Common Rider - This Is Unity Music (Cover Artwork)

Common Rider

Common Rider: This Is Unity MusicThis Is Unity Music (2002)
Hopeless Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: adamAdam
(others by this writer | submit your own)

If Operation Ivy channeled the Clash's sound, Common Rider channels their ambition. With their second album following Jesse Michaels' decade long sojourn from the music scene, Common Rider continues to redefine the conventions of what a ska-punk band can sound like. "This Is Unity Music" delivers tw.
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If Operation Ivy channeled the Clash's sound, Common Rider channels their ambition. With their second album following Jesse Michaels' decade long sojourn from the music scene, Common Rider continues to redefine the conventions of what a ska-punk band can sound like. "This Is Unity Music" delivers twelve showing the trio maturing and sounding far more comfortable than they did on their uneven (yet still rather good) debut.

'Firewall' is dub much in the same vein of the late, great Franklin. 'Set The Method Down' is a low-fi rock song sounding more like indie-garage than Clash-era punk. 'Small Pebble' and 'Midnight Passenger' are mold-breaking ska songs. Michaels jumps from reggae toasting to his characteristic frantic ranting as the songs progress in rather unconventional ways. 'Blackbirds Vs Crows' features the kind of melodic chorus Bad Religion strives for and some frantic guitar-play by Michaels. On 'One Ton' Michaels toasts in a style at times reminiscent of Buju Banton's "Til' Shilah" material. 'Longshot' could be a Green Day tune and joins other competent punk rock tracks like 'Time Won't Take Away' and 'Prison Break.'

"This Is Unity Music" takes the ska-punk sound and turns it on its head. It's always urgent, sparse, minimalist at times and best of all, fresh sounding. Nowhere to be found is the borderline-irritating humor or arena-rock breakdowns that stereotypical ska-punk bands partake in. Thematically Jesse is still writing intelligent lyrics with a slight spiritual focus. Common Rider keeps their interpretation of an old style interesting by tampering with the typical arrangements and time signatures used. The band sounds much tighter and coherent compared to their work on "Last Wave Rockers." Specifically the rhythm section is much more in synch with Michaels' direction. Dan Lumley's drumming is far less spastic this time around and it helps the songs flow.

Common Rider manages to sound progressive and is yet knee deep in the influences of Desmond Dekker, The Specials, The Clash and other 'traditional' reggae, punk and ska artists. I still feel there's some creative threshold Michaels is taking small steps towards and has not yet reached, but his progress along the way is simply a blast to listen too. For now, Jesse Michaels legacy remains intact.


People who liked this also liked:
Operation Ivy - Operation IvyDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeThe Clash - London CallingRancid - ... And Out Come The WolvesNOFX - The DeclineBad Religion - SufferDead to Me - Cuban BallerinaThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Rise Against - Revolutions Per MinutePropagandhi - Potemkin City Limits

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
StandAlone (October 3, 2009)

This is a wonderful album. Completely underrated and slept on by most fans of the genre.

bornagainstcrackhead (October 12, 2006)

i loved this album !! its a great follow up to last wave rockers !!

Klasticono (September 20, 2003)

This is one of my favourite albums ever made. Common Rider was an amazing band, and I prefer their material to Operation Ivy's. Michaels obviously grew as a songwriter in that time. I particularly like "Small Pebble" off this disc.

moldrottenmilk (December 24, 2002)

Common Rider is my favorite band in the whole world. I love them. This cd rocks...It's wondeful...but it isn't nearly as good as Last Wave Rockers, but it rocks all the same!!!

AstroVince (September 10, 2002)

I'm digging Common Rider, and i'm stoked to see them live on the Plea for Peace tour!

Anonymous (September 9, 2002)

Once you listen to this album a few times, you realize how amazing it is. Best songs are (in order) 1-Blackbirds vs. Crows 2-Longshot 3-Time won't take away 4-Prison Break. Just like as in everything else Jesse has done, this has plenty of genius in it

Dubar (September 9, 2002)

to the guy complaining about the "ska-punk" label... reggae is a form of ska... ska was first... therefore "punk-reggae fusion" and "ska-punk" mean the same thing

adam (September 9, 2002)

Gah! You're right. I fixed it because I'm anal and I have the power to do so.


evildeadalive (September 9, 2002)

Great band, good review, but I couldn't help but notice how many times you used the word 'then' when it should have been 'than'.
...I don't mean to seem like the grammar police or anything, as mine usually sucks anyways. Just making an observation.

adam (September 9, 2002)

Cos, please feel free to review it as well. We'll post up to two reviews of an album, possibly more if its a different viewpoint.

As for my label of "ska punk," I realize it's not the most accurate genra-tization of Common Riders sound, but it means a bit more to some of the kids then "reggae-punk fusion," and I tried to stress that it wasnt a conventional ska-punk sound.


Anonymous (September 8, 2002)

I don't think its inaccurate to compare Common Rider with the Clash or Op Ivy, it IS inaccurate, however, to call this album "ska-punk".

Only one song on this album is ska related (track 7 or so, but I don't recall exactly). The rest is a wonderful punk-reggae fusion, recalling the Clash and a few other punk bands who've successfully put punk elements into reggae. And its great Michaels can make a punk scream sound like a dancehall chat.

Way better and more consistant and cohesive than their well-done debut. I'm just disappointed someone, once again, got the review quicker.


Dubar (September 8, 2002)

regardless of the fact that they definitely influenced it, this CD sounds a LOT like the Clash.

seek (September 8, 2002)

>> except people gotta stop throwing in
>> the words "Clash" and "Operation Ivy"
>> when they talk about Common Rider.

Why not? It makes perfect sense. Jesse was in Operation Ivy, which will always be better and much more influential than anything he ever does. The Clash were the first band to fuse punk with reggae and ska, any band that utilizes such fusion owes it to the Clash. Therefore, both these corelations are quite obvious--almost necessary--when talking about Common Rider.

Anonymous (September 7, 2002)

fucking amazing.

Anonymous (September 7, 2002)

i thought they sucked at the secret show, same songs like 12 times. im gonna return my cd so then i got to go to the show for free :). the first band was really good though, anthym

Vien (September 7, 2002)

Just went to thier secret show last night, it was the best. I personally liked thier debut a litte bit better though.

travis (September 7, 2002)

their first album is great. i need to pick this up.

Anonymous (September 7, 2002)

It does take a while to grow on you, unlike their first album, but it is worth the wait.

punky (September 7, 2002)

Great review, I still have to hear the record.If it sounds anything like OP IVY then it can't be bad .

aubin (September 7, 2002)

Great review Adam; I'm really interested in hearing this record now. As for the Operation Ivy references, it's bound to happen. Operation Ivy is among the best bands of all time, and was one of the bands that got me into punk. It's influence is everywhere, and while Jesse isn't trading on the name, people who loved Ivy are probably wondering how it relates, even thematically.

Anonymous (September 6, 2002)

Ugh. I'm not sure about this one. I really loved their first album, but this album uses a lot more effects and distorted ska style that I'm not really liking. I'll give it some time to grow on me, but I'd have to recommend the first over this one.

Anonymous (September 6, 2002)

I love this CD, that's all I have to say.

adam (September 6, 2002)

Op Ivy is a name that will always be over anything Michaels touches, its hard to get away from it. Citing the Clash is obvious since theres such an obvious Clash influence in everything Michaels writes (there's even little Clash references in his lyrics).

Anonymous (September 6, 2002)

great review. great band.
except people gotta stop throwing in the words "Clash" and "Operation Ivy" when they talk about Common Rider.

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