Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Nation Of Ulysses EP

Revolutionary Punk Rock 7" Checklist:
  • Soviet style iconography of working woman with wrench? Check.
  • Multi-page political manifesto? Check.
  • Snarling DC-hardcore guitar drone? Check.
  • Trumpet? A trumpet? Who brought a fucking trumpet?

Welcome to The Nation of Ulysses. Population: "As few as five, possibly hundreds." according to the extensive liner notes, which look like espionage dossiers, complete with photos of spies and out-of-whack typewriter text. It's wildly fun to pick through these.  The notes also contain their political manifesto...
"…while never forgetting the need for constant purging, ‘as the Nation shall resemble a self-cleaning oven.’"
and band member biographies...
“…James (Canty) replied ‘We’re sort of an epic Joycean assembly with bold futuristic leanings’ before delivering solid punches to the jaws of the entire audience.” 
You just know they had a great time writing this.

The music, well, that's wildly fun in that there's a ton of energy in it. What is it? It's barely controlled DC hardcore-esque chaos with the occasional oddly placed trumpet bleat in between the feedback howls. They definitely have some of that Dischord sound to them, at least when the trumpet isn’t playing. They make an attempt at some free-form jazz while someone mumbles “That’s the soundtrack to revolution”  into the mic before they launch into the opening track.

So, why do I own this? The 20-year old me would have eaten this up. The music? It's fun, and sloppy. If you're looking for great music, Fugazi did this sound a whole lot better, and without an oddly-fitting one-man horn section. But the over the top politics and humor of this band just can’t be beat. I would have appreciated that then just as much as I do now. The songs on this EP were later included on the wonderfully titled "13-Point Program To Destroy America." I can’t believe I forgot about these guys.

Funny what some research turns up. Drummer James Canty (brother of Fugazi’s Brendan Canty) now plays guitar for Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. I wonder if he describes them as Joycean. At the very least, he's got a lot more punches to deliver now.

A: Sound of Young America
B: Channel One Ulysses, Car Bomb


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