The States's razor-edged rock has the uncanny ability to evoke Radiohead-like dreamscapes, Zeppelin-inspired bombast, and an Orwellian political sensibility...often in the same song. Their new EP, "We Are The Erasers," produced by Chris Grainger (Wilco, Switchfoot) and available September 22, is both intimate and grandiose, at home equally in an echoing arena and in your own headphones.
The band's inventive songwriting has earned accolades from the John Lennon Songwriting Contest (Grand Prize Winners) and the International Songwriting Contest (Winners), and it has been featured on VH1's "The Hills," ESPN's "Baseball Tonight," and MTV's "The Real World." In July 2009 the band will film a video at the Vans Warped Tour 2009 with the John Lennon Bus.
Behind the music is an unconventional lineup: a Harvard-educated singer/guitarist (Chris Snyder), a punk/acid-jazz/prog- influenced drummer (Joe Stroll), and a sonic experimentalist bassist armed with an arsenal of fuzz pedals (Pete Connors).
Chris Snyder (Vocals and Guitar)
Joe Stroll (Drums)
Pete Connors (Bass Guitar)
We Are The Erasers (EP; 9/22/09; Genious Collective Records)
1. Our Time is Up
2. The Fight
The Path of Least Resistance (LP; 2007; Genious Collective Records)
1. Charm Offensive
2. New Land
4. The Architect
5. Darkest Hour
6. All the Salt in the Sea
7. Black Jack
8. CCTV (I'm a Star)
10. Be Good Tonight
11. God's Numbers
Multiply Not Divide (LP; 2005; Genious Collective Records)
1. 100 Years War
3. Bad Magnets
5. So Near
6. Right as Rain
9. Multiply not Divide
10. Rocket Science
Emmett Brown (EP; 2005)
1. Multiply Not Divide
Modern Medicine (EP; 2004)
1. 100 Years War
4. Right as Rain
Moons & Magnets (EP; 2004; Honey Records)
1. Bad Magnets
2. So Near
Boston Globe: "States of the Art"
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July 20, 2007 The States of the art Brooklyn trio explores politics and social change without st...July 20, 2007
The States of the art
Brooklyn trio explores politics and social change without stridency
By Marc Hirsh, Globe Correspondent
Chris Snyder, singer and guitarist of Brooklyn three-piece the States, is on the phone talking about what he refers to as his band's breakthrough. After intra-band discussions and arguments about politics convinced the members that they needed to incorporate those issues into their songwriting, they were unsure how to go about it. Then came "Black Jack," about a certain disgraced Washington lobbyist, and a solution revealed itself.
"The first half of the song is literally Jack Abramoff singing to some imagined listener," says Snyder. "In some ways he's singing to us, these 20-something idealist kids. Then the second half of the song is the kid taking the mike and telling him, 'Oh, Jack, you really are an [bad word]. Stop trying to defend yourself.' "
"And at that point," he continues, "we said to ourselves, ' OK, well, now this makes sense. We can write songs from the point of view of people who are in the middle of political issues, and that's a way to talk about something without having to take a side.' It allows us to explore the ambiguities there."
The tactic seems to have worked. "Black Jack" went on to win an important prize for the rock category in last year's John Lennon Songwriting Contest and serves as the centerpiece for the upcoming "The Path of Least Resistance" (due out on Aug. 14). It also opened the door for the States to explore topics like gentrification ("New Land") and nation-building ("The Architect") without resorting to stridency or sloganeering.
The States will preview the new album at Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square tomorrow, and it will be something of a homecoming. The band formed in 2002 when Harvard student Snyder passed his four-track home demos around the dorms. Bassist (and fellow social studies major) Previn Warren took notice, and soon the two were playing with drummer Ian MacKenzie.
The States met with enough success outside the university -- they won music site Buzzplay.com's Best Unsigned Band Competition in 2004 -- that heading to New York after graduation seemed like a no-brainer. Snyder insists that there wasn't ever a question.
"That was the only thing that I really wanted to do," he says. "Honest to God, it didn't occur to me to do anything else. And we moved to New York because we figured, 'Let's not be wimps about this. Let's move to the city where it would be the most difficult to make something like this work.' And New York, it is that place, a gazillion bands all trying to make it, which is exciting."
Once there, MacKenzie dropped out amicably (he and Snyder are still roommates) and the band took out a Craigslist ad for a replacement. Joe Stroll, who took the spot, was the only person who responded.
"He made up for any roughness around the edges with just sheer talent. He's an absolute animal behind the kit," Snyder says. "I would never write Joe's drum parts. I'm not capable of doing it. And I think in some ways, that's what happens when a real quote-unquote 'band' comes together, not just somebody who wrote some songs and has a few guys playing with him. When you would not have even thought to write the parts that the other guys are writing, that's when some interesting stuff is happening."
With Stroll's manic abandon rubbing up against the classical training of Warren and Snyder (who began playing violin at the age of 5 ), there's an urgency running through "The Path of Least Resistance" that's apparent even on such non political songs as "All the Salt in the Sea," which romanticizes a vision of a stranger on a subway. With its echoing, anthemic guitars and booming drums, the album captures a symphonic sound at times markedly different from the streamlined power trio of the States' live show.
