On the Verge: These United States

These United States stopped by the WERS studios as they kicked off their summer tour to support the release of their fifth album last week. For the live set, front man Jesse Elliot took lead vocals, Tom Hnatow on piano, Justin Craig and Anna Morsett on guitar, and Aaron Latos on percussion. The band’s latest and self-titled release came out on June 12 under United Interests.

In high spirits, the group was ready to get started as this was one of their first opportunities to try playing new songs in a live acoustic set. Starting off the set was “Miss Underground” from the self-titled album, beginning with a gentle beat provided by Latos. Elliot’s vocals flow hand in hand with the guitar melody as he echoes, “is it my imagination or do all the glowing street lamps light me?”

Elliot explained that the album was self-titled this time around because the band’s name really matched the recording process on the record. Bits and pieces of the album were recorded all over the country throughout last year and feature over twenty different collaborators. The list includes Ben Sollee, John McCauley of Deer Tick, Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent, David Moore of Langhorne Slim, Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds, and many more.

“That’s what the album is about I think more than anything else we’ve done,” Elliot said. “It’s about places and people and the kind of landscape of this big and strange continent that we live on and so it just seemed really fitting that was the common thread running through it all.”

As a result of the wide range of places and people involved, the sound is definitely diverse. This album is a melting pot of rock, psych pop, folk, a little bit of country, and a lot of Americana in between. Somehow These United States managed to pull it all together on the album and carefully weave all of the sounds and stories involved together.

Next up was a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Me and Paul.” Paying tribute to the great country icon, the band really livened up and let their personalities show during this track with enthusiastic clapping from Elliot as he sang and exchanged laughs with Morsett between verses. Early next week in Connecticut, the band will be filling an opening slot for Nelson. “He seems like a very promising song writer on the scene,” Elliot joked – there is no doubt the whole group is psyched for the opportunity.

Closing the set was an acoustic rendition of “I Want You To Keep Everything” off of their 2009 release Everything Changes Everything.

With five studio albums under their belts in just six short years, it’s clear that These United States are here to stay in the realm of Americana. The summer is young for the band with a nationwide tour; who knows what new places and people along the way may inspire new material for the next album.

By Jeeyoon Kim

If you liked this, check out:
On the Verge: Justin Jones
On the Verge: Lisa Hannigan

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