Wednesday, March 4, 2009

TVD First Date with | These United States

It could be that These United States' singular mission is to dispel the notion that Washington, DC has no character, nor soul, or grit amidst the starched white underbelly of its marbled column malaise. And if you've been paying attention, they're making waves all over the place with their much-hyphenated psych-folk-lit-pop-rock.

After releasing 2 albums and playing 200 shows in 2008 (!), These United States have a new release in the queue and head south to SXSW (selected via ye olde EPK at Sonicbids) for four days of showcases.

TVD dialed up (the sleep-deprived) Jesse Elliott (vocals, guitar) for a few bits, not on bitrates, but on that analog medium just before the boys hit the road for a tour that begins in Kentucky on 3/3 and ends in Kentucky on 4/11--with 29 dates in between...

"The past is not the past - it's never dead, you never forget it, you never can afford to, never should want to, not too badly, critical as it is to the present, and the present to the future. Vinyl has nothing to do with Sound for me - I'm a deaf shit, have been ever since I was a tiny kid with way too many ear infections in the first 2 years of his life. And my family always had bad speakers anyway. But my dad also had Disraeli Gears and Aqualung and a whole bunch of other works I'd never really fully understand til years later. Mom had Bookends, The Natch'l Blues, the other half of who I'd become. I didn't know anything about blues. I didn't know what young people were supposed to like, and weren't, who white people were supposed to be, and weren't, what I was supposed to think of Jethro Tull, and wasn't. Vinyls, early on, were the least mediated of all media experiences I'd had. There was no context, and that was magical, and that itself would become the context. They didn't come automatically attached to a website, and with them there was no feeling of keeping up, let alone getting ahead of the curve. Just getting lost. Just the infinite maze of the past, which, you know, who can do anything but just surrender to it? Some tracks I loved (still love), some bored me to tears, all of them I played, all the way through, because they were all connected. Not artistically, figuratively, conceptually - but literally, physically, temporally connected. Side one. Side two. Only two choices there - no skipping ahead or back - I couldn't stand the sound of a bad needle drop, so I rarely even tried. Don't like this song? Another one will be on in 4 minutes - relax, see the present through to its logical, if not necessarily yr own personal favorite, conclusion. By then, you prolly came back around to the sound you were cringing at originally anyway. The context became yr own life, and gradually, maybe months or years later, you saw how that connected to the larger musical community, the people you'd eventually discover who'd dropped the same needles on the same sides. Yr patience was rewarded, very viscerally, often in/with the face of another human being. This is the same old nostalgia everyone has about this listening experience, yeah? But that nostalgia has served a function now - artistically, commercially, communally. That collective vinyl-doting has brought something back, it seems - at least in a quiet way. That big collective silly sloppy dreamy-eyed siiiiigh has now served as not just a yearning, but as a very real Decision about who we were, who we still are, how we want the world. We just dragged the past right back into the present, where it should be, looking forward. I'm gonna give my kids a stack of vinyl - the good, the bad, the confusing - prolly not a huge stack, and with few essentials - I'm as broke as my parents were, and already half as deaf. But you don't need a lot with vinyl - there's so much in every Side. The future'll be theirs to get lost in."

These United States - Honor Amongst Thieves (Mp3)

1 comment:

- Eddie said...

such a killer group. I was so lucky to see them at last summer's ft reno gig with jukebox the ghost