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http://independence76.com

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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September 2018

1
The Devil Makes Three
70 pts.
Chains Are Broken
New West
FC,JB,RK,TJ,LK
2
Jimmy LaFave
65 pts.
Peace Town
Music Road Records
PKO
3
Malcolm Holcombe
48 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
FB,JBO
4
Cody Canada & the Departed
47 pts.
3
Blue Rose Records
CVL,DHO
5
Jeffrey Foucault
43 pts.
Blood Brothers
Blueblade Records
MB,SZ
6
The War And Treaty
42 pts.
Healing Tide
Thirty Tigers
FCE,AL,MG
7
Martha Fields
40 pts.
Dancing Shadows
Independent
SP,DH,RST,RW
8
The Weight Band
35 pts.
World Gone Mad
Must Have Music
DD,CRS,BM
9
David Olney
32 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music
LM
 
The Black Sorrows
32 pts.
Citizen John
Blue Rose Records
 
11
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis
31 pts.
Wild Wild Wild
Bloodshot Records
GS
12
Hadley McCall Thackston
28 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
 
 
Nathan Bell
28 pts.
Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth
Angry Stick
PK
14
Curse Of Lono
26 pts.
As I Fell
Submarine Cat Records
MM,JF
15
Ryan Martin
25 pts.
Gimme Some Light
High Moon
 
 
Stephen Simmons
25 pts.
Gall
Locke Creek Records
TK,HDB
17
Jason McNiff
23 pts.
Joy And Independence
At The Helm Records
 
 
Jim Lauderdale
23 pts.
Time Flies
Yep Roc
 
 
Kevin Gordon
23 pts.
Tilt and Shine
Crowville Media
MP
20
Eliza Gilkyson
21 pts.
Secularia
Red House Records
KG,JJC
21
Boz Scaggs
20 pts.
Out Of the Blues
Concord Records
BH,JSM
 
Lucero
20 pts.
Among The Ghosts
Thirty Tigers
JJ
 
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
20 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
MW
24
The Jayhawks
17 pts.
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Legacy
 
25
Lori McKenna
16 pts.
Tree
Cn Records

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