Quick Review (LP): U.S. Songs by Elliott

US Songs
Revelation; 1998

My Rating: B+ (77/100)

Best Tracks: "Miracle", "Intro", "Dionysus Burning", "Second Story Skyscraper", "Alchemy as a Rhythm"

Excellent debut from hyper-melodic post-hardcore outfit.


"Miracle" (5/5)

  • Helluva way to start a record. Big and beautiful.
  • Great guitar work by Jay Palumbo.
  • Ratterman is crazy on the drums.
  • This one seems to be sort an anti-commercialist lament.
  • Here it is back in the day.

"Intro" (5/5)

  • Great instrumental.
  • Love that simple little repeating bit. Love the effect on it.
  • Great jam. Not amazing musically, but they really rock it hard. The thing almost comes apart at the end.

"The Conversation" (4/5)

  • One of the great things about early Elliott was the slow dance tunes. This is a good one.
  • Intimate tune with a gorgeous melody.
  • Nice changeup from the first two tracks.

"Dionysus Burning" (4/5)

  • Powerful performance.
  • The hardcore roots are showing.
  • Amazing vocals by Higdon.

"The Watermark High" (4/5)

  • A little flat compared to the single version that preceded it.
  • Ratterman may be a hell of a drummer, but Ben Lord’s drumming defined this one on the In Transit 7".
  • Cool tune nonetheless.

"Every Train That Passes" (4.5/5)

  • Love the breakdown on this one.
  • Powerful drum work by Ratterman.
  • Sort of dreamy.

"Suitcase and Atoms" (4.5/5)

  • That’s some poppy hard rock.
  • Is it power pop? It deserves the label, at least semantically.
  • Catchy. Got no idea what it means.

"Second Story Skyscraper" (5/5)

  • One of my favorites. Pretty unorthodox tune in structure.
  • It’s all over the place, but it really works.
  • That last bit, the last 30-45 seconds, that kills me. So great.
  • This tune is like a tiny, aural film. Fantastic.
  • I always thought of this one as a "worlds collide" tune for the sounds of Rodan and Sunny Day Real Estate.

"Alchemy as a Rhythm" (5/5)

  • I saw Elliott several times in 96/97, before this album came out, and I think they would open with this one right after the "Lost Instrumental" from the If They Do EP.
  • It was so exciting. It was like the reincarnation of Sunny Day Real Estate, who were my favorite band at the time.
  • Great tune. Pure emotional power.

"Ten Cent Inquiry" (4.5/5)

  • I think this was also a pretty early tune.
  • Love the way this one slowly picks up steam.
  • Pretty powerful by the time it ends.

"Safety Pin Explanation" (4/5)

  • You know, I think I can recognize about 10% of the words in this song.
  • Nice coda on the song. Perfect way to round out a heckuva show.
  • Early video of this one here.


  • As great as his voice is, Higdon is a hard dude to understand. I think it would be really interesting to do a study on his vocal and lyrical patterns.
  • Another thought on Higdon’s voice: the guy writes interesting lyrics, but the lyrics seem more like a vehicle for conveying his amazing voice. Reminds me, again, of early Sunny Day Real Estate and Jeremy Enigk. Stipe did it, and so have others. It’s a singing philosophy, and one, in my mind, that completely works.
  • There’s a ton of great video from this period (and before) on YouTube. A few choice cuts: Ben Lord era, “The Watermark High”, “Halfway Pretty”, “Second Story Skyscraper”.
  • Man, what I wouldn’t give to get a live recording of the band in the Ben Lord era. Nothing against Ratterman, but there’s just something about a great band in that early, pre-debut stage.
  • All in all, this is my favorite Elliott album. While I appreciate their later work, in my mind, this album represents the band at the height of their promise. It’s completely memorable, catchy, and the songs come across with amazing energy. While I would have loved to have some more cuts of the Ben Lord era (props to Ratterman, but BL had it going on), this is the closest thing we’ll probably ever get to that. Call me nostalgic, but something about this band when they were still figuring it all out was completely magical. Maybe we’ll get a deluxe edition with some unreleased demos or live recordings one of these days? Pretty please?


Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (3.5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

One Response to Quick Review (LP): U.S. Songs by Elliott

  1. Pingback: LP Review: Song In The Air by Elliott « Sweet Georgia Breezes

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