State Radio

Us Against the Crown

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Finally getting around to their debut album after nearly four years as a band, State Radio seemingly throw everything in leader Chad Urmston's songbooks onto tape, as if the band can't make up their minds what they want their musical persona to be. A surprising number of these 14 songs, like the opening "People to People," are straight-up reggae, with Urmston working to sound as much like Bunny Wailer as a white boy from Vermont can. Elsewhere, the vibe is more akin to Ted Leo the Pharmacists' nervy updating of late-'70s post-punk of the Specials/Jam/Ruts variety, as on the rocking "Black Cab Motorcade." Then there's a lot of stuff like "Man in the Hall," where the idea is to make jam band grooves for the trustafarians to noodle-dance to. Mixed in with all of these divergent ideas are songs like the genuinely haunting ballad "Riddle in London Town" and the distorted, tense "Calvados Chopper" that don't fit neatly into any particular style and are therefore the most easy to like and memorable tunes on the record. Perhaps on their second album, State Radio will have a clearer idea of where they're going. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi