Monday, November 15, 2010


We Are the Union
Great Leaps Forward
Paper + Plastick

It's not ska punk like you remember. It's not all upstrokes, fedoras and good times. With drummer Jim Margle setting the pace, We Are the Union blend ultra-fast melodic punk-rock, shredding riffs and Wonder Years-style pop-hardcore with Less Than Jake-ish horns, punchy lyrics and searing power melodies.

We Are the Union's second album's not just a clever title either. The Detroit band's done a lot of growing up since their 2007 debut Who We Are. They've been all over the world, from Canada to London (and Wales and Scotland later this month) - fracturing wrists, getting broken into, hitting a moose and totalling their van along the way. And you can hear the determination in the songs: we will overcome...

Song titles like "This Is a Farewell Kiss, You Dog" (a reference to shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi), "Rearranging Deck Chairs On the Titanic," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "What We Have Here, Is a Failure to Communicate" (Cool Hand Luke) show off the band's thoughtful, late '90s approach to songwriting. With bassist Brandon Benson adding a dash of Home Grown, Midtown swoon to guitarist Reed Wolcott's gutsy lead vocals and trombonist Matt Belanger's raspier, one-man-gang screams.

Overall, Great Leaps Forward sounds familiar yet modern, fresh and alive at the same time. The album's squeezed full of passion and a never-say-die attitude that's hard to miss.
And with 14 songs adding up to less than 35 minutes, it doesn't even stop to take a breath. The only downer is all the songs seem to blend into one quick-fire mass, without as many instant standouts as their edgier debut Who We Are. And the slicker production on Wolcott's vocals makes him sound a bit more like 'everyone else.' It's good. Still, I think their best is yet to come.

We Are the Union on MySpace
We Are the Union on Facebook

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