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Is “Americana rock” a genre now? Well, that’s how the guys behind Independence 76 style themselves and I guess the echoes of, say, City of New Orleansthat float around this sprawling collection of rock styles probably gives the tag some validity.

The information available about these songs and this band is kind of sketchy and enigmatic, but let’s take what there is and go with this story: g. Eddison (who knows what that lower case “g” is all about) passed his thirtieth birthday in a Boston hotel room, disillusioned with himself and his government over his small role in the endless “war on terror”. Happening to latch onto the story of Pat Tillman, the ex-football star who volunteered for armed service after 9/11, Eddison’s discontent was crystallised by the story of this man killed on active service in Afghanistan. Initially, the Pentagon tried to assert that their poster boy had died in valorous engagement with the enemy but the truth was that he’d been killed by his own side. Realising that his time had come to express what he truly felt, to stand up for honesty and what he believed to be the truth, Eddison returned home to write these songs and get them down on record.

Understandably, there’s anger and urgency in this music, and there’s also an almost bewildering array of styles; 75 Seconds of Immolation serves as an introduction to the tale of Malachi Ritscher, who set himself on fire as a protest against the Iraq war, and features a drum solo that sounds like a marching band drummer boy having a prog rock moment. A spacey, psychedelic-era guitar sound appears more than once and there is a strong Pink Floyd feel to some of the quieter tunes: Burn Ban and Magpiein particular both echo the poignant melancholy of some key Floyd moments. On the other hand, the influence of Lou Reed looms large at times, as does that of 90s vintage REM. With all that going on, it could be a mess, but it sounds more like something of a tour de force; all those influences are united by a spirit of non-conformism, and I guess the USA needs non-conformists like never before. Hearing all these strands come together in the sound that Independence 76 make is really compelling – it certainly stirs the blood.

Magpie Parables is not all about anti-war protest by any means; Magpie, for instance, is a song for the child of a broken marriage, expressing sadness, even anger, at having to cope with this ruptured relationship.  I guess once the guy started exorcising ghosts by writing these songs, all sorts of things screamed to be written about. This album seems to stand outside any other music I’m aware of at the moment, as if it’s a one-off, and maybe it is – a set of songs that will be remembered as a sign of our particular times.


John Davy

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March 2018

Mary Gauthier
95 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
Ed Romanoff
89 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
Dean Owens
43 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
Marlon Williams
41 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans
Rod Picott
39 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
Vivian Leva
39 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
H.C McEntire
38 pts.
Merge Records
34 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
Alela Diane
32 pts.
Allpoints Believe
Ben Miller Band
32 pts.
Choke Cherry Tree
New West Records
The Lynnes
32 pts.
Heartbreak Song For The Radio
Adam James Sorensen
30 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
John Oates
27 pts.
Thirthy Tigers
Cameron Blake
26 pts.
Fear Not
Continental Song City/CRS
John Gorka
26 pts.
True In Time
Red House
I'm With Her
25 pts.
See You Around
Rounder Records
The Reverend Shawn Amos
22 pts.
Breaks it Down
Put Together Music
Beth Wimmer
21 pts.
Chris Smither
21 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
Dayna Kurtz
21 pts.
Here, Vol 2
Kismet Records
Joan Baez
20 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
Kacy & Clayton
20 pts.
The Siren’s Song
New West Records
Caleb Caudle
19 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
Ad Vanderveen
18 pts.
Denver Nevada
Ben Reel
18 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
Bruno Deneckere

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