"We decided that we were comfortable making a record that was very challenging to pull off in a live situation," Snyder says. "The kind of beauty that you can get out of a song on the record is a different thing from the kind of experience that you get live. My favorite bands don't necessarily sound anything live like they do on their records."
Evan Moore, who produced and mixed the album, agrees.
"I think it's silly to think that a record should sound like a live performance. It's a different art altogether," he says. "Fleshing out their sound in the studio was more about giving each musician room to be creative than it was an attempt to 'polish' the band."
Polish might not have worked in any event, not with an indie-kid guitarist, a metalhead bassist, and a noise-merchant drummer all occupying the same stage. But Snyder not only accepts the tensions which that generates, he sees it as vital to the band's mission.
"The three of us don't really agree very often on what we think is good music," he says. "It's this three-way tug of war. And where everybody falls down, that's where the music happens."
PopMatters: Review of The Path of Least Resistance
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The States The Path of Least Resistance (Genious Collective) US release date: 14 August 2007 b...The States
The Path of Least Resistance
US release date: 14 August 2007
by Dan Raper
August 27, 2007
The States, a young New York rock band, have come a long way since last year’s self-released debut, Multiply Not Divide. The band recently won a category in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, building accolades the way the rest of us build resumes. It’s not a natural way to build a career in rock music, you might think, but this workmanlike approach to music-making has its rewards: solid songwriting (yes, we know, they won a prize for it), tight arrangements, and a sound that’s been solidified rather than diluted by the additional studio tools. If we’re not particularly blown away by the originality of the band’s dramatic, slightly nostalgic rock, we’re at least respectful; and at times, there’s a flash of real insight.
From the sound of it, in their ideal world the States would be Radiohead somewhere between The Bends and OK Computer. Their lyrics are associative, short sentences that presage doom: “The statues move as soon as you turn around”; “This narcotic we appreciate”; “The walls are coming down”. Whether the “yous” addressed are female love objects, Jack Abramoff, George Bush, or the societal accusatory Second Person is often not clear, giving the political songs in the set a vague, all-encompassing menace.
Musically, the band has settled deeper into some of the same influences evident on their debut, while utilizing the expanded palette of the studio to bring out newer elements. Vocalist Chris Snyder’s voice has some of the angst of emo, and though there are harmonic reminders of Muse, the group doesn’t rely as Bellamy does on his voice’s drama as a main mechanism for imbuing songs with life. Don’t be mistaken—the States are in the business of mainstream rock, with radio aspirations and the tools to get there: the breakdown-to-whispers, the soaring tenor choruses, the U2 guitar arrangements.
At their best, the States manage to capture disappointment and outrage with similar intensity. “Black Jack” is a model of songwriting efficiency, tightly reining in the aggression of straight-edge 4/4 guitars with a faster, chiming arpeggio passage that blossoms into a dance-rock-driven second half. Meanwhile, “All the Salt in the Sea” opens with a classic image of lost opportunity: the face of a girl behind subway doors: “In the wreckage of the day / It was the patterns of your face that saved my life”. The song bucks into double time halfway through, a neat effect.
“New Land” showcases the group’s willingness to enter the musico-political arena. Here, the subject is gentrification: “So we suburbanize the ghetto / Price the poorest out / Columbus would be proud”. Though the song has rather obvious instrumentation—electric piano, expanding into high guitars, then into roiling guitar for the chorus—musically it’s really tight, stringing the listener along (especially in the chorus) with married long vocal line and busier accompaniment. The risk here, as with bands like Get Him Eat Him that come from a background of obvious intellectualism/pop musical literacy, is of over-abstraction without linking the Important Thoughts with instrumental ideas that communicate the emotion behind them. The States avoid this trap not with any particularly inventive solution, just by applying these original thoughts to the established vocabulary of rock.
The States bend now and then—here towards emo, there towards New Wave and dance-rock—but they’re pretty much as straightforward a rock band as you’ll find going in Brooklyn. Primarily concerned with radio melodies and sing-along choruses, the group still manages to intimate deeper meaning at various points throughout The Path of Least Resistance. They’re not alone in lamenting the state of the US as we find it today—they’ve just found a pretty effective way of expressing it. As Snyder sneers on “The Architect”, “Liberty is such a bitch”. Indeed.
Rating: 6/10 stars
Boston Metro: "Finding The Path"
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Finding ‘The Path’ The States’ singer searches from Hollywood to Cambridge to Brooklyn Linda Laban...Finding ‘The Path’
The States’ singer searches from Hollywood to Cambridge to Brooklyn
August 21, 2007
PROFILE. Graeme Revell’s brooding score to the 1994 movie “The Crow” features a haunting choirboy soprano. It’s the voice of The States’ singer and guitarist Chris Snyder, at age 11.
“That was my first movie, but I was too young to see it. My mom wouldn’t let me,” says Snyder, who formed The States in 2002 while at Harvard.
