These United States, Or, the Whale

Both these bands, while solidly ensconced in the 21st century, freely and extensively derive their eclectic sounds from an era when psychedelia and country-rock ruled the roost. D.C.'s These United States stretch things considerably further, with anything from folksy introspection to pop to galloping new wave rock 'n' roll capable of breaking out at virtually any moment on this spring's Everything Touches Everything (United Interests). Still, Jesse Elliott's literate lyrics invariably conclude that all you need is love amid giddy reveries ("I've tried not to experience time in the same way"), steel guitar gently weeps at frequent intervals, and gossamer clouds of acidic surrealism (a Magical Mystery-like one billows out of "Good Night Wish") float about without irony. Pedal steel is even more prominent (along with the odd banjo) in San Francisco's Or, the Whale, whose eponymous sophomore album (Seany Records) convincingly settles into territory once traveled by the Flying Burrito Brothers and New Riders of the Purple Sage. Strong melodies, ambling rhythms, twangy guitars flashing riffs at one another, and fine vocal harmonies suggest this septet is still cultivating a pretty potent crop out near that gilded palace of sin. With Total Babe. 18+. (Photo by Sarah Law)
Sun., Oct. 4, 8 p.m., 2009
 
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