Sound check: Bands prove DIY ethic, raw talent alive and well
There is an anarcho-folk act evoking a do-it-yourself spirit with passionate shows and even wilder audiences. A band barely on the musical radar is playing shows to packed crowds of fans singing along to every song. Sound familiar? If your guess is Against Me! circa 1997, guess again.
Defiance, Ohio features guitar, drums, double bass, violin, cello and male and female vocalists. The band is politically involved and motivated like its activist forefathers of folk, while at the same time maintaining a punk-rock work ethic.
Defiance, Ohio plays a brilliant blend of stripped down, folk-rock played fast and raw. Songs like "Old Dead Tree," "Tanks! Tanks! Tanks!" "Never Forget, Ever" and the anthem, "Bikes and Bridges" are every much as inspiring as the methods behind the music. Defiance, Ohio’s music is accessible to all, as the band openly links from its official Web site to popular downloading sites such as BitTorrent to download its songs.
So let’s get this straight. There is a band with a rabid, cult-like following making some of the most innovative music around today that is proud to give it away for free. What’s the catch?
There is none.
Defiance, Ohio is the real deal.
The Banner Pilot
Remember when indie rock was truly independent musicians forming garage bands? Bands were average Joes who looked like you and me, not some pretty boys who get signed because of how many friends they have on MySpace. Minneapolis’ The Banner Pilot has been playing a brand of punk similar to bands like Jawbreaker and fellow Minnesotans, Dillinger Four.
Resignation Day is a fine follow up to 2006’s Pass the Poison. The Banner Pilot isn’t reinventing the wheel with its sound; it is simply keeping that wheel rolling. It’s only a matter of time before these kids get picked up by bigger, touring bands. Fat Wreck Chords would be a good fit for the band, whose sound would go nicely sandwiched between The Loved Ones and Smoke or Fire.
It’s a rare to find an artist with a side project that is 100 percent more pleasing than his or her original endeavor. Wolftron, whose name suggests yet another electronic band for the hipster masses, is actually acoustic-driven indie rock that has its fair share of electronic flourishes.
The sole member, Kenny Choi, is also the lead singer of Daphne Loves Derby, a band not nearly as satisfying as Wolftron. It’s hard to avoid the "emo" tag for this one, but Choi evokes a lot of emotion through the 12 songs found on the album Flesh and Fears. The songwriting is more inspired and sophisticated than what you would find on any given Daphne Loves Derby album.
Just in case there hasn’t been enough clich’eacute; here, Wolftron has created a cinematic soundtrack that is cohesive and versatile, and can be reserved for those coffee-centric fall evenings or those late summer nights. And, for the record, there are happy songs on the album. www.myspace.com/wolftron
The Reign of Kindo
The Reign of Kindo came to fruition after This Day and Age, a melodic rock band, bit the dust. After their singer left to pursue other musical interests, the remaining members decided it would be a good idea to create a new band. Great choice. Not only is The Reign of Kindo much better, but its members are almost too talented for their own good.
Fusing classic jazz with modern rock is never an easy task, but this Buffalo, N.Y. quintet seem to have no problem creating masterpieces such as its recently released Rhythm, Chord and Melody, the group’s debut album. On it, you will find five of the more talented musicians in a relatively unappreciative music scene. The intricacies found within The Reign of Kindo are unparalleled by most, and the group’s tribute to classic composition and music theory will more than likely go over the average listener’s head. But if you feel the need to enlighten yourself with true talent, then this is definitely the band to watch. www.myspace.com/thereignofkindo