Despite legal issues, the band known as United Nations soldiers on. The band released their second album of sorts. It’s a mixture of some older material and some newer stuff, with the older songs not seeing a widespread, legit release until now. The Next Four Years was released by Temporary Residence Recordings, who have some past times with Geoff Rickley. Rather than go the traditional route, which both Temporary Residence and United Nations are known for; taking the road less traveled, The Next Four Years was released as a box set limited to 1000 copies featuring three different formats inside for the same album.
The album is split amongst three four separate items; a 10” record, two 7” records and one cassette. It starts off on the first 7”, moves its way to the second 7”, then to the cassette and wraps up on the 10”. The first 7” features two songs, one on each side; “Serious Business” and “Meanwhile On Main Street.” The second 7” features four song, two on each side; with “Revolutions at Varying Speeds” and “False Flags” on the a-side (which in the grand scheme of things is the c-side) and “United Nations Finds God” and “Between Two Mirrors” on the b-side (which in the grand scheme of things is the d-side). The cassette features three songs, which repeat on both sides, which is a great touch because you don’t ever have to rewind the tape. I’m sure quite a few people who read this blog have no idea how tapes work, but those of us growing up prior to the late 90s should know. My first car had a tape player and every car I rode in growing up had a tape player too. You kids these days make play lists, we used to make mix tapes. Anyway, the cassette has “F*ck The Future,” ‘Stole The Past” and United Nations vs. United Nations.” Lastly, the 10” features two songs, one on each side; “F#A#$” and “Music For Changing Parties.” One interesting fact about some of the records in the box set; the second 7” was recorded to be played at either 33 rpm or 45 rpm and the b-side of the 10” has concentric grooves, which play different versions of the song depending on where the needle starts on the record. So every time you play the record you get a different listening experience.
The Next Four Years is the best release so far this year (That I have. I have yet to buy the deluxe Led Zeppelin re-presses yet, but I suspect those will top this United Nations album). The aforementioned legal issues are one of the highlights of this box set. The cassette comes wrapped in a copy of the actual cease-and-desist letter THE United Nations, you know, the political organization that basically oversees the entire world, sent the band trying to get them to spot using everything associated with their image (name, logo, etc.) On the reverse side of the C&D letter is the band’s apparent “response” to the UN, which one can only assume is not real and was never actually sent in response or published formally anywhere.
The art layout of the box is meant to replicate old New York Times newspapers. It’s a die-cut box that closes like an envelope, similar in style to the Circa Survive b-sides 7” and The Horrible Crowes – Elsie 7”. The faux newspaper features loads of full-length articles that are obviously fictitious and meant to raise eyebrows. Each box is also hand numbered (again, /1000), which is done inside the box itself; once you open it to slide out the audio formats you will see the numbering. And as if the three different formats and four different items weren’t enough oddity for you, the album comes in an LP sized box despite an LP not being utilized for this album.
The 7″s and 10″ features exclusive artwork by an acclaimed group of fine artists and designers, including STEAK MTN (second 7”), Victoria Burge (10”), MrThe (first 7”), and Jeremy deVine (first 7”). The 10” comes with an insert and the two 7” records are half fold sleeves, which have the lyrics printed on the inside. The packaging is great but unfortunately there is a glaring error with this box set, as there is a pressing error with the first 7”. The first 7” has the a-side of the second 7”, so the song “Serious Business” does not appear on any of the physical formats found in the box set. It’s a pressing error that should have been caught somewhere. Temporary Residence should have played some of the final copies that came into their office before sending all of them out. It would have been a minor hassle to wait longer in order to have the proper release, it would have been much better than sending out a botched record that results in people not getting to listen to the full album. The plant or Temporary Residence will be sending out corrected Serious Business 7”s to everyone who ordered. There is no timetable on when the correct 7”s will start being sent out. ***EDIT – On August 21 I received my corrected 7″. I did not receive any notification that the replacement was sent out, and neither did anyone else. I did not contact Temporary Residence about a corrected 7″, it just showed up on my doorstep. Other people report the same situation.***
In mid August 2014 it became known that a standard LP version of The Next Four Years will be pressed, which is slated to be released in late October 2014. There are three variants for the standard single LP pressing, 418 copies on half white/half black, either 481, 491 or 500 copies on blood red with black oil splatter and an unknown amount on black. Temporary Residence will like keep this record in print on black vinyl for a while if not do a re-pressing on new colors at some point down the road. They do a good job of keeping their albums in print.
The blood red with black is an indie record store exclusive, and some stores also included a free bonus 7″ while their supply of said free 7″ lasted. I said above this variant was limited to either 481, 491 or 500 because I have seen both of those numbers used but have not heard official numbers from Temporary Residence. I saw some record stores advertise the variant as being /500, and saw some internet chatter that the number is actually lower than 500, hence the /448. The bonus 7″ included with some record store purchases is practically the same in every way as the one replacement”Serious Business” 7″ that was given to everyone who bought the box set. Except for needing a 45 adaptor to play it, so a large center hole record, it has the same track listing, same center labels and comes in just a plain white paper dust sleeve. No jacket/sleeve is included with the free bonus 7″, and every indie record store in the country did not give them away. I know the ones that did either had it taped to the LP’s that were in the racks at the store, or had it behind the counter and you would get it when you checked out. As far as my knowledge goes, this free bonus 7″ was a U.S. exclusive and wasn’t done overseas.
The half white/half black copies were exclusive to Temporary Residence mail-order, and took a surprising amount of time to sell out. I know there were quite a number of people holding out for a standard LP pressing of this album, but since it took a while for it to actually be announced, some of those people could have caved and bought the box set version out of fear of not being able to buy this record on vinyl at all. Odds are out of the 1,000 or so people who bought the box set, a majority of them did not buy the standard LP pressing, otherwise it would have sold out almost immediately, or at least a lot faster than the month or so it did actually take for it to sell out.
The standard LP comes with a download code just like the box set pressing, but that is where the similarities end, obviously. An insert is include with the standard LP, which is different from anything included with the box set. This insert is small in size for an LP, and in reality it’s a 7″ insert, as in one that would be used for 7″ records. It’s a double-sided insert, with a bit of liner notes on one side and an image on the reverse side. The album art for the single LP is inspired by the Black Flag album The First Four Years.
For the photo gallery below, everything before the LP is included with the box set pressing, and everything from the LP and after is part of the standard LP pressing.