Jesse Elliott, who shares DNA with Johnny Appleseed, pursued a variety of ventures — international human rights law, economics writing, community non-profits, deli service — before returning to songwriting, his first and best love.
Pastrami-on-rye and human rights’ loss was our gain, as Elliott formed These United States and embarked on a sonic mission to craft complex and engaging story-songs set to a soundtrack that somehow touches on a dozen different contemporary musical styles (and thematically references every state in the union) while remaining completely coherent and consistent.
On their eponymous fifth album, Elliott, his TUS cohorts (Tom Hnatow, Justin Craig, Robby Cosenza) and a coterie of cool guests, including Deer Tick’s John McCauley, Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck, The Mynabirds’ Laura Burheen, Kentucky-based cellist Ben Sollee and more than a dozen others, have concocted a brilliant set that filters the best sounds of the past five decades through an utterly modern mindset.
Loping Alt.Folk/Country gives way to careening Psych Pop with a Glam undercurrent, ’60s Pop heaves a twangy sigh and salutes Beggar’s Banquet and Their Satanic Majesty’s Request as Elliott wails with the unhinged intensity of Jack White and Isaac Brock and TUS conducts the generational orchestra with schizophonic genius.
Clearly TUS cuts everything down to a visceral minimum in the live setting but still manages to capture the vital essence of the righteous, raucous rumble they create in the studio. These United States is us, and we love us like crazy.
THESE UNITED STATES perform Sunday, June 24 at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.