The emo trio self-released its second CD, “The Path of Least Resistance,” last week. Before he left his native Los Angeles, though, Snyder notched singing parts in movies such as Jim Carrey’s “The Cable Guy” and the disturbing drama “Sleepers” — “John Williams did the music and I got to meet him,” Snyder says proudly.
Still, the politely spoken 25-year-old maintains he wasn’t serious about music until he came to the Northeast. Armed with a four-track, he started recording himself playing bass, drums, guitar and doing vocals, and songs began to take shape.
“For the first time I got really excited about music in a way I never felt before. Just writing music instead of playing Mendelssohn and Vivaldi. That was a revelation for me,” he recalls.
Along came bassist Previn Warren and original drummer Ian MacKenzie, who has since been replaced by Joe Stroll.
“They said, ‘Hey, let’s get together and jam.’ That was kinda scary because I couldn’t even play guitar and sing at the same time at that point. It’s more difficult than you think,” says Snyder.
After college, The States upped and moved to East Coast rock central: Brooklyn.
Snyder insists his day job in Manhattan as an administrative assistant is purely a means to an end and not, despite his Ivy League background, his first rung climbing the corporate ladder.
“You can put your energy into one thing at a time. Right now my energy is in music,” he asserts. “I’m the kind of guy who once I start something and I like it, I become really serious about it and I don’t quit.”
And what about his Hollywood connections?
“I’m very happy to leave Hollywood behind me,” he says with a laugh. “Though one of the things I want to do one day is write music for a movie. Scoring a movie is on my to-do list.”
Boston Tab: "Political 'States'"
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Political ‘States’ States drummer Joe Stroll, frontman Chris Snyder and bassist Previn Warren fig...Political ‘States’
States drummer Joe Stroll, frontman Chris Snyder and bassist Previn Warren
fight about politics, and then put it in their songs.
By Eddie Shoebang
GateHouse News Service
Wed Jun 20, 2007, 12:00 PM EDT
Leave it to a couple of Harvard graduates to create one of the most creative and political rock albums of the year.
The States, a rock trio now based in New York, will likely play songs off their new album, "The Path of Least Resistance," when they perform at TT the Bear's in Cambridge on Thursday, June 21. The album, their sophomore effort, drops on Aug. 14. With the new disc and the show, the band gets a chance to voice their political views, though it may not be the political issues you'd expect from three twenty-somethings.
Instead of the predictable Bush whacking songs or Iraq war laments, frontman Chris Snyder tackles issues like gentrification, nation building and the political scandals of lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
That's right. A song about the disgraced Washington, D.C., lobbyist whose various political crimes are still reaping guilty pleas and verdicts in the court.
"We wrote it in early 2006," says Snyder of the song "Black Jack." "We wanted to write a political song and that story was on our minds. But we couldn't figure out how to write a good song about it. It's a weird topic and hard to get your fist pumping to."
The band solved the problem by switching the focus of the song. Instead of being about the scandal (and the intricate crimes of a well-connected Washington D.C. lobbyist), the song turned into a sort of confession told through the point-of-view of Abramoff. Here's a sample lyric:
"My paper planes, their destination was a tragedy/But I'm no pilot, don't go blaming me/ If you were dealt the hand that I got/ You'd have cashed out before you were caught."
"Black Jack" is such a strong, creative effort that it caught the attention of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, where the track won a Grand Prize in the rock category (but the band didn't win the coveted Lennon award).
"Our approach is different," says Snyder. "We like writing about things that have no easy answer."
So instead of the war, Snyder and company wrote a song about gentrification (renovating low-income housing, thus attracting wealthier tenants) in "New Land."
"Most people don't know quite what to think about it," says Snyder. "And that's how we feel. We really like writing songs about complicated issues."
The band members know there are no easy answers, in politics or music — not only do the three of them have different political views, they each have varying musical tastes as well.
Bassist Previn Warren (who Snyder met at Harvard and calls "Prev") enjoys the Red Hot Chili Peppers and has a more of a funk attitude. Drummer Joe Stroll (who was the only one who answered a craigslist ad for a drummer) brings his "mild insanity" and love for metal and Mars Volta. Snyder exists somewhere in the middle, listing bands like Wilco and Explosions in the Sky.
"It took a long time to get over that initial clash of worlds," says Snyder. "When we're writing, sometimes one person is satisfied and the other two aren't. Occasionally, there are flashes of genius. Those are the things that make it to the record."
The result is a hybrid sound. There are moments of funk, rock and even metal, but no particular style dominates. Somehow, the three of them have found a way to take the best out of each world and made it work.
The lyrics are varied as well. They stem from political arguments that band has while touring the country in their van.
"We are friends before anything else," says Snyder. "Whatever happens, we'll get beer or milkshakes at the end of the night. We can be vehemently disagreeing, but it's not going to change anything."
Snyder, who studied social studies at Harvard, credits the arguments with adding "color" to the music and feels it brings a different perspective that currently isn't out there.
"It's really important to have fist-pumping bands," says Snyder. "Bands that help people protest. We're just trying to have people think about this stuff."
Press for Multiply Not Divide (2006)
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**Entertainment Weekly (EW.com)** Taking cues from neo-post-punk bands like Interpol, this Brooklyn...**