October 11th, 2011
Release length: 59:03
Yes, United State clocks in at just over the fifty-nine minute mark, and is composed of sixteen tracks. Considering the amount of material on here, one can immediately start to worry that much of it may be filler, or of just a lower quality. This album definitely doesn’t have as strong an audio quality as you would expect, but it’s not necessarily something to push into that stream of thought. The whole effort sounds pretty clean, almost sterile at times, but not in a hi-fi production value. It sounds like a professional studio, but at the bare minimum recording standards for it. The guitars are there and have a slight distortion to them that has a bit of an edge, clashing in the right way against the clean vocals that are loudest part of the release. The bass is there too and you can pick up on it well. This instrument doesn’t quite come through too deep, but still makes an alright backing performance. The cymbals can sound a little muffled at some points, but for the most part they stand out at the proper level with the rest of the instruments. The same goes for the snares, but the bass kicks are pretty low in the mix despite the higher click to them.
The audio may seem a little bare bones, but in the end it does work for the release in some ways. United State presents a Southern Rock inspired sound with a more laid back environment. Many of the songs will bring up immediately references to acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd among many others, especially with “All My Wheels” which feels like it was heavily inspired by the track “Simply Kind of Man.” But that more mellow sound isn’t every single track here. The album kicks off with the harder “The Lord Came Down,” a catchy song that blends in some Rock melody with the style’s traditional attitude to make a solid impression the listener. The energy incorporated here, mixed with the Southern comfort of the band’s obvious roots, presenting an enjoyable song from start to finish. However, it’s these edgier tracks that do ultimately show the faults of the audio quality, not quite leaving the impact that it should. The same goes for “Know Yourself,” though this one does sound heavier thanks to the tighter chords during the faster sections, as well as a more dominant bass performance where it takes center stage instead of just casually following along with the guitars. There’s also that energetic kick to the song, which clearly enhances the more aggressive side of the band for this song, making this one of the strongest harder tracks to be offered on the release. “Your Song and Dance” is also a track worth checking out. This is another aggressive track, though it goes at a bit of a slower pace and feels like it’s building up to a dramatic conclusion that never really hits. While this is usually a bad thing, the music itself works well to keep the listener stressed and waiting, as if the band were restraining themselves in the same manner the lyrics seem to present a tense situation.
For as catchy as the heavier, or just generally harder hitting tracks are, you also have the slower tracks which are sometimes more intimate and emotional as they also are catchy. “Rotten as Hell” is a prime example of this, being an acoustic track that sounds good with the audio quality, as well as has the Southern Rock tone mixed with a strong Blues influence that can be felt in the chords, as well as the vocals. “Groups of 5” also has that sort of emotional tie to it, though not as strong or Blues driven. However, the more mellow yet somewhat harder sound of the song is enough to make anyone listening want to lay back with their favorite vice and just let the music carry them away. “The Cup and the Lip” is also worth taking note of. The song itself is just very catchy from start to finish with a great Southern Rock presence backing it up that feels more stylish than dirty of gritty Southern Rock in influence. But, the Blues element does kick back in pretty hard with “Travel Well (The Les Daniels Song)” which is just such a sad song, really capturing the emotion about a man, obviously Les Daniels, who has passed on. The acoustic performance packs plenty of emotion into a just under four-minute song that any fan of music simply must hear and feel moved by.
How do you top such an emotional track as “Travel Well (The Les Daniels Song)?” Why, throw in an AC/DC cover! “What You Do for Money” appears on this release, and it does have the band’s more mellow approach to it with a slightly more energetic vocal performance behind it. It’s not the greatest cover, but the band still does a good job of it, though not really making it a song you’d choose over the original in any stretch of mind. The placement of it also seems a little odd considering the previous track, and the following “Glory Days,” another acoustic piece that has a slightly more upbeat, and stronger Southern backing to it that fits better with the flow between the songs then “What you Do for Money Honey” does.
Even though United State is nearly an hour in length, Brand New Sin do a good job at keeping all sixteen tracks enjoyable. Even the less intriguing tracks on here still give off a solid performance that you can walk out of saying it wasn’t bad and be open to experiencing again at some later point. The mixture of the group’s Southern Rock sound with some Blues elements really works for them with this release, and while it’s not the most unique thing, it really leads to some strong material. There are tracks that can play on your emotions, harder hitting songs with a slightly aggressive edge, to just mellow songs you’ll want to kick back and experience. If you’re a fan of Rock in any form, then there’s really no reason United State should be overlooked. Aside the AC/DC cover’s placement and the audio quality issues with the heavier songs, it’s an album with few faults you’ll get a lot of play time with in the near and distant future.
01. The Lord Came Down – 3:09
02. Know Yourself – 2:56
03. All My Wheels – 3:48
04. Rotten as Hell – 3:39
05. Elbow Grease – 3:09
06. Infamous – 3:13
07. Groups of 5 – 5:22
08. Your Song and Dance – 3:20
09. Goddess of War – 4:03
10. The Cup and the Lip – 3:39
11. Bed of Nails – 4:02
12. Travel Well (The Les Daniels Song) – 3:54
13. What You Do for Money Honey (AC/DC cover) – 3:44
14. Glory Days – 4:03
15. Sad Wings (Acoustic 2011) – 2:51
16. The Wizard – 4:10
|Overall Score: 8.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Goomba Music via Clawhammer PR.