The DC music scene used to be known mostly for its punk in the 90’s, and only those familiar with the city know just how much things have changed. Up and coming bands like These United States are proof to all those skeptics out there that the DC scene is in no way, shape or form like it used to be.
The band’s debut album, A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden (as used herein, “the album”), deserves your immediate attention. Their soulful alternative, folk album will bring to mind the likes of M. Ward, Devendra Banhart, and Okkervil River. I have listened through “the album” a few dozen times, and only love it more and more upon each spin.
I dig the short Preface at the beginning of “the album;” it starts out almost as spoken word and gets the listener ready to jump into the deep end, with “First Sight,” and “Kings and Acres,” among the most solid tracks on “the album.” I can’t stop listening to “Burn this Bridge.” The African influenced drumbeat is awesome, and the passion in Elliott’s voice makes it one of the most uplifting songs I have heard in a long time. I can listen to every track between “Diving Boards Pointed at the Sky” and “Slow Crows Over” over and over again. They are all fantastic. You really can’t go wrong with any song on “the album.” The instrumentals scattered across A Picture of…”the album” are sometimes so passive that each listen differs slightly from the previous one.
Jesse Elliott, the lead singer behind These United States is one of the coolest cats you’ll come across. I met up with him a month or two ago, and quickly got a feel for his diversified background. He is creative, funny, and genuinely interested in those around him. I could tell from my modest conversation with him that he knows lots of people in lots of places, which, of course, makes sense after hearing that over 30 musicians from Chicago and DC helped out with “the album.” Just check out the pics on the TUS blog; I feel like you can get a vibe for what kind of guy Elliott is.
David Strackany, aka Paleo, is part of These United States, and may be best known for his 365 songs in 365 days project. Another admirable thing TUS currently has going on is a 33 day US tour where they play with a different local band in every city they hit (a highlight for me is that they are playing with Bon Iver). That’s the creativeness I’m talking aboutâ€” getting that schedule together couldn’t have been as easy task. These United States’ innovative music is that much more innovative after you check out their site, myspace, and blog; I haven’t found one band that has managed themselves this well.Â Check to see if they are touring near you, I can’t wait for their return show at the Black Cat on April 13th.