Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I like music, and I like Defiance, Ohio.

This post was inspired by two things:
  1. The cover of the new Wired magazine (on newsstand, but not online)
  2. A band I recently discovered and want to talk about (Defiance, Ohio)
The Wired coverstory is about "the new age of music" or something like that...basically applying The Long Tail to music. They proclaim that the radio stations and record companies are history, and now the music industry will be driven by artists and fans. If I know Wired, then they are basically celebrating the end of the commercial system of culture monopoly, defined by superstars and enabled by the state: with legal monopolies (copyrights) and mass distribution systems (such as stadiums). (This system is just a state-sponsored transfer of wealth from regular folk to a bunch of millionaires, embodied in domestic law and foreign trade restrictions such as NAFTA and CAFTA, but that's another story.)

Anyway, the end of the monopoly system relies on the voluntary abandonment of copyright protections (see the Wired CD, IndyTV, and Defiance, Ohio's recording collection), and small scale distribution (i.e., the Internet, and Internet "radio stations" such as Indy.Tv and

Now let's talk about Defiance, Ohio (and please forgive any inaccuracies or misuse of terminology):

This is a folk-punk band from Ohio with six members, making music with drums, strings, and vocals. I particularly like their most recent album The Great Depression, which includes a range of songs: fun songs, angry songs, uplifting songs, introspective songs, and mellow songs--in both punk and folky styles.

They first caught my attention with Petty Problems, which really struck a chord with me. The opening verse is "In Columbus they were shopping on the first day, the first official day of war", which summoned a discomfort that I have had with how Americans have responded to the wars of the past few years. This introduced me to their lyrical style, which is both clever and meaningful.

Petty Problems also introduced me to their instrumental style, which contrasts the staccato of drums and plucked strings with the legato of bowed string instruments. I've been able to pick out three vocalists in their songs (two male, one female), who sometimes sing solo and sometimes in harmony. One male sings in a harsh "punk" manner, the other sings with a standard singing voice, and the female excels at singing in a folky style.

All three of these voices are on display in Oh, Susquehanna!, the second song that really caught my attention. I also really like two other songs lead by the folky female vocals: The New World Order and Lambs at the Slaughter.

So, check out Defiance, Ohio (their music is free). Also, take note that they are planning to play in Pittsburgh on September 12. I hope to make it to that show, but they haven't lined up a venue yet and I expect my schedule to be rather busy at that time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

RSI of the wrists

I'm developing RSI in my wrists, so I need to cut back on my computer use. Unfortunately, this blog (and related activities) will have to go until I work out something.