Sound: From first listen, I really latched onto We Are The Union's sound. A great mix of straight up pop-punk and ska with touches of hardcore punk influence gives the listener a fast paced, upbeat mix plate of the several different style these guys touch upon. Althought not an original style, these guys do it better than most, harking back to the older skacore sound that bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones popularized in the early to mid 90's.
All the songs on the album blend into one another seamlessy, an effect I really enjoyed on this record. A lot of times, listening to this album, I found myself losing my place on the record because I took the album as a whole piece of music rather than a collection of song.
The instrumentation is also great, considering these guys have a relatively low budget for producing their records (They play strictly all ages shows at small venues, so concert revenue comes primarily from merch), the quality of the recordings is remarkable, the guitars and the horns are clean and shine through brilliantly and the rythym section of bass and drums provides a resoudning back beat over the music. The vocals are pretty impressive as well, as the singers trade lines back and forth, and the group choruses provide the listener with a great sing along quality on many of the songs. // 9
Lyrics: I have heard complaints that We Are The Union's lyrics are too simplistic and straight forward, but it is a quality that I like. Having had the opportunity to see this band live several times, the sing-along choruses and shoutable verses proved to strengthen the band's sound, providing a fast paced, but simple and accessible lyrical quality that alot of bands can't grasp.
The lyrics on the album deal with relationships, the fledgling ska/punk scene, the band's love of being on the road and emotional self issues. Some would consider these subjects taboo in punk, because We Are The Union substitutes the typical empty "F**k The Government" lyrical content with heartfelt songs regarding issues that people can feel with. // 8
Overall Impression: These guys are a remarkable band who really know how to level with people. Standouts on the album are the riveting opener, "MTV Is Over, If You Want It" as well as the one-two punch of "I'm Like John Cusack In The Way That I'm Holding A Boom Box Outside Your Window, Telling You To F**k Off" and "You Can Have This Microphone When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Fingers". The only gripe I have with the album is that it is relatively short, with the 11 songs wrapping up in around a half hour, although this is expected because of the genre.
I got this record for free through Community Records, a great DIY punk/ska label based out of New Orleans. Those guys do great work, promoting their bands and giving listeners who are hard pressed to afford music access to much of their catalog for free. I'd definitely pay to replace this record if it came to that though. // 9