Like a Bump on a Pickle
Peanut butter and jelly? Obvious. Long johns and winter? Necessary. A pop and reggae hybrid? Interesting. Chad Stokes didn’t waste any time after the breakup of his first band, Dispatch. He collected Chuck Fay from Philadelphia and Brian Sayers, a drummer from Stokesâ€šÃ„Ã´s native Boston, and formed State Radio. The new sound featured on their debut, Us Against the Crown, combines reggae beats with a pop overtone and politically motivated lyrics. While most certainly inspired by Bob Marley, the end product is wholly nostalgic of Dispatch.
Crown‘s kickoff, “People to People,” sports a carefree reggae beat with matching lyrics promoting inner strength. To fit the Marley mold even further, Stokes has conjured a Jamaican accent that sounds surprisingly believable. Contrastively, the second track, “Mr. Larkin,” is more pop and rock inspired with peppy bass lines and a clean and reliable chorus. The variance in intonations between these two pieces is remarkable; first impressions may forge the illusion there exists two different singers.
While musically organic and enlivening, State Radio brings out a darker side with their lyrics. “Camilo” is the dead ringer to Stokesâ€šÃ„Ã´s previous endeavors with Dispatch. Slurred melodies that test the rhythm laid harmonically are the foreground to the story of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia, who was jailed for refusing to return to Iraq. “Punish me for not taking your orders/But don’t lock me up for not leaving my home.”
State Radio should be commended for their freshman effort. Occasionally the tracks appear campy due to the contrived formats, however the combination of genres works. Like blue cheese with pizza, the culmination may seem awkward, however it may evolve to hand in hand.