State Radio - Let It Go
Record Label: Ruff Shod
Release Date:September 29, 2009
State Radio's world is a pretty exciting place. Besides the glorious inferno of the hardcore scene, this fourth studio effort from the Massachusetts trio borrows elements from just about any sound you might find during a night out on Boston. They aren't wholly original, but together they are a talented group of musicians full of creativity and political intelligence.
As an album, this is quite the offering. Straight shooting rock guitars with punk influence but progressive sensibility, reggae jams, and the occasional upstroke to make sure you know they are, in some ways, a Ska band. It might be suicide to throw genres at these guys, but I think the more clever parts of their music are those which transcend these genre elements in order to bring them together so successfully. Chad Urmston's vocals surprised me when they first kicked in a few moments after the opener "Mansin Humanity" began. The leading guitar riff suggests some heavy but still polite rock, which quickly gives into a moving chorus highlighting Urmston's Voice. It turns out to be a very smooth voice for this type of band, and very pleasant. The exception comes with the occasional rasp reminiscent of punk vocalists, which helps tie the sound together. This is perhaps the easiest to describe of the bandís blend of styles.
State Radio pays exceptional attention to musical structure and tone in a way that occasionally reminds me of RX Banditís earlier work. Skaís brilliance is displayed through up stroking guitars in songs like" Doctor Ron the Actor" or the reggae jam "Evolution". Even with all this professionalism, Let It Go is far from perfect. For one, all of these genres State Radio blends into their style have something in commonó they all sound better with hesitant production. These guys are lucky they were able to record in the Long View Farm Studios of Rolling Stones fame, but they may have abused the privilege just a bit. A more raw sound would have given the entire album a little more interest for unfamiliar listeners, and would have more easily sold these guys to big Ska or Punk fans who prefer less production.
In the end, the music isnít what State Radio is about. Their politically uplifting message doesnít despair or even feel angry. Instead, they call call for you to Let It Go in a stand up for your rights kind of way. Thereís no sense of paranoia either, which is quite the accomplishment. State Radio's 2009 release is an interesting album that's definitely worth checking out.