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Everything Touches Everything

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Album Review

There's a significant difference between naturally being eccentric and trying to seem eccentric, and the stress and strain involved in the latter pursuit tends to show after a while. The five musicians in the band These United States would seem to fall into the latter category as musicians trying to convince their audience they're quirkier than they really are, but they're good enough at pretending to be weirdos that much of the time they sound perfectly comfortable spouting the pseudo-psychedelic foolishness that passes for lyrics on their third album, Everything Touches Everything. The group also sounds tight and intuitive enough that their music reveals a welcome natural strength and a scrappy enthusiasm, especially on the angular, uptempo pop number "I Want You to Keep Everything," the clean and melodic folk rock workout "The Secret Door," and the graceful melodic lines of "Good Bones." But when the band tries to marry their loopy lyrics to some off-kilter music, they tip their hand to how hard they're trying, and they make uncomfortably clear that they're pretending to be Mad Hatters but would rather be sitting at home watching Cheers reruns. "Night and the Revolution" reveals some credible rock gestures in its last minutes, but the band takes so long to get there it barely matters, "I'm Gonna Assemble a City" resembles a Neil Young outtake without the slightest hint at Young's natural élan, and "Good Night Wish" seemingly takes forever (actually just seven-and-three-quarters minutes, but it feels longer) to bring this album to a close. Instead of trying to make like acid-addled hippies, a persona that doesn't quite fit them, it's not hard to wish These United States would regroup as a smart country rock band capable of some clever pop gestures; it would make for a more valuable use of their time than this album's "let's pretend" psychedelic visions.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Combining Devendra Banhart's "new weird American" eccentricity, Flaming Lips-influenced electronic bells and whistles, and a Wilco-esque twanginess, These United States create a musical melting pot that blends together a wide array of influences. Born of a collaboration between Jesse Elliott and David Strackany (the man behind Paleo), These United States put together the songs that would become their debut LP in 2007. The resulting album, A Picture...
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Everything Touches Everything, These United States
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