Untied States

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Atlanta's Untied States, led by the duo of Colin Arnstein and Skip Engelbrecht, joined by the rhythm section of Andy Jones (bass) and Wade Page (drums/percussion), turn in their second full-length release, Retail Detail, which furthers the band's explorations into the juxtaposition of straight rock playing and extreme experimentation. Untied States are the kind of group that can play somewhat conventional rock in a style that recalls Gang of Four, full of jagged guitar lines, driving rhythms, and harshly sung, minimally melodic vocals. But the bandmembers are only partially interested in such structures, and at any given moment one of their songs may break down or change gears suddenly, with tempos dropping or disappearing entirely and various keyboard sounds and noises replacing the established patterns. Like the Velvet Underground and the Mothers of Invention, Untied States want to explode the usual notions of what constitutes rock and, indeed, music itself. At times, the listener feels that the sonic ideas of John Cage have overtaken the band and that one is hearing not so much music in the accepted sense as loosely organized sound created in a partially unplanned fashion. The result is an album that is often jarring, but never dull.

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