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Review: Unifier - Colorado

Is this the future of Future Ghosts?

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating




Autumn + Colour Records/Round Kid Records
What's in a name? Shakespeare had some thoughts on that, and the music industry does as well. Names of bands are tied to sounds and impressions, and when bands discover they share names, it can lead to legal actions, like a recent move where a Chicago band called Future Ghosts trademarked the name and served takedown notices to a handful of other bands who shared the name, resulting in the elimination of their online presences.

This is what happened to Greensboro's Future Ghosts, who found themselves yanked from sites like Facebook, Reverbnation and Bandcamp, as those sites sought to comply with the law, just as they were preparing to release their album Colorado on indie labels Autumn + Colour Records and Round Kid Records (the Chicago band issued this reply).

Now the next chapter of the Future Ghosts story has begun, but the main character this time is under a different name. Rather than deal with what could be long-lasting and financially devastating legal posturing, Greensboro decided to move on with their musical careers, quickly renaming themselves and reemerging as Unifier, and simply getting on with what they do - making solid poppy rock and roll with infectious hooks.

As the band stated:

Our only focus as a band should be to write, play and release music - goals which this situation was seriously obstructing. All of our plans for the release of the new album were being strained, and we did not want to push the date back any longer. Rather than waste any more time, we began work to find a new name, alter artwork, create new websites, and remove the sour taste from our mouths.

Unifier, formerly known as Future Ghosts

Autumn + Color Records

Opening with "Crush," the band immediately sets out to wash away the sour with sweet sounds that are never syrupy. Fans of bands like Jimmy Eat World will be readily aware of the flavor, it tastes like pop (soda depending on where in the country you're from), mixed with Pop Rocks (which are never called Soda Rocks, no matter where you're from); fast upbeat poppy tunes, with a mildly aggressive guitar-drive punch.

Tracks like "Traps" pair gentler melodic vocals with hard hitting guitars, drawing easy comparisons to bands like Brand New or Alkaline Trio, while songs like "Bitter? Better." build thick melodies draped in moodiness that avoids encroaching on melodrama.

It's a story that plays out again and again on the album, as the band mixes up their sounds without evading the effective combination of hooked instrumentals and well-written but catchy lyrics. The band knows what works, and they work with it sincerely. It's never forced, and that shows.

Repeatedly the band proves themselves to be masters a lush compositions, with tracks like "Colorado," "Shame," "Shadows," "Mission Control" and really most of the album being composed of heavily layered sounds that never get so complex that they lose their poppiness. It's easy listening, but not in the traditional sense. It's easy to listen to because it's poppy and palatable, but not devoid of substance. It's pop punk without too much punch, and pop rock without too little. And it's lush and layered without getting artsy.

In the wake of the Future Ghosts legal actions, I was invited onto Vandals' bassist Joe Escalante's talk show Barely Legal Radio. As we wrapped up the discussion of the case, the final questions was debating who the winner was, and who was the loser. Greensboro's Future Ghosts (as well as the others) lost their name(s), while the Chicago band ended up looking vindictive. Ultimately, the victory would go to the band with the better music. Whomever makes better records will be proven the winner, while the other will become a footnote. Right now, Unifier has pleaded a solid case - it remains to be seen what response from the band in Chicago will have.

Release Date: February 12, 2013

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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