Recent Reviews of Retail Detail:
From "Delusions of Adequacy" www.adequacy.net
Music can be rather boring at times. For every album that comes along and manages to completely devour our free time, there are innumerably more that beg the question: why was this recorded at all? In light of this, rock is a very fickle genre. It seems anymore that everything being churned out is just another impossibly unimaginative retread of already bland sounds. Luckily, rock is also very malleable and can be changed into something interesting with even the least bit of effort and imagination. Untied States is a band containing these two features in no small amount.
The group sounds like a strange meld of the experimental sounds of U.S. Maple and Jim O'Rourke, the fierce post-hardcore of later Blood Brothers recordings, and the conventional rock of, well, too many bands to name. The result is a deep, frenzied-yet-stable piece of what can be described as nothing else but avant-rock, as pretentious as that may sound. Untied States dodge characterization well enough to evoke odd terminology.
Strewn about Retail Detail, the band's second full-length, are equal parts abstract, whaa? noise and basic guitar rock features. The two offset each other in a delightfully chaotic way, while a generally simple chord progression and drum beat may be offset by oscillating electronic skronk and other random noises. Wailing guitar feedback accentuates vocals that call to mind a much more vicious and acidic version of Matt Bellamy from Muse. What seems like a grandiose piano-oriented track (“Retail Detail”) is transformed by a quick drumbeat and haunting vocals into a foreboding anthem in just over a minute. “Martyrs Have Nothing to Live For” sounds like the direction the Blood Brothers have been migrating towards over the years (that is, one away from simple, generic hardcore), and it exemplifies the band's willingness to let convention overtake the experimental every now and again. This is followed by the Liars-esque “You Own Your Own,” a scattered affair, to say the least.
The band doesn't seem content to dawdle in any one style for any amount of time. Because of this ADD-infused musicianship, the album comes off as messy hodgepodge of raucous sounds, and I could see this turning off a variety of listeners. However, there's much enjoyment to be had in Retail Detail, and I would recommend it confidently to anyone who who has grown tired of the ordinary.
Smother Magazine Review March 2006
While many fellow pop artists are stuck on the “Retail Detail” side of making music if you will, Untied States delve into the dank world of experimental. Electronic pop glistens the vocals at times while the guitars angle towards the post-hardcore fuzz of early Sonic Youth and Fugazi. Big drum sounds dominate many of the tracks with psychedelic guitar overloads and outright bizarre sonic fillers. “Retail Detail” is pop’s antithesis and shines with cathartic clarity amid manic rock-n-roll deconstruction. You might think all of this would be far too chaotic but it remains artsy and not just mere noise for noise’s sake. Excellent.
babysue March 06 Pork Chopper Cheeseheaded Pointy Reviews by LMNOP
Wildly unpredictable. The fellows in Untied States have a lot more in common with experimental British bands of the 1970s and 1980s than they do with bands in their hometown (Atlanta, Georgia). Retail Detail is a strange and peculiar collection of tunes that can only be described as sounding something like a more abrasive and loud variation of the up-and-coming art pop band Pattern Is Movement (mainly due to some of the peculiar rhythms and time signatures). While the guys in Untied States have a sound, defining that sound is ultimately rather difficult. Because of the vast array of styles and influences, the band ends up sounding like almost no one but themselves. Despite the fact that these musicians are pulling some rather odd punches, as a whole this album is extraordinarily cohesive and spins smoothly. Complex intellectual rockers include "It's Not Goodbye," "Martyrs Have Nothing To Live For," "My Cause Is My Curse," and "Currencies."
Creative Loafing Review
BY CHAD RADFORD
Schizophrenia has always been good to the arts no matter how brutal or subtle its onset. Untied States' Retail Detail is not equal to Vincent VanGogh hacking off his ear and offering it to his favorite pro, but its twisted sentiments and ear-bleeding intensity are carved by the same knife. Everyone from Arnold Schoenberg to the Jesus Lizard scars the mindset of "Retell the Tale" and "Martyrs Have Nothing to Live For."
Each song maintains a twitchy, art-damaged cognition through icy classical music trim, winding through a frantic industrial art-rock dirge. Melodies form, sputter and collapse, and the mangled makeup of "Currencies" is totally compelling in the search for tangible emotion.
Retail Detail is awash in fragmented rhythms that jitter like synapses making all the wrong connections — this is not criticism. Stoner kids pay good money for this quality of hallucinogenic product and Retail Detail supplies the goods.
