Timelessness and universality are two qualities missing from most contemporary music—which is a lot of the reason why These United States feel like such a breath of fresh air. On their debut CD, A Picture of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden, the dynamic duo of songwriter/singer Jesse Elliott and producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist David Strackany pursue a vision somewhere between the Postal Service's soft synth-pop and traditional blues-folk. Elliott comes off as the best sort of troubadour: For him, songs are as much signposts to rally around as they're short, short sonic stories or romantic serenades that'd work equally well in 1953 or 2009. Take "The Business," a lively, swinging, all-in-a-day's-work meditation that doubles a reaffirmation of dogged adoration. "I got a big brand new Cadillac of a plan," he promises, later flipping negative to positive: "I can't even tell you all the blood I've seen/But for a taste of your love, I'll go through any machine." With No Time for TV, the Pleasure Boaters, Mannix!, the ReVamps, Pandora's Box Cutters, and the Puritanicals. 18+.
Mon., March 31, 5 p.m., 2008