USM (United States of Mind): Demo

From the corpses of several Boston punk bands, including S’N’O faves, Darkbuster, comes United States of Mind, Boston’s newest punk rock hopefuls. The boys in the band are: Rocco (ex-Capture the Flag) on vocals/guitar, Mike Gurly of Darkbuster fame on bass and vocals, Bob Kadles on guitar and vocals and Jon Stone on drums (both lads are from Meat Depressed.) What to expect from this new, potent blend? Well, you may or may not be surprised.

The opening, blistering tin whistle solo more than justifies this band’s presence on a site dedicated primarily to Irish punk/folk/whateverthefuck and this segues into the first cut (and my favorite) “Your Country.” This tune sets the stage for most of what follows – complete with Paul Weller-esqe “La-la-la-la’s, “Your Country” is one of the better efforts of power-pop, mod-ish, ’77 rock I’ve heard in quite some time. It, and most of the album seems influenced by such luminaries as Stiff Little Fingers, the Clash, the Jam and the Who, combined with a Boston rock-n-roll touch of their own. Indeed, Rocco tends to sound like a combo of Weller and Strummer, and that, dear friends, is a compliment.

As the album progresses into the rock-n-mod piece, “True to Your School” it combines a ‘50’s feel with Clash-like power to perfection, and hints of songs to come, as quite a few employ this technique – an almost 50’s power pop feel. Other tunes that stand out include “Song For a Generation” and “Nite Out” which actually reminds me of another Boston band, The Shods. “The Peter Pan Song” follows and continues along the same lines – Shod-ish power-pop, and the “I don’t wanna grow up – Not me! Not Me!” sing-along works and works well. “Armies of the World” follows and it also bounces along, Jam-like, infecting the bloodstream and causing one to sing along. The very early Clash-y “Check Your Head” has a chanted chorus that would make Sham 69 proud. Damn, these guys would’ve rocked on “Tops of the Pops” in 1978. Really, all that can be said is every cut on this disc is a winner…and that don’t happen often.

The band even go so far as to cover “Batman Theme” which Weller did with the Jam, as a tribute to Pete Townsend of the Who. The influences go ‘round and ‘round and end up here, with a modern, rocking sound. I can’t really say I’m surprised, as the band members are obviously talented and have taken bits pieces of their forefathers and combined it with their own parochial interests. Impressive to say the least. So “Ready Steady Go” it is and pick up this demo right now….At $3 it HAS to be the steal of the year (and it’s only February.)

February 2002

Review by Sean Holland