State Radio’s ‘Let It Go’ rocks for a cause
Mary Claire O'Donnell | Tuesday, October 6, 2009
For years, singers and songwriters have been using their music to inspire their audiences to action. They deliver their message wrapped up in powerful and expressive melodies. Their words sing about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and they can change the world. State Radio’s Chad Stokes Urmston, Chuck Fay, and Mike “Mad Dog” Najarian attempt to live up to these ideals, and indeed do a fantastic job in their recent album, “Let It Go.”
The socio-politically driven band hailing from Boston is made up of action-driven members who are dedicated to social service and political activism. Before starting State Radio, Urmston was a member of indie band Dispatch, which was also dedicated to social activism. Dispatch disbanded in 2002, though it has had many successful reunions since. State Radio’s songs tell gripping stories that greatly affect listeners, and the band offers opportunities for their fans to act upon these feelings by helping them raise awareness or by participating in different social service projects.
It has been said that State Radio does not have a touring schedule, but rather an action calendar. In every town they visit on tour, the band continues their service and activism and often joins forces with organizations like Amnesty International or Oxfam America. The band definitely practices what they preach, either by riding bikes to concerts to raise support for Bikes Not Bombs or by hosting food drives to help Rock For A Remedy.
Not only does the band perform numerous other good works, but singer and songwriter Urmston also weaves intelligent and moving lyrics that combine with evocative melodies to produce beautiful, inspiring songs. It is not every band that can mix references from the Civil War (“Held Up By The Wires”) and references to Homer’s Odyssey (“Blood Escaping Man”) on one CD, all while rousing their listeners to public service and awareness of political issues.
The album kicks off with “Mansin Humanity,” a story of the genocide occurring in Armenia. The title is actually a mispronunciation of the opening lyrics, “man’s inhumanity,” the theme of the song. The lyrics tell a chilling and heart-wrenching story of suffering. Crying out “please sir, there’s women and children, they lie where they fell – they’ve done nothing wrong,” Urmston employs disturbing yet moving imagery to rouse anger and disbelief and to encourage his listeners to take action to stop it.
“Calling All Crows,” the next song on the album, furthers this message of action. Calling All Crows (callingallcrows.org) is the name of the band’s organization, which attempts to mobilize fans and listeners to promote human rights, specifically focusing on ending violence against women and inspiring public service. Although not specific to any one course of action, the song fits in well with the general theme of the album. The track has a great mellow beat and catchy lyrics, making the song an excellent choice either for blasting on a long car ride or for listening to while tackling piles of homework.
One of the best tracks on the album, “Knights of Bostonia” is an almost anthemic ode to Boston, Urmston’s hometown. The song hearkens back to his childhood in Boston and his meeting of Najarian while Urmston was drumming on a bucket outside Fenway Park. Inspired by the style of The Clash, “Knights” evokes many well-known images of Boston with its rocking tune and witty lyrics, stirring pangs of homesickness in the average Bostonian away from home.
“Let It Go” delivers great music with smart lyrics. The melodies combine reggae, rock and pop-punk beats in an exceptional album that can be listened to often and is appropriate for any occasion. Furthermore, for a limited time only, the band is offering “Let It Go” and “Live At The Brattle Theater,” 29 additional tracks, for only $14.99 on iTunes.