Artist: The United States of America
Album: The United States of America
Genre: Art Rock / Psychedelic Rock
“We shall shortly institute
A syncopation of fear
While it’s painful, it will suit
Many customers whose appetites are queer
Or for those who wish to pay
There are children you can bleed
In a most peculiar way
We can give you all the instruments you’ll need
And the price is right
The cost of one admission is your mind”
I am back from another long hiatus. This seems to happen to me quite often, but can you blame me? I’m an adult with a busy schedule and sometime other things take priority in my life over writing this blog. Shame though, because I listened to this album three weeks ago and barely remember it coming to sit down and write about it. I mean, I could have always listened to it again but I already listened to it three times and I felt any more would just be overkill at this point. Plus, I’m about 5 albums ahead, I decided to just keep listening because… you know, fuck it, why not. Might as well crank this one out and just move on with it.
It’s a short lived band that only had one album and the band broke up immediately after because they all couldn’t get along. Seems to be pretty common amongst bands. I always wonder… how did they get together in the first place when there were so many tensions in the band? Were they great friends first and the battles commenced once production started? Were they individuals who all saw the talent within each other but didn’t realise they’d butt heads so much once they began? It’s such an interesting phenomenon to see groups that do work together but then you realise how much shit was happening behind the scenes. At least this one disbanded immediately, some groups stay together for years and years. I guess props to them for sticking it out so long for the sake of the music (and the fans I guess). It just seems no one could agree on which direction to take the band as individual members tried to pull it this way and that and others got fed up of certain members getting more attention than others… ego, that’s what’ll do it. Either way, they produced one album that basically sold poorly and disappeared from existence, yet somehow managed to keep a legacy and high critical acclaim. Is it really the gem it’s made out to be? (I’m honestly not the right person to answer this question but whatever, I’ll do what I do best… be irrelevant).
Originally I thought this band had a stupid name with a stupid album cover. Like come on, United States of America? Really? Either you are way beyond patriotic or you have a severe lack of originality. Like what are you supposed to evoke with this type of band name? Very American music? Didn’t sound that way, except for maybe excerpts here and there, but those were few and far between. That album cover too… just a circle with the bandmates… cool, a lot of thought went into that one. I especially like how the bassist looks like Rainn Wilson, that gave me a good laugh for five minutes. I’m being hyperbolic of course, I don’t find it that dumb, plus my friend Graham convinced me that it’s a pretty cool cover since we rarely get to see the band working behind the scenes. So basically this entire paragraph I just wrote is entirely useless and should be ignored.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have much to say about this album and I’m looking for anyway to fill up space. I mean, it’s an experimental art rock, psychedelic album. I’ve been over saturated with them and this is not much of an exception to what I’ve been hearing. To be fair, their sound is definitely unique to them and they were trying new things with the genre. The use of synthesizers makes a big debut in music here and they seemingly are one of the first bands to experiment with it’s sounds as a prominent feature in the music. Lacking is a guitarist, which I think is pretty cool. I would have never known if I hadn’t read about that. Guitars are a main focus in psychedelic rock and it’s complete absent here, so I have to give the band credit for experimenting with new things and creating an original piece of work. It’s evident there’s a lot of talent thrown into this album and it pays off in the end… if you like this sort of thing.
In a lot of ways I can see this as a hidden gem in music history but at the same time I can see people being turned off by it. Not everyone is into the sounds of art rock and experimentation and it does take a certain level of music appreciation to really appreciate what’s being done here. Personally, not my thing and would probably skip in the future but I wouldn’t pass it up as a recommendation for lovers of the genre. It would definitely be a new discovery beyond the usual psych stuff and a fun little obscure piece of music to keep in your back pocket to pull out when you want to sound pretentious.
At one point the band says “We’ll have a good time” and I ask myself the question, Did I have a good time?
Song of choice: Where is Yesterday