Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
This nation has been transformed into one of people suddenly keen on frugality, or at the least feigning a need to be more attune to pinching pennies and exhibiting some newfound sense of real worth, real need. It's all happened since that notorious housing bubble burst, since all that poisonous debt was revealed, Since Madoff, since people started waking up to their lives being completely leveraged the wrong way, to a point of submersion. Now, we have more people making homemade cleaning supplies - vinegar as fabric softener - and tending to their backyard gardens as they never have before, cursing rabbits more than they ever thought they would. They wear things down to nubs, get shoes re-shod rather than buying new and they've learned to appreciate conversation again as a genuine form of entertainment. It's as if some people who were facsimiles or mere cutouts are becoming real people again. People are beginning to figure out what it means to have that drumming of a muscle flickering throughout the entire body, to allow themselves amazement and not just fatigue and regret. The Union Line, a young band from San Juan Capistrano, California, remind us of these simple pleasures as well, the delicate balance between obligation and free will, between taking and leaving. The value system for nearly everything has been rearranged in many minds, in a short amount of time, setting a new standard for what it takes to bring relief, happiness, comfort and calm. The band, with its sound rooted in the soulful rock and roll grooves of those who may or may not be god-fearing people on their own time, reaching into a feeling that connects those souls with something so naturally resounding and moving, brings out in its music a proper inspiration of gripping mortality and a denouncement of the piddling needlessness of empty, heartless efforts or existences. Many of the songs on the group's self-titled debut sound like the struggles of the penniless saps fighting with whatever they have left to not just get steam-rolled by the movers, shakers and those with all the plans. These people that they bring to life are not shiftless, but still full of spit, full of piss and still full of boundless spirit, though they've been worked over a bit, deflated a bunch. Richard Theisen III gives a lot of sage indications as to what he covets, what he cares the most about in "Catapult" - a barnburner of a song. It's a twister and it throws you completely into the life and times of these young men who identify with roughing it, with not getting everything everyone else thinks they should want. He sings that love's the only way to live the way he does and the resiliency in his stance is illuminated even more as the livewires are left out, cracking and popping as they flop all over the wet and electric pavement of the song. He sings, "I want to live, but not for what it's worth," in this song and a little bit later in the album tells a girl, "I'll give my love to you for what it's worth," and there's a real question of what's anything worth? It's all those eyes of all those beholders, flipping open and closed and changing their moods and minds. The Union Line, all of the gritty and fever-forming parts of them, see worth in none of this being over yet, in making it to another day and they've found a spectacular way of expressing just that.