10 Great State-of-the-Nation Albums

The new Dan Deacon album was released yesterday, and it’s perhaps the last thing we would have expected from a man once so interested in the idea of music as a purely sonic entity, devoid of any narrative or greater meaning: it’s a loose concept album about America. Deacon has written some interesting stuff about the ideas behind the album, which is entitled simply America, on his website, noting that “The inspiration for the music was my love of cross-country travel, seeing the landscapes of the United States, going from east to west and back again over the course of seasons,” while “The lyrics are inspired by my frustration, fear and anger towards the country and world I live in and am a part of.” The result is a fascinating state-of-the-nation album, a record that’s both personal and also vocal about the country of its creator. In celebration of its release, here are some of our favorite albums that address similar subject matter.

Sly and the Family Stone — There’s a Riot Goin’ On

The narrative around this album has been well-documented: Sly takes a load of drugs, holes up in his Bay Area studio and makes an album that abandons his ’60s positivity for an apocalyptic vision of a country on fire. There’s certainly an argument to be made that There’s a Riot Goin’ On’s bleakness mirrors its era, a time when the free-love ’60s had reached its high water mark, in Hunter S Thompson’s immortal phrase, and the wave had well and truly broken and rolled back.