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Under the name Pocket Hercules, River Donaghey recruited a large group of his friends in Eugene, Oregon to record their debut, New Freedom Fighter's Manual. The album covers genres from math to baroque pop to garage rock, but Donaghey summarizes the sound flippantly as “post-indie rock.” It is easy to see where the band's varied sound comes from: their website lists everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Guided By Voices to Ernest Hemingway and Ben Franklin as some of their influences.
The core of Pocket Hercules is made up of Donaghey on guitar and vocals, Rowan Tabor on stand-up bass, and Britt Brady on drums and backing vocals. The album, along with the band's stage shows, involve a rotating cast of friends playing everything from viola to accordion to the trumpet.
The songs are musically complex, but it is their lyrics which really stand out. New Freedom Fighter's Manual is full of honest and poignant stories about love, dysfunction, and becoming an adult in today's America.
The debut album was originally conceived as a stage musical in Fall of 2009, while Donaghey was attending the University of Oregon. He dropped out to pursue the project, which, a year later, has evolved into an interconnected album and novella, which Donaghey refers to as “the Novblem.”