Defiance, Ohio - The Great Depression (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Defiance, Ohio

The Great Depression (2006)

No Idea

If anything, one has to give Defiance, Ohio credit for originality. Despite the frequent comparisons they receive to current label-mates This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb or previous label-mates Ghost Mice, Defiance, Ohio have crafted their own distinct sound within the impressive American folk-punk movement.

The Indiana six-piece have been fairly prolific since they released a demo a mere three years ago. The Great Depression is their second full-length, but they've done a number of splits and have posted a great deal of material (including demos, live sets, full-length, and splits) for free download to fans.

When the band jumped ship from Plan-it-X Records to -- gas -- No Idea Records, some dumpster-divers screamed "sell out," but for the most part, the move made sense. No Idea is the current home of Plan-it-X vets This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb and was home to Against Me! for a number of years. Working with No Idea allowed the band access to better production and distribution as well as maintaining some sense of ideological compatibility.

So how does this album compare with 2004's Share What Ya' Got? If they received a handbag of cash to put towards recording costs, the money might have gotten lost along the way. Sure, the album sounds cleaner than previous efforts, but not so much that the term "over-produced" could even approach it. Sometimes the less-than-stellar production can be great, especially when they leave the more classy instruments such as the violin and cello with a less-polished sound than those instruments are traditionally provided. However, sometimes the drumming and vocals fade into the background a little too much, leaving it more apparent that the majority of the songs on the album seem to have been based around the violin and cello, rather than using them as backup. Without the violin and cello, songs like "Enough" would fall apart almost completely. Color me traditionalist, but I prefer my punk songs to be guitar-based.

The album's strongest area is the spirit it carries. Defiance, Ohio are champions of promoting the values needed to live a positive life -- being honest and critical of yourself and your motives. They seem to shout again and again that hey, you can live a better life -- we can lead better lives. They don't spend too much time crafting rally cries against "the system," instead, urging the listener to think about their political criticisms and apply them to their own lives, such as on "Enough:"

So with one hand in a fist, please keep one hand in the air
questioning 'what does all this have to do with me?'
Stop making something! Start making sense! (Can we stop making something until we start making sense?)
The spirit of the band also shines when it becomes evident that they really like making music. The Great Depression sounds like it was recorded as an impromptu reaction to boredom on a Friday night. With every member sharing vocal duties and contributing to the songwriting, Defiance, Ohio bring a great deal of variety into what could have been moments of boredom for the listener.

You can download the album for free from the band, but at only $6.00 on LP/CD from No Idea, it's a shame not to get the real deal.