Year Of The Crow review by State Radio

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  • Released: Feb 5, 2008
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.4 (30 votes)
State Radio: Year Of The Crow

Sound — 8
State Radio has politics and war on the brain. The Boston band's latest record Year Of The Crow does seem to be saturated by world issues, which depending on the listener, could be a godsend or plain annoying. Regardless of what you think about the message underneath it all, the music on Year Of The Crow is written skillfully enough that the melodies are strong enough to stand on their own most of the time. You'll immediately know what you're in for lyrically when you see the track listing. The first track Guantanamo is pretty straightforward and hard-to-ignore in terms of it's message, but the musical composition is surprisingly unique and creatively arranged. There are some interesting tempos and mixes within the album, with Guantanamo being a prime example. It's a bit hard to digest at first because of the oddly placed drum beats within it, but it does grow on you. Between the unique percussion, strong harmonies, and the screaming big finish, it's a fascinating opener that gets your attention. Most biographies of State Radio describe them as having heavy reggae influences, and that aspect comes across in tracks like Fight No More and CIA. There are other tracks that feature the acoustic guitar prominently, which combined with laid-back percussion and vocalist's Chad Urmston's (aka Chetro) style, can at times sound like Blind Melon. The Story Of Benjamin Darling is the best example of this sound, which also highlights Chetro's strong multi-part harmonies. It's not until later in the record when the strongest rock riffs make an appearance. As With Gladness starts out as a typical reggae piece, but it quickly develops into a dark, distortion-heavy piece. The peak doesn't come until about halfway through the song, but it's worth the wait. As With Gladness only gives you a little taste of the band's electric licks, but Wicker Plane is carried by a grooving riff through much of the track. It's by far the best track on the CD and not surprisingly was made the first single from the album.

Lyrics — 9
Whether or not you like politically driven bands, State Radio has put a lot of thought into its message on Year Of The Crow. At times the message to Washington is scathing (Torture advocate; Got his dick up in a chicken hawk; Life is what he'll get) to cynical (Did you get the invitation? The swan song of a nation; Everyone's waiting for you inside; We got soda pop and hickory stills), but they never get generic. But again, if political messages are not your cup of tea, State Radio is definitely not the band for you.

Overall Impression — 8
State Radio has been described as a jam band by some, but the trio usually avoids getting too excessive in the solo department. It's obvious that the band put plenty of work into its arrangements, which feature instruments like the cello, piano, and trombone. While the reggae sound can often sound a bit similar in some of the tracks, State Radio usually will dip into a few other styles by the end of the track. Year Of The Crow will not click with everyone because it does feel a bit over-the-top and preachy at times, but State Radio still successfully proved that they have some impressive musical chops.

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This is my favorite album of the 2000's. It's funny though, Wicker plane is my least favorite of the songs, and to me the most generic. I dont know why they made it the single. Gang of thieves, Guantanamo, and CIA are great songs, however, and you should check them out.
    this truly is a great album by a great band. While i strongly disagree with many of their political views, i cant argue that this is brilliant music. I have listened countless times and cant wait untill the next album
    Wow, late review... i think it came out last summer and I got it off their site in October. One of their better albums. They definitely rocked this one in the musical sense and put a lot of genius and variety in it. Some song's aren't the greatest, but others make up for it. Whether you are into the political lyrics or not, you'll find "Fall of the American Empire" a catchy awesome song.
    it came out if you saw them on tour & off their site in September. It got released in CD stores today.
    I think Gang of Thieves is the best song on the album. State Radio has a really unique sound, with their roots from Dispatch and the harder rock added in. They're definitely a band worth checking out.
    best part of this band, there trying to help fix this system, plus they're amazing. to essage no meaning
    isn't this the singer of dispatch's new band? damn, he cut off his hair. this is a sad day for me.
    ahh bananaboy dont worry thats not chad. The picture is of Chuck Fay, the bands bassist. Chad still has his flowing locks...
    I love this cd in a strange way. And the fee downloads of their other cd's (specifically barnyard sessions and peace between nations for me) were really nice. Unfortunates is one of my favorites also. Good review.