=============== Aiding and Abetting A&A #272 Review March 2006
Quirkiness does not equal genius, but Untied States' excessive use of eccentricity just might. The songs themselves are relatively straightforward, but the instrumentation and arrangements get about as far out as is imaginable. Sometimes the kitchen sink is thrown into the kitchen sink, an Escherian conundrum that simply elevates the songs into the stratosphere.
I really like what these folks do, but then, I'm a big dirty pop fan. Anything you can do to a pop song that doesn't destroy its innate purity is a plus in my book. And while these folks do have their deconstructive moments, at the heart of each song is a solid hook. Often demented, of course, but a hook nonetheless.
And while things keep flying at the ears with dazzling fury, the sound itself is somewhat restrained. To wit, you can distinctly hear each of these aural missiles as they threaten not only your ears but your sanity. That level of detail is something to behold.
Thus a gawd-awful mess really isn't. I was anticipating greatness from the moment I opened the package containing this disc, but this album surpassed that. I remain blown away.
UNTIED STATES Review in North Carolina’s Go-Triad
Sometimes Untied States doesn't feel very united. So perhaps it's fitting that this Atlanta band has released one the best records you've never heard of.
Untied, unhinged, unglued. That's the general feeling of listening to "Retail Detail," the group's third record, self-released, on which it continues a journey of fractured art rock bliss.
It labels itself experimental, but don't be frightened; it's just performing a little cosmetic surgery on conventionality. Musically, the group comes in well under the radar, flying low with a potent combination of pop rock tunefulness filtered through dissonant fuzz, industrial clatter bang and a certain amount of unpredictability. Vocals can be painfully strained croon, hurried mumble or static-filled ramble, and it works, thanks to the brooding affinity and frantic energy all these tracks share.
"You Own Your Own," for instance, begins with a throbbing ambient pulse and scattered snare in hot pursuit. Bass and guitar soon follow, along with paranoid observations and nervous chants of "He knows, he knows."
The next track is a one-minute interlude of glitchy chamber music adorned with cello, ambient pulse and stuttering static. "My Cause Is My Curse" ratchets the tempo back up with a more or less straight-ahead rocker before "We Don't Have to Climb" veers off again. The album maintains this anxious back and forth, leaving you uneasy and off-balance but ultimately rewarded. — Daniel McMillan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It would be inaccurate to refer to Untied States as purely experimental. There are recognizable structures of traditional rock music present in their work; vestiges of their years of practicing to the point of internalization. There are regular drumbeats, guitar chord progressions, and lyrics that provide a sophisticated and stable skeleton for the songs. The texture and taste of the music, however, is highly protean, with original and sampled sounds both recognizable and foreign to a listener, creating an unusual sense of displacement. It is the tension between the traditional structures and wild tissue of Untied States’ music that makes it most interesting. There is a simultaneous, near-sadomasochistic desire for binding structure, and frenetic attempts to escape it.
With the release of Untied States’ first EP "Bird of the Blood Feather" in 2003 and its follow-up "Ineffable, By Design in 2004," the group established itself as purveyors of both art-pop and soundscape composition, blending these elements through a juxtaposition of both accessible songwriting and quasi-experimental aural textures. These two efforts gained honorable reviews and radio play on college and progressive stations throughout the US. Along the way, the duo augmented their lineup with the addition of two other musicians: Andy Jones (bass) and Wade Page (drums), themselves lifetime friends and bandmates. This addition brought the aforementioned “psychic rapport” to new levels, and in doing so, strengthened the group’s sound and allowed them to bring its often cacophonic recorded concepts to live audiences; along the way sharing bills with a diverse range of artists, including Mike Watt, U.S. Maple, and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. With its new release "Retail Detail," the group synthesizes elements of its previous efforts into a more integrated whole, where song and soundscape seek to redeem one another. Pieced together largely from improvised performances, "Retail Detail" is the band’s first conscious attempt to ameliorate its subconscious with a very real portrayal of its immediate existences.
Untied States believes that in their efforts to invoke terribly, sometimes uncomfortably personal experiences, pure euphony would be simply, phony. This does not mean that there are not nuggets of creepy loveliness imbedded within their dramatic range of song-works. But sweet tones are usually only maintained long enough to establish a clean palate for some warbling sonic surprise. The music of Untied states presents a collage of how they perceive experience-sometimes beautiful, always in danger of twittering out into chaos.