The Independents - Into The Light (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Independents

Into The Light (2014)

Suki Records

The Independents are sometimes referred to as Joey Ramone's favorite band. He was an early champion of the group and produced some of their first recordings. He also managed the band until his death in 2001. You'd think a ringing endorsement from Joey Ramone would give a group credibility for life, but like a lot of veteran acts, The Independents had to turn to crowd sourcing to fund their new LP.

The Independents are from South Carolina and have been playing their unusual style of punk since 1992. The sound is a strange combination of the horror—punk of early Misfits and the goth—punk of The Damned, mixed with 50's rock 'n' roll and third wave ska. It might seem like a disaster on paper, but in reality it works really well. It's like the soundtrack to an old fashioned black and white horror movie.

The Independents' sound is the creation of founding members Evil Presly and Willy B. Most of Presly's singing is done in an Elvis—like croon, but he is also capable of a raspy growl or even a full throated shout. Willy B's guitar sounds range from crunchy classic rock style riffs to upstroked ska to ripping leads and solos to quiet acoustic picking. Willy B's versatility is on full display here.

Into The Light is a well crafted collection of songs, and the recording sounds great. The dark thread of death runs throughout the record, even while musically many of the songs are quite poppy. "Corpses in the Rain", "Sound of an Angel's Wings" and "Broken" are catchy enough to have commercial appeal, if it wasn't for the macabre subject matter. "Baby Mine" and "Until" are pretty much straight up (slightly twisted) love songs. "Walk Away", "I've Waited" and "Black Angel" are strong tracks that make me wonder if this is what Danzig would sound like if he hadn't gone metal.

"Tsantsa Twist" might be The Independents' stab at creating a "Monster Mash" style dance craze. "So Depressing" laments the loss of friends and musical inspirations. The only ska song on the album, "Never Let It Go", doesn't show up until the 12th track. That's OK with me , as I have never really been a fan of that aspect of the band's sound. The record ends with the title track, an acoustic song that packs a powerful emotional wallop.

Into The Light is an excellent addition to The Independents' body of work. After more than 20 years as a band, they have made one of their strongest albums to date. Despite its dark subject matter, it is an enjoyable listen from start to finish. It's more Munsters than Silence of the Lambs, and definitely recommended listening this Halloween season.