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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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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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