The Nation of Ulysses, Plays Pretty for Baby

Joe Gross

By Joe Gross

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
You either hated or loved Nation of Ulysses.

You either hated or loved Nation of Ulysses. I did plenty of both, hating one of the upper middle class's all-time sketchiest appropriations of Black Power/Nation of Islam imagery and loving that ungodly flailing sound and a live show that changed anyone who saw them. Noisier and more focused than their beloved debut, 13 Point Program to Destroy America, Plays is NOU's recorded apex. Everything here feels turned up to 11: the post-Ornette suits, the post-Mod garage riffs at mach speed, the post-hardcore tempos, Ian Svenonius screaming archly post-Situationist, spot-the-reference lyrics. Ironically, the band whose burning wail appropriated so relentlessly from the past was ripped off without mercy for most of the '90s by flail-core acts both decent (Frodus, the Blood Brothers, pretty much anybody on Gravity Records) and dire (what's up, Refused). Somewhere a band is stealing from NOU right now.