Album no. 121/1001
The United States of America were one of the first bands to start experimenting with mostly electronic instruments – but they also broke up about 3 months after the album was released, so make of that what you will.
They considered themselves an avant-garde band that had some pretty strong political ideas – one of the founders was a staunch communist. They were certainly experimental and couldn’t afford a typical Moog synthesiser (they were about $20,000 at the time) so they made do with some other electronic bits and pieces.
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: All I can think of when I see this is that classic 2003 song ‘United States of Whatever’. I don’t imagine they’re related.
NK: I am sort of familiar with The Presidents of the United States (millions of peaches) but I’ve never heard of this mob.
CL: Luckily I did a bit of research before listening to this, so I was sort of prepared for the weird, stitched together nature of their music. ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ is great! There are some definite bangers here – ‘Hard Coming Love’ and ‘Coming Soon’ are super good. I think they make up for the not so good songs.
NK: ‘Stranded in time’ isn’t bad, although it does sound like a knock-off of The Beatles doing ‘A Day In The Life’. This was a bit of a weird album. I think we’ve heard a lot of the bands who influenced them. The screeching guitar/organ is very Velvet Underground, ‘Hard Coming Love’ sounds like a less good Jefferson Airplane, ‘Where Is Yesterday’ has some medieval-style chanting at the start a la Donovan and Tim Buckley. So there are a lot of influences here. But it didn’t help me enjoy it.
CL: There’s definitely that Jefferson Airplane feel, but I’d say they sound a hundred times better than the original band. Sorry guys. (Not really, you should’ve been better). I do agree that ‘Where Is Yesterday’ is a bit of a slow starter, but I think it just builds up to this creepy crescendo – I liked it!
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: There’s definitely a lot of ups and downs – I can’t fault it for being one tone the whole way through – but I’d be wary of the sudden changes. Like, you know when you listen to music and one song’s really quiet so you turn it up really loud to hear it, then the next song sort of bursts your eardrum because it’s inherently louder? That’s sort of like this.
NK: I found listening to this album really weird. I made a graph of what I noticed:
So if that sounds like your jam, get into it.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: I think this is actually really good. You’re being a bit harsh.
NK: If this had come out before any of the bands mentioned above I would understand it. I think the use of synthesiser and effects was quite groundbreaking, but it does not sound groundbreaking. It sounds like they’re copying what other people have done, but not doing it quite as well.
CL: I sort of get what you’re saying about sounding like other people – mainly just Jefferson Airplane – but I enjoyed this WAY more than them. I think this sounds so much more innovative and exciting. I mean, obviously there were some dud tracks, but I don’t think it’s unlistenable like you’re making out.
Will you be listening again?
CL: Yeah mate, I will. I liked this!
Unfortunately, you can’t listen to The United States of America on Spotify but you can hear it on YouTube.