The Union Trade
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The Union Trade

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Rock Post-rock




"A Closer Listen Review"

“Having skated on the edges of instrumental post-rock for nearly a decade, the band now goes “mostly unpeopled.” The result is a triumphant new set. Fans will still recognize the sweeping grandeur of the guitar-led soundscape, but the male voice has been replaced by Silver Swans’ Ann Yu, and is used only sparingly.” - A Closer Listen

"Foreign Accents Review"

On the one hand The Union Trade are a muscular (but not particularly heavy) post-rock group, on the other they can craft fatalistic shoegaze lullabies anchored by dreamy guitars… “ - Foreign Accents

"The SF Bay Guardian Review"

Feb 6, 2008

Lofty, sweeping chords and the deliberate, steadfast pace of the Union Trade tell the tale of a band that eschews flair and fireworks for an intricate, drawn-out listening experience in the vein of Explosions in the Sky. Critics like to lash out against post-rock wanderers for their "long-winded" and "pretentious" takes on rock, but while San Francisco's Trade perform with no shortage of confidence, they guard against swimming into melodious abstraction on their tightly composed EP Now the Swell (Tricycle, 2007). (Kevin Lee)

-SF Bay Guardian - The SF Bay Guardian

"The Bay Bridged"

“The single, “Drakes Passage,” is a slow burn – a driving piece that builds upon steady anthemic jams, punctuated by a triumphant drumbeat. The single features Nate Blaz from Geographer on cello, which adds a lovely, solemn layer of melody to the song’s intricate structure.” - The Bay Bridged

"West Coast Performer Magazine"

“Shoegazing” has always had a double connotation. It’s not clear whether the genre’s typically shy performers are hiding behind the wall-of-sound catharsis erupting from their amplifiers or just overly involved with the myriad guitar pedals scattered at their feet. Regardless, San Francisco’s The Union Trade deliver on both fronts with their debut EP, Now the Swell, combining instrumental wizardry and production tweaks to propel their moody message.
Opener “Strings Break” starts out with a chiming guitar echo that recalls the plaintive jangle of early Sarah Records bands like The Sweetest Ache and St. Christopher. Even the lyrics embody the haute melancholia popularized by the Bristol indie label, telling of a girl that likes the sound of the singer’s guitar strings breaking.
“Hopeless” manages to evoke despair in its lament over unrequited love, though the line, “I just want this / I don’t know why / I just want this / For the longest time,” certainly isn’t the most charismatic way to win someone over.
The band’s real strength lies in their temperamental, crescendo-building layers of guitar work. This feat is exemplified best on the justly titled “Violent and Beautiful,” which stirs up a Mogwai-like hornets nest of febrile energy atop haunting piano and strings. “Green Fields” closes the EP in a similar vein with gloomy ruminations giving way to piercing howls and more strings that alternately crash and subside like waves — a strong first swell in what will hopefully be a set. (Tricycle Records)

-Andrew Kersey

- Performer Magazine

"Zero Magazine Review"

San Francisco band The Union Trade’s debut EP opens with a beautiful post-rock number called “Strings Break.” The song’s main lyric, “She likes the sound your guitar makes,” which gets repeated throughout, couldn’t be more appropriate: in post-rock, lead guitar may be less about spectacle than feeling, but it’s still king. The title to the next song, “Violent and Beautiful,” is another example of good word choice. This one opens with a majestic swell of bass, drums, guitar, and keyboards before shifting to a more caustic mode after four minutes. After building to another grand crescendo, it comes to an abrupt stop just before the seven-minute mark. Next, the somber “Hopeless,” shows that the group can operate as a more traditional indie rock group, trading atmosphere and length for brevity and a focus on vocals.

The EP concludes with “Green Fields,” which feels like a blend of “Hopeless” and “Strings Break” and features some of the disc’s most inspired, head-nodding moments scattered among its nine drawn-out minutes. While the Union Trade are playing for a niche audience, they certainly prove they’ve got some skills. Fans of groups like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky should investigate.

