Defiance Ohio: Midwestern Minutes Review

Defiance Ohio is a challenging band.

How else can I describe a group of musicians that make me feel at times guilty, angry, indignant, inspired, and entertained?  I’m a bleeding heart liberal, who also happens to like pro sports and new shoes.  I’ll certainly do more to make the world a better place…as soon as I finish playing these video games.  So how do I rectify my liberal guilt when listening to an anti-capitalist collective of acoustic/punk/folk buskers telling me to be wary of greed and politicians?  Should I feel bad for my initial distaste over a group of musicians telling me how to make the world better while seemingly collecting a paycheck for doing what they love, only to find out that they actually offer all of their music absolutely for free via their website , write songs for mental health charities, and actually give their time to the causes they support?  In a world where putting a colored ribbon on your twitter icon counts for many people as doing something for the greater good, can it be possible that my jaded 32 year old aging punk heart can make room for a band like Defiance Ohio, who wear their own heart so blatantly on their sleeves?  Would they be angered if I said their music exists between the child-like-folk-hipster-optimism of the Arcade Fire and the aggressive-uber-message songs of legendary punk protesters Propagandhi?  And what does it say about me that my favorite song on their newest album Midwestern Minutes is a short ditty called Diamonds Theme Song that turns out apparently to be a satirical jab at sitcoms and the diamond industry.

In the end, I think my twisted inner monologue is exactly the result that Defiance Ohio strives for.  They pose questions, not answers, and they do it well.  Midwestern Minutes clocks in at under 30 minutes, and there is a lot to like here.  The album is a little less bombastic than their previous effort, The Great Depression, but the restraint allows them to showcase more layers of their talent.

Here they perform Hairpool, a track off of Midwestern Minutes.

I do miss more female vocals that were featured more prominently on their earlier releases, but that aside Midwestern Minutes stands as a shining example of  passionate independent music.  High concept songs like Floodwaters and Her Majesty’s Midwestern Islands reside satisfyingly next to extremely personal songs like Hairpool and You Are Loved.  The short runtime leaves me consistently ready for a replay, but the album still feels very complete.

Midwestern Minutes, in addition to their other works, pushes Defiance Ohio into my pantheon of  Roy, Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves, and Jim Ward of contemporary musicians that blend punk sensibilities with country and folk influences. At the risk of sounding indignant, I’ll applaud their dedication to the causes that matter to them, putting their art to good use.   Now I’m going to go try to do something with my life.

A must listen is Flood Waters, the opening song on Midwestern Minutes.

– This review was submitted by Joey Hall, producer of Interference “a kayak surf film
Joey is also partly responsible for an indie/alt/comedy podcast called I Only Like Their Old Stuff, which is absolutely worth checking out.

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