance, Ohio in terms of topic – a need of moving on with life and not giving in to cozy stagnancy, it's well executed and lacks none of the passion of previous releases.
Next up is "I'm Against The Government", a wonderful, catchy (you guessed it!) anti–government gem of a folk–punk tune. Despite being a political statement, it keeps the innocence for which the band is known, it's by no means an agressive song, rather a protest song written by people who genuinely are tired and disappointed with status quo.
Kicking off with a somewhat unusual riff for the band, muddy intro of "Call It A Comeback" gives way to very energetic chorus and lighter second verse, turning from a heavier than normally tune to a catchy pop–punk track. Taking on a topic of being unable to break away from tiredness and having to find a meaning in life, it's an uplifting, heartfelt song, likes of which fans of Defiance, Ohio are accustomed to.
The two last tracks (exluding the bonus – a rendition of one of their earliest songs) are the two most unique on the release. "Horizon Lines, Volume And Infinity" with its remarkable lyrics and subtle piano is not only the standout on "The Calling", it might also be considered one of their best songs up to date, even if some might call it formulaic. But despite the simple structure, every single piece perfectly fits in with the rest, which gives a memorable story about understanding what's important in life.
"Bad Ideas" is something that could be easily a part of any other Defiance, Ohio album – driven by acoustic guitar, with other instruments gradually added along the way, song about uncertainty, which stays with the listener well past the time it's over. Not the most energetic track on the release, it stands out thanks to calmer sound, bringing to mind likes of "Everyone Else On The Other Side" or even "Road Signs Look Better Looking Over Your Shoulder" – a piece of a thoughtful acoustic tune, writing of which the good folks of Defiance, Ohio have perfected over the years.
The release ends with "I'm Just Gonna Leave Now", an updated version of their classic off of "Share What Ya Got". It's, obviously, more mature than the version from eleven years ago, with added electric guitar track and sounding better than ever. A proof of band's evolution, it perfectly fits in with the rest of songs on this record and doesn't feel like just a bonus thrown in to make the release longer or appeal to their older fans.
The Calling might be just an EP, but it is a solid effort of Defiance, Ohio. They have changed, matured and their sound evolved over the years, but their spirit, charm and honesty are just the same as they were all this time ago. Heartfelt, well–executed and done in DIY ethics, what is there not to like–