Compound Shapes by United Shapes
United Shapes has today released their new album titled ‘Compound Shapes’. From that opening riff and hook on the opening track, ‘Fractalvision’ I knew I was in for a sonic set of surprises. ‘Fractalvision’ is the perfect opener for the album (read our single review HERE).
But what we get from the rest of the album is a solid progression through the quirky musical minds of the dynamic duo from Austin in the form of originality mingled and tangled with creativity from a couple of artists who not only beat their own drum but follow their hearts. To me, this is a time capsule album because, while sounding ahead of its time in many places, it finds its own place in the current era of isolation via the optimism in the music and the reflection in the lyrics.
‘Compound Shapes’ is out as of today (October 16th) on most major platforms (links below).
Where stories of lost records and discoveries of long-defunct cult bands are like catnip to record collectors, the story of Austin’s United Shapes is simultaneously familiar and wholly singular.
“Sixteen years and eight demo albums later, we are releasing our first official studio album,” United Shapes singer/multi-instrumentalist Joseph Devens announced in a recent press release. “The only reason we never released anything before is because neither of us knew how music worked. Also, we were remarkably lazy.”
Devens and bandmate Drew Cave met in the seventh grade at Dripping Springs Middle School, becoming best friends through high school and roommates during and after college at UT Austin. On the last day of high school, Cave suggested they form a band as class let out.
@itspetergabriel Hi there! I love your song "Big Time". I made a cover of it. I hope you like it. theseunitedshapes.com/track/b… #PeterGabriel #coversongs #unitedshapes #bigtime
About 2 months ago from United Shapes's Twitter via Twitter Web App
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About 6 months ago from United Shapes's Twitter via Twitter Web App
theseunitedshapes.com/album/c… It's here!
About 2 years ago from United Shapes's Twitter via Twitter Web App
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Two years later in 2004, their first demo “False Point” was finally made, kicking off a decade and a half of quietly crafting left-of-center, but loveable indie pop songs under the influence of They Might Be Giants, Radiohead, and Danny Elfman film scores.
“Austin is kind of a weird place in that there isn’t really a scene or anything like that to speak of; everybody just sort of does what they want,” says Devens. “That atmosphere probably informed the way we thought about our creativity… but that freedom is also a curse. We just thought [a record] would happen on its own, but Austin is not New York. Austin is a city that sleeps regularly.”
Their long-awaited studio debut, Compound Shapes, couldn’t be more fitting for the duo’s unusual origins. A concept album around compound words, all of Shapes’ song titles and lyrics center around compound words and the people that appreciate their collisions into new meanings.
Album opener “Fractalvision” and lead single “Peppermint” are a one-two punch of Devo-esque twists and turns, the latter made especially sinister with its Fargo-esque murder mystery visuals animated by Devens himself.
“We didn’t want the album to be about the compound words in the titles in a literal sense,” Devens adds. “We decided to let the word inspire the song and its lyrics in an abstract way.
With Compound Shapes as the name of the album, we were free to draw lots of interesting literal compound shapes and place them wherever we wanted.”
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