- Nate Seltenrich

"Losing Today Review"

Depending on which way you want to look at it, ‘Now The Swell’ is either Low on speed or Deftones on downers. Either way, hopefully that should sound enticing enough to encourage a listen. ‘The Union Trade’ are in the business of creating moody guitar soundscapes with voice added sparingly, as is the case with ‘Strings Break’. The track begins life as down-tempo meets shoegaze with a vaguely optimistic jangle-plucked guitar and an introspective vocal reminiscent of a nervy Michael Stipe, but before too long the chin is raised and the guitars begin their slow-burning surge to a swirling crescendo.

‘Strings Break’ is intended to be the lead track, but to these ears it isn’t the strongest. That honour goes to ‘Violent and Beautiful’, which is exactly that; a mountainous post-rock behemoth that adds layer upon layer of intensity, swelling the sound until you’re thinking it just can’t get any louder, and then it adds some more. A muffled and mumbled vocal makes a brief and half-hearted attempt to join the voluminous throng but ultimately sounds like Ian Curtis spitting in the wind, as the band head further skywards.

‘Hopeless’, once again contemplative and down-tempo, is the most concise song here and the most radio-friendly, but consequently it sounds a little out of place.

‘Green Fields’ hints at REM jamming with Explosions In The Sky and plays to the bands strengths, with a swooning vocal acting as a calm before the storm as the predictable guitar barrage takes over. This pattern is repeated and stretched with string orchestration adding a touch of grandeur, as if it were needed.

As well as being a good description of their musical template, ‘Now The Swell’ demonstrates that The Union Trade are able exponents of widescreen alternative rock, falling somewhere between The Workhouse and ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ era U2. Having said that it’s a shame Mr Eno wasn’t available to help them enhance that band-playing-on-a-windswept-prairie sound. But, of course, that’s just nitpicking.


"Heave Media Review: 7 out of 10"

We Cry The Union Forever:
The Union Trade offers a big sound on their second release
By: Amy Dittmeier

On their MySpace page, the San Francisco group The Union Trade describe themselves as rock, shoegazer, and experimental. Everything Including isn’t the exact definition of those post-rock genres but more of a fusion of all of them. After their 2007 EP Now the Swell and a swell in popularity on the indie rock scene The Union Trade has refined their sound into something more emotion-heavy and vibrant. The album is never too experimental and instead takes on a more poppy and conventional form of experimental music. This doesn’t help or hinder Everyday Including. It instead creates a more diversified album. The track “Talk” has that laid back shoegazer sound to it, never pushing the tempo too much but full of echoing guitar solos. It uses experimental elements that aren’t that uncommon in more progressive rock bands, such as ethereal undertones and spastic soloing.

But there’s also this mainstream rock element to “Talk” that really calls forth comparison to the later work of Further Seems Forever. Not so much in lyrics but more so in tone and tempo. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Further Seems Forever album How to Start a Fire has re-entered my life but there are certain elements of it that are present in Everyday Including. They both have this similar quality that’s both uplifting and hopeful, but without being too overly emotional to the point where it becomes a bad Dashboard Confessional album. Even if the tone of a song may be a more melancholy than another, there’s still a more spirited approach to it.

“Epic” may not be the most accurate word but Everyday Including has this grandiose sound to it that goes above and beyond a normal rock song. “Strings Break” starts off softly and grows into this beautiful piece of music with voices softly singing “She likes the sound” over and over again. It has this huge sound, which many of The Union Trade’s songs do on this album. The only drawback of this huge sound is the slower tempo that comes with it. The shoegazer genre often showcases slower, more pensive tempos but there’s still enough action within the song to make it not sound overly slow. However this happens to some of the tracks on Everyday Including. Many of the tracks stay within a certain time signature but don’t offer enough to make each as memorable as they should be. Overall it makes Everyday Including a good album instead of a great one, but still a fantastic collection of impassioned songs made with real talent. -

" out of 10"

I’m not a huge fan of shoe-gaze music, but it certainly can have its moments. The Union Trade, a quartet from San Francisco, doesn’t quite fit comfortably into the genre, but the release of EVERYDAY INCLUDING, its first full length project, shows a nodding familiarity with the genre’s stronger points while paying attention to the elements that bands which work that particular minefield normally ignore.

