June 1, 2006

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State Radio, Us Against the Crown
Nettwerk Records, 2006

Years before Pink and Dashboard Confessional thought about leveraging their music to push back against the neocon establishment, Sherborn, Massachusetts-bred singer/activist Chad Stokes had assembled State Radio, a reggae-based indie-rock trio whose music is, if one were relegated to a single descriptor, formidable. There are traces of Police and Marley to be found, absolutely, but Stokes isn’t some community college lout who adopted the style to impress himself; he’s spent time in Zimbabwe, tempering his social idealism with cold reality, returning as an unvarnished prototype for a post-90s indie world where it’s the hooks, stupid. And man do they pour right out, from the hauntingly grabby anti-war rasta-chiller “People to People” to the Bryan Adams-ish power-popper “Mr. Larkin,” whose heartbreaking lyrics tell the story of an elderly man forced to wash dishes in a nursing home so his wife can get end-of-life care at the facility: “Every now and then she’ll squeeze my hand / It’s what I live for / it’s why she don’t die.” Questions? A

Eric W.Sagaer


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