The Nation of Ulysses
13-Point Program To Destroy America


4.0
excellent

Review

by FilupLees USER (13 Reviews)
April 1st, 2011 | 13 replies


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ulysses, Ulysses, littly flower, beloved by all the youth.

The Nation of Ulysses were not a band, but a political party. The “party” formed in 1988 as “a violent and rejectionist group operating out of the Washington, D.C. area who seek to ‘wreak their vision on the world’ through the medium of music.” Some might have called them a terrorist organization (they called themselves a terrorist organization at times), but they may have been the best, last ditch attempt at keeping the ideas and intensity of 80’s hardcore alive in D.C..

The Nation of Ulysses are frequently compared to Fugazi for their musical styling. Those comparisons aren’t unwarranted. Both bands came out of the same city at the same time while sharing a pair of brothers (although Brendan Canty was never described as having “the smoothest skin in show business”), but while Fugazi was toning down their attitude and volume The Nation of Ulysses was a band that existed almost entirely on both of those. While Fugazi was trying to push past the hardcore dancing and violence The Nation of Ulysses were having bones broken at their shows.

The music itself is combination of 80’s hardcore and 70’s proto-punk. MC5 are an admitted huge influence, and at the beginning of Today I Met The Girl I’m Going To Marry you get treated to “When I say I’m in love you best believe I’m in love, L-U-V” which is a nod in the direction of The New York Dolls. The music itself isn’t particularly fast for what hardcore could be, but for the time’s post-hardcore it was relatively fast. Through this speed the band manages to always be playing together, but an air of sloppy garagey-ness keeps them from ever sounding truly cohesive. And what better instrument to add to a dirty, gritty sounding punk band than the trumpet? Ian Svenovious, the lead vocalist, plays trumpet at a few times spread throughout the album. The trumpet is never used in a fast, and high pitched ska style, but instead it is utilized as a tool to supply its parts with a slow trudge through muddy guitar and distorted bass lines. It is perhaps best used in Aspirin Kid, a five minute sludgy epic about a kid with chronic head aches thinking the radio is too loud. You know, the lyrical content you would expect from a band described as “terrorists.”

Not to say that the lyrics are stupid. In fact it’s the only thing that keeps this band from being legitimately scary, or horrible. If they were to take themselves seriously and sing only about where to place the bombs at what time they would be crossing some sort of line in the sand that keeps them in the “fun” section of your local record store. If they were to go with the ever present, meat-headed “I’m a tuff guy” lyrics of the early 80’s they would be appallingly pathetic, but singing about hot chocolate, and candy while never forgetting to throw in “baby” every now and again keeps them unique. Or, perhaps you are the love song type. You’re My Miss Washington D.C. is mainly about Svenovious having “so many things that I’m dying to show you.” Feel free to do the math on your own. Yet the vocals in songs like that really explain on their own how such a band as The Nation of Ulysses could have a profound influence on the San Diego scene that was about to erupt with the earliest versions of “screamo,” or that little known band from Sweden named Refused.

While the first full length of The Nation of Ulysses shows the beginnings of a now classic Dischord band it lacks the musical chops found on “Plays Pretty For Baby.” Not to discredit this album. “13-Point Program to Destroy America” is an album that on its own has enough energy and “interesting” political commentary to captivate any fan of punk rock.



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user ratings (41)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
FilupLees
April 1st 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Personally this album is a 4.5, but I know that that's not really true objectively.

liledman
April 1st 2011


3826 Comments


music doesnt involve true objectivity, you should stand your rating.

been meaning to listen to these guys for a while, think i have plays for pretty baby but i always forget its there.

FilupLees
April 1st 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's mainly because of when this album caught me in my music listening career. I was kind of a lost 15 year old searching for a genre to call my own, and once I found this I knew it was punk for me!

Basically I can't really expect anyone who just torrents this to feel the same way.

liledman
April 1st 2011


3826 Comments


stand by*

i doubt you are the only who has felt that way about a punk record before haha, im sure many here would have albums they hold dear to them in that regard. theres no shame in that.

americanmusicmachine
April 2nd 2011


3953 Comments


fuck yeah awesome review man!

this cd has the coolest liner notes in like all of existence.

also I fucking love "a kid who tells on another kid is a dead kid"

FilupLees
April 2nd 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

When I first got this I listened to that song about 25 times in a row lol

And thanks for the pos

FilupLees
April 2nd 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Almost all my quotes came from the liner notes, if anyone is interested. It is a much better choice to buy a NoU album than to DL it. So much more fun.

SeaAnemone
April 2nd 2011


20520 Comments


was really close to buying this today but went with End on End instead

Digging: Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

FilupLees
April 2nd 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's a respectable choice. I know that you're one of the people on this site who reps Plays Pretty For Baby so you should definitely get this at some point too. I kind of prefer PPFB musically, but I haven't spun it as much as I have this one.

descendents1
April 2nd 2011


702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You were wise to keep the 4.5 to yourself and the 4 an attempt at objectivity. It's good practice for reviewing. Obviously everything we share has a bias, but it takes skill to deconstruct a work objectively (even if it's only an approximation). And then it's another level of skill to go beyond what's currently accepted as "objectively" good and proceed to uphold or deconstruct those widely accepted beliefs.

Anyway, this is a great review. I still like PPFB more than this.

If a listener enjoys this they need to go straight to Trenchmouth.

FilupLees
April 2nd 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just looked at Trenchmouth's last fm profile and the tags have me intrigued.

descendents1
April 2nd 2011


702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJKrWeuRJUA

That's them live in '92. I don't remember when they retired. Anyway, their drummer was Fred Armisen, who went from being relatively unknown when I started listening to Trenchmouth, but is now ridiculously popular (he's plays Obama on SNL, he's in Portlandia, etc.).

I would just pick up their compilation "More Motion". If you can find it. I had to get it in a record store in the Bay Area after a lot of searching. You can always buy it online.

BMDrummer
August 15th 2014


8632 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

alight time to see if Refused really ripped off these guys



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