Sure, the bonafides of the sub-genre are there, what with the vocals mixed way down and muddy into the swamp of sound, and the lead guitar riffs which are more sculpted than played, ala Edge or Tom Verlaine. But there’s attention paid to the basics, like songwriting, and dynamics, so that you don’t slap EVERYDAY including on the player and then wonder, sixty minutes later, what has been going on. Otherwise tracks like “Self Possession” and “Talk” would just kind of meld into each other. They don’t; somebody is paying attention here. “Accident Prone” sounds a bit like Snow Patrol and “For The Resilient,” I swear, sounds like it was, uh, influenced by “Imitation of Christ” by The Psychedelic Furs. The Velvet Underground-like “Strings Break,” the cinematic “Violent and Beautiful,” and the Echo & Bunnymen-like “Talk” keep the changes coming.

These guys do a lot with two guitars/vocals, bass, and drums. The strength is in their songwriting --- nice work, guys --- and attention to the finer details. And while the argument over burying the vocals and treating them like just another instrument, as opposed to putting them up front, has been going on since the Rolling Stones released AFTERMATH, burying them seems to work, however improbably, here. And if you were thinking of slitting your wrists on a rainy Saturday afternoon, slapping EVERYDAY INCLUDING into the player would drag you back from the precipice. Gently. Recommended. -

""Simply amazing and simply essential""

The first full-length album from The Union Trade debuts their cinematic post-rock experience that is mapped out with crafty climaxes and dips into caverns of lows. Cheering on the recent wave of minor key grandeur in indie rock, The Union Trade seem destined to swiftly pour their influence into the pores of songwriters across the States. Dense walls of guitar are glazed and spackled with inflections of sound effects and distortion. Their record label, Tricycle Records, better make sure they have a solid contract in place with these folks as the Union Trade is easily the next Coldplay. As emotional as it could get, �Everyday Including� is a transcendental album awash in guitar fuzzy logic and hugely catchy triumphs. Simply amazing and simply essential. Own it and friend them on myspace. - Smother Magazine

" 7 out of 10"

Post-rock bands existed long before the genre was ever given a name; in subsequent years, many have expressed indignation that such a label would be stamped upon them. And for a specific subset of the larger gamut of experimental rock music, describing a band as post-rock certainly doesn't pigeonhole anyone's sound. While the Union Trade is described as post-rock, I doubt that they embrace the label either. They can be detached and emotional, loud and gentle, engaging and diverting. While their sound is nothing new, at least they've made it inviting and (gasp) catchy enough for those who dont even know what post-rock is.

The band's debut LP, Everyday Including, is an album full of rising approaches, whispers turned to roars, rarely arriving at the appropriate pinnacle, and often ending without visceral satisfaction. Unpredictability can be an admirable trait, and it’s not an absolute defeat here, but by treading the waters between a full-circle anthem and an intentionally bluff bathos, they risk disappointing their audience. It’s tough to decide whether a rebellious spirit keeps them from the sometimes commonplace formula of a pop song or if its simple indifference, but since the Union Trade is clearly attracted to melody far more than most other post-rock heroes (and losers), it is a curio.

Opener Self Possession builds to what could have been a striking climax, but in true genre form, it never soars, choosing instead to remain grounded within the humbling haze of disinterested guitar fuzz. But then Talk goes for the gusto, sending the once impenetrable musical wash high above, guitars screaming in the arcing sound that Secret Machines aimed for on Ten Silver Drops. But again, the climax never truly arrives, ending just when you think the grand moment was at the doorstep. At least they understand that an epic rock song need not stretch into double digit minutes; maybe it's best that the grand choruses are missing. If it took four minutes to build up to that point, imagine if they followed the standard ABABCB structure.

