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CD REVIEW: Independence 76 - Magpie Parables
By Cyrus Rhodes - 02/29/2012 - 04:37 PM EST

Artist: Band: Independence 76
Album: Magpie Parables
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Alternative Rock
Sounds Like: Dinosaur Jr, R.E.M. Blind Mellon, Greatful Dead
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 6/10
Overall Talent Level: 6/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: Sundance Squares, The Epic of Pat Tillman and I
Weakness: Substandard production quality, amateurish Mix and Master, Marketability.
CD Review:

Oklahoma City’s own “Independence 76” releases their debut album entitled Magpie Parables in 2012.  Band members include G. Edison, John Cody, Nathan Eicher, James Spalding, Ivan Pierce, Marlon Carbone, Tyler Burns and M Lee Wells.

The CD kicks things off with “Sundance Squares” a peaceful intro piece that serves up acoustic rock groove that provides upbeat Americana rock vibe against driving rock rhythm meshed with an infectious bluesy-rock melody that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2 “Kickapoo Riffraff” dishes out yet another solid track with its passionate, heartfelt vocal delivery by Eddison, solid bluesy rock ditty and impressive lyrical content. Track 3 “For Worse” keeps things moving in the right direction with its rock steady groove, thought provoking lyrics and a grand slam chorus. As the CD unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Counting Crows, R.E.M. Grateful Dead, Dinosaur Jr, Blind Mellon and even Blues Traveler to Pearl Jam. Right from the start you will notice Eddison and company feel quite comfortable just letting it all hang out musically, not holding anything back. The CD is comparable to a faded pair of Blue Jeans. The overall musical vibe has a nice bluesy-rock, raw indie feel to it. The bands playing is rock solid across the board as they dish out impressive bluesy guitar licks, rock solid rhythm guitar playing and a few acoustic chops that will make your head spin. Eddison’s voice goes down smooth, full of passion and recklessness abandon. The musicianship from all the other members in the band is above the bar and has everything you would expect from the 4 piece standard. Eddison clearly makes the (singer to listener) vocal connection with his singing. The songs themselves are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair, and signature groove in classic Jam Band fashion. From striking Justifiable Homicide” and “Burn Ban” to compelling “The Epic of Pat Tillman and I” to upbeat “Malachi 11:3” to rocking Eminent Domain” (Side B) to dynamic “12 June” to heartfelt “Mending” and Summersaults Into fall” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Magpie” the perfect finale statement. There’s even an old school drum solo: Track 6: 75 Seconds of Immolation.”

This CD is not without a few notable weaknesses. Despite the truly awesome performances, it’s fair to say there is something odd going on with this production. Zeroing in on the recording, mixing and mastering – I suspect it’s the mixing. It’s pretty all over the place  - from vocals sound disproportionate to the music, to odd sounding harmonies, to awkward low end frequencies– this mix has all the trademarks of a basement band mix job. It clearly doesn’t compare to other “Gold Standard” production within the genera and I might add if the mix was industry standard this CD would clearly be a 9 or 10 on a 10 scale. Mixing will always be the biggest make or break for any production. When done right will leave a lasting impression, when not done right will stick out like a sore thumb. Each phase of the production process (recording, mixing, mastering) must be handled by a separate musical professional.  I fully realize this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD’s overall marketability.

Magpie Parables by Independence 76 is a solid debut statement. Song for song, note for note it has a feel good groove to it. It’s strong suit – the song for song rock solid consistency and impressive songs. If “Independence 76” has a slam dunk live presentation then that would make a pretty lethal combination. No doubt they are a lot of fun to check out livearound OK City. So if you like college alternative rock that dishes out bluesy type ditties reminiscent of Blind Mellon, Counting Crows, R.E.M. and Grateful Dead then you should jump into this CD head first.

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