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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The States

The Path Of Least Resistance

Review by Gary Hill

The States have produced an intriguing album. It’s strong, but with a  little different lineup in terms of song sequence it could have been even better. Their music fits basically into alternative rock, but there’s a lot of variation on this. At times they qualify as prog rock. The biggest problem is the first half of the album is extremely diverse, but the last few numbers are too similar. Had they put some of those closing tracks in earlier on the CD, the whole thing would have flowed better. Still, it’s a good album as it is. I look forward to getting to know more of The States’ music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Charm Offensive
The opening piano bit might make you think you've put on a classical music album. As it powers out into the scorching, punky main jam, all shadows of that thought are washed away. This is a catchy cut that has a lot of power-pop along with some emo in the mix. The thing is, it has a lot of modern prog rock like Radiohead in the mix, too.  It's sort of generic pop rock, but at the same time it is fresh and unique. It drops mid-track to a piano based interlude, but it's rock, not classical like the start of the tune. It powers upward from there into something closer to Radiohead. The piece drops down to a techno kind of break after that, but then fires back out into the song proper. This is a dynamic and powerful rocker that works really well.
New Land

Those prog rock leanings are back in spades here. A keyboard based section starts this and the vocals join. When the other instruments come in the first time it resembles Pink Floyd quite a bit. They work through that mode for a while and then drop it back down for another verse. A section takes on textures closer the bulk of the opener, but they bring it back out to the Floydian sounds after a while. This is a dynamic and diverse track that’s quite tasty.

Checkout

There’s a lot of power pop in this. The mellower section has some serious helpings of The Beatles or even ELO and the rest is more powered up and perhaps a bit like Enuff Znuff or Cheap Trick. This is catchy and fun and also very cool. There is a nearly metallic segment on this, too. They take it out to some different territory later and I’m reminded of Queen quite a bit.

The Architect

This is a very intriguing track. It’s got a more modern hard rock sound to it. There’s some incredibly cool little twists and turns, though. The bass line in particular are intriguing. It’s possibly my favorite piece on show here. There’s a spacey section on it that reminds me a bit of Radiohead, too. I also make out bits of Jellyfish at times.

Darkest Hour

Here we have a subtler song. It’s still got plenty of power pop in the mix. I can make out The Beatles, Jellyfish, Queen and Radiohead all in the mix of this. It might not be the most obvious choice to run to the front of the line, but it really is exceptional – and one of the highlights of the set.

All The Salt In The Sea

The arrangement on this is quite lush. In fact, if the whole album were like this I’d probably call it a modern progressive rock. There are multiple layers bringing beauty and drama. It’s a catchy cut and quite a strong one. Some of the same influences are on this, but I mostly hear Radiohead, ELO, Queen and Jellyfish.

Black Jack

This track is no less complex and no less interesting than anything we’ve heard so far. It’s definitely one of the most purely modern alternative rock based cuts, though. This is arguably the most purely original piece on show, too. I like it a lot.

CCTV (I'm A Star)

Post punk and alternative rock meet power pop in this killer cut. It’s another that’s more purely modern and more unique. It’s also high energy and addictive. This might be my favorite number on the set.

8x10

This is another highlight of the disc. It’s not like they’ve reinvented the wheel here, but this Radiohead-like number is especially effective.

Be Good Tonight

Here’s another good track, but by this point there is too much similarity. They did a much better job of varying things earlier in the album.

God's Numbers
Another strong one, the only real issue is that it’s all starting to sound the same. There are some definite punky moments on this cut.
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