Later tracks mostly function as slow-build, shoegaze-lite anthems that struggle against the conceited rules of the genre ”no hooks." The repetition of "She likes the sound"? at the culmination of Strings Break? acts like a rallying cry, but is unworthy of the once sparse and now dense guitar triumph. The Nights Are Getting Longer lasts a minute it's all buildup, no payoff; in context with the rest of the record, this track feels even more incomplete than any other anti-climactic moment. "Crescent"? ignores these restrictions almost entirely, even embracing the tried-but-true method of repeating words to keep up with the rhythm of the sparkling guitars that open most of these songs.

Most of these treatments follow a pattern: open intimate, end epic. While hardly a unique method, it's more intriguing than sounding like so many other dime-a-dozen rock bands out there. But the sameness of this approach, while never dull, makes it difficult to separate some of the songs. Granted, that might have been the Union Trade's intention, but if so, why not let the tracks flow into each other instead of often ending rather abruptly after the reverb turns down and the towering wail flashes its late-song dominance? A broad lyrical theme might have helped pull it all together, but it's difficult to make any sense out of the words other than that singer Nate Munger "cares"? but can do nothing about it.

Post-rock in all of its forms is rarely remembered for lyrical milestones. On the rare occasion when words are used at all (this is, after all, music more interested in the landscape than any foreground companions), it’s usually cryptic poetry half-mumbled as forgettable cues to their “avant-garde� predilection. Munger murmurs, “I wish I would not break/Every time you trust/But sometimes I embrace/The darkness and the rush� on “Accident Prone.� The overly self-aware and turgid statement of “Caught between myself and each defeat/Despite all odds/Hope against hope against hope� on “For the Resilient� is hardly a groan-worthy declaration, but it certainly doesn’t summon up a rash of thoughts and emotions in the listener. They’re vague statements only half-sung beneath distortion. If they’d been delivered with angst-ridden soppiness or aching sincerity, they’d be laughable. That they’re little more than a guide pin for the next direction the music takes, they fit in just fine.

What makes the Union Trade stand apart from most of their post-rock brethren such as Slint, Cul de Sac and Mogwai is an inherent tunefulness. Even when the songs end in anti-climactic disappointment, the journey is still worth taking. At times, Everyday Including even brushes up against pop music, particularly on the practically predictable but fervently melodic “For the Resilient.� Most of the other groups that managed to exist within post-rock’s broad definition while remaining willing to adhere to pop’s most basic and fundamental laws did so with the experimental instrumentation, structuring and recording (Laika and Stereolab especially). But the Union Trade, despite the occasional touch of piano keys and the frequent drum pounding, is a guitar-driven outfit.

Actually, the Union Trade most resembles a kinder and gentler version of the early days of Spacemen 3 and Ride. Those groups knew how to push walls of huge, trembling guitars against the front of the speakers so the drone of the vocals was little more than an extra instrument. But despite loud sonic experiments on “Violent and Beautiful� and “Like Minded,� the Union Trade sacrifices originality for classical texture; true-fashioned rock songs awash in the so-called misery of the noise rock aesthetic. Maybe they’re just making the dinosaur of rock and roll sorta interesting again. If it was their intent to make spacey, cinematic music into something like Coldplay by way of indie noise pioneers, they have succeeded.

In the glut of generic formula in rock music, the Union Trade is a welcome relief. Although they haven’t crafted anything truly remarkable here, it’s impossible to deny that the vibrant guitars craft some lush and enveloping soundscapes. Ambitious and musically blunt, Everyday Including lacks grandness and originality, but this is a complete album, which, despite an unfortunate lack of variety, keeps the listener’s attention all the way through without ever becoming truly immediate or mesmerizing.
- Just Press Play

""Reminds you of why you loved My Bloody Valentine""

I can see why The Union Trade wouldn't be to everyones taste, they don't make three minute pop anthems and they certainly don't do punk pop tracks in their skinny jeans and converse boots, it's a far more mature post-rock sound that these guys give us instead. The end result is an album that you can immerse yourself in and become lost in, sit daydreaming while it's playing or have it in the back ground while you concetrate on something, it has that there, but yet inobtrusive feel to it.

