Friday, September 18, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 158 - The Presidents of the United States of America - S/T debut

By: March

Album - The Presidents of the United States of America
Artist - The Presidents of the United States of America
Key Players - Chris Ballew - vocals, two string basitar. Dave Dederer - three string guitbass, vocals. Jason Finn - drums and vocals.
Produced By - Conrad Uno, Chris Ballew and Dave Dederer

Release Date - March 1995

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I heard the song "Peaches" a few weeks ago.

Overview - Seattle based Presidents of the United States of America (the Presidents or POTUSA) formed in 1993 and by late 1994 they'd have a debut full length on a major label. The band, made up of three friends, played instruments that were short on strings and created some wonderfully fun pop songs on the process. This debut would be the fist of six full length records for the band and would be their largest seller.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The band gets a very unique sound due to the modifications of the instruments. Ballew has two bass strings on his guitar, and the bass used by Dederer had three guitar strings. The sound is full as is evident with the track opener "Kitty". The tone is full and deep and Finn has the cymbals that go "splish" then they are hit. The lyrics are campy with the backing vocalists meowing like cats over the spoken vocal line. The song gets faster and faster and ends on a high note. "Feather Pluckn" continues with the deeper guitar/bass groove (I will use guitar/bass as its easier to type). As the chorus grows Finn comes in on the drums and hits hard giving the track some punch. The sing along at the end is a nice touch. The bands biggest single "Lump" comes right up. Ballew sings to the pounding of Finn on drums. The guitar loop on the track, matched with the vocal delivery wins (or alienates) listeners quickly. The song is methodical and there is an instrumental break down before the verse continues. Its a very quick pop song and it holds up well after 10 years. "Stranger" is a much slower track than the previous tunes and it slowly builds. If you listen to the lyrics it appears to be about a stripper that someone has met. It is really sort of funny. A funky deep groove opens "Boll Weevil" and the guitar is played in choppy riffs before the be drums add some bounce to the track. The lyrics and music are back in the more up tempo clip of the early tracks. For the first time there is a "solo" on the record, its short, but it stands out. I'd love to figure out what guitar effect was used at the start of "Peaches" cuz I still dig it. After a short verse the whole band comes in. Ballew has reported this song was about a girl he wanted to date who had a Peach tree in her front yard, but you'd never know that. Sounds like we are moving to the country and eating a lot of peaches. The guitars are fuzzy, and the cymbal goes "splish" a bunch of times before the song builds to one tight crescendo to wrap up. "Dune Buggy" has a unique sound as it seems both the stringed instruments are trying to be tuned as the song starts. It has a unique charm to the song. "We Are Not Going to Make It" clicks off and ends up having a false start and the drums click it off once more. This is about as punk rock as the bad gets. The lyrics are self depreciating but still fun and the music keeps it all moving into their cover of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams". The longest track on the record (4:11) is "Body". On this track the band has more a focus on the vocals than the instruments which is fine. There is not that "lets get in and out of this song quick" feel. A welcome change. "Back Porch" has, well, a very back porch feel. The rockabilly feel pokes fun about having no teeth and slurping on peaches. The guitar parts are kept to short burst of notes while the the bass and drum keep the tempo alive. "Candy" has a darker guitar sound, but that cymbal "splish" comes in pretty early setting you up. On this, and the past few, the backing vocals have been a more prominent part in songs. The harmonies are good and you may not expect that due to the speed of the music, or the quirkiness of the lyrics. The album closes with "Naked and Famous". Fellow Seattle guitar player Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) joins in on guitar. The POTUSA vibe is there, then Thayil has a solo and you can hear "Soundgarden". The track is a strong album closer, rocking just hard enough.

Where are they now? - The band is still active to this day. The band has hit some rougher patches with a breakup, a hiatus, a short re-form, a full reform. None the less the band has continued on. Dave left the band to spend more time with his family, but still plays shows. Andrew McKeag has been filling in on "guitbass" for a few years now and some folks speculate he has replaced Dederer full time.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - In looking I don't have a definitive answer. I thought i had seen the band one time as part of a radio festival, but I'd need to look further to confirm that.

FDF Overall Take - Time has passed and the band continues on. Radio is even still playing tunes from this record. If you don't want to venture down the road of this cd, they do have a best of. It is a fun poppy rock record. Most of the tunes are pretty short and a lot you'd recognize. There is little to not like.


Official site here and Myspace here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3's have been removed...

Boll Weevil
We Are Not Going to Make It

All the tracks taken from the Self Titled record that you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 9:38 AM, Blogger Jenny G said...

Finally one I know! POTUSA is very late middle/early high school for me.

And that is SO not what peaches is about.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Joe said...

What's it about Jenny? :-)

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

That's two weeks in a row now that you've surprised me - I didn't think you liked POTUSA! Great album, but I like the second one even better.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger JamieSmitten said...

"Lump slipped on a kiss and tumbled into love" I always loved that line. Silly, fun songs.

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Gaz@NokiaMusic said...

Seriously delayed on my part but I can't resist this album, though I never got into any of their other stuff but I touch back on this debut quite often. Good sample choice with 'We're Not Gonna Make It', certainly the track that defines POTUSA for me... and yes Peaches is about... well, you know... lady peaches!
How can anyone resist a band that wears metallic shoes.


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