Worthless United - A Nation Under (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Worthless United

A Nation Under (2003)

Now Or Never

Worthless United accomplish something that many `77 styled street punks never manage to do: they've developed a sound that is completely their own. While still heavily indebted to The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers, the band has successfully infused their sound with elements of Bruce Springsteen / Neil Young styled heartland rock. While they still have room to grow and improve as a band, this record catapults Worthless United away from the limitations and boundaries other street punk acts impose on themselves.

As they displayed on last year's ‘I Am Nothing' EP, vocalists Dave Colantoni and Zak Kaplan share a Strummer / Jones relationship in their songs. The higher, smoother vocals of one singer contrast the lower, gravelly sound of the other. It's a similar approach as what Rancid uses and it works equally well here. There are a few moments on slower tracks when the vocals don't quite fit with the tone of the songs, but these little imperfections give the record a lot of its charm.

Scrappy punk tracks like ‘I Am Nothing' and ‘Ghost' call to mind similar offerings from the Bouncing Souls and The Forgotten. Formerly recorded as a fast punk anthem, ‘Oh Sweetheart' is remade as a folky ballad and turns out to be one of the most moving tracks on the album. Tunes like ‘That Song' and ‘On And On' are perfect examples of the band's successful incorporation of American trad rock into their sound. My only major qualm with ‘A Nation Under' the recording at times lacks the punch some of the tracks need (any likely have when played live).

While Social Distortion and Sixer have similarly mixed their punk with southern rock, Worthless United take on the largely untapped well of influence from working class singer / songwriters. The result is one of those rare street punk albums that gives something fresh to the genre.