There are elements of shoe-gazing to go with the post-rock, but even this is done in as sonic, maverick style that reminds you of why you loved My Bloody Valentine, early Ride and Spacemen 3, it's building up a soundscape and walls of noise on tracks like Strings Break, Talk (with some lovely soaring guitar by the way) and the brilliant Violent And Beautiful.

On other tracks they build things up even slower, keeping the tension in the track for as long as possible, the epic feel to the opener Self Possession is the first example of it, but it's most effective on Upstream which has a hushed quality to it. The Nights Are Getting Longer is the only frustrating track for me, which opens with piano and drums and just as you are about to start getting into it, it finishes.

As I've said earlier, it won't be for everyone and a lot of people will feel no doubt that it's not immediate enough, but if you are a fan of any of the reference points I've used in this review then I think you'll find an album from The Union Trade that you quickly grow to love. - The Beat Surrender (UK)


"A Place of Long Years" LP
2015 Tricycle Records
Release Date:  Feb 3rd 2015
Vinyl / Audio CD / Digital Download

1. Mineral King
2. In The Empire of Giants
3. Sailing Stones
4. Drakes Passage
5. Marfa Lights
6. Murmurations
7. Svalbard
8. Strangers and Names
9. Dead Sea Transform

> More Info Here

"Why We Need Night" EP
2011 Tricycle Records
Released Feb 8th 2011

1. Why We Need Night
2. Headlands
3. Hawk vs. Crow
4. This is What Happens
5. Aurelia

> More Info Here

"Everyday Including"  LP
2008 Tricycle Records
This record can be heard on Pandora Radio and Spotify etc...

1. Self Possession
2. Talk
3. Accident Prone
4. For The Resilient
5. Strings Break
6. Upstream
7. The Nights Are Getting Longer
8. Violent and Beautiful
9. Like Minded
10. Crescent
11. Everyday Including Holidays

> More Info Here


"As emotional as it could get, “Everyday Including” is a transcendental album awash in guitar fuzzy logic and hugely catchy triumphs. Simply amazing and simply essential."

– Smother Magazine

"There are elements of shoe-gazing to go with the post-rock, but even this is done in as sonic, maverick style that reminds you of why you loved My Bloody Valentine, early Ride and Spacemen 3"

– The Beat Surrender


"Now The Swell" EP
(2007 Tricycle Records)

Track Listing
1. Strings Break (Single)
2. Violent & Beautiful
3. Hopeless
4. Green Fields

> More Info Here

"Now The Swell is the perfect find for those of us who obsessively pore through music in search of aural enjoyments to add the soundtracks of our lives."

-The Owl Magazine



To date, San Francisco based The Union Trade’s sound has lived somewhere between the instrumental rock sound of bands like Explosions In the Sky, Caspian and This Will Destroy You and a more vocal driven shoegaze sound. On their upcoming sophomore full-length album, “A Place of Long Years”, set for release February 3rd 2015 on Tricycle Records, The Union Trade make a natural progression into the true instrumental post-rock realm they first explored on the track “Everyday Including Holidays” from their debut 2008 LP Everyday Including (Tricycle).

After a nearly three year hiatus following the release of their last studio release, the 2011 EP Why We Need Night, the band began to write again, but this time without a drummer. In this slower, quieter process, the founding trio of Don Joslin, Nate Munger and Eric Salk found space to begin composing what would develop into an entirely instrumental set of songs to be finalized with the singular energy of new drummer Eitan Anzenberg.

The result is A Place of Long Years, a cinematic post-rock album that explores the power of places physical and psychic and the awe of phenomena both mysterious and natural.  With this inspiration The Union Trade have created a collection of diverse and moving soundscapes that remain mostly unpeopled, sometimes achingly so, while they abound with emotions intimate and epic. 

With in-studio contributions from Tricycle labelmates Nate Blaz on Cello (Geographer) and Ann Yu (Silver Swans) hauntingly spare vocals, The Union Trade have made an instrumental statement that stakes out new ground for a band ready to re-emerge into the growing instrumental rock scene.

The new LP, “A Place of Long Years”, was released February 3rd, 2015 via Tricycle Records and available on Limited Edition Vinyl, CD, Digital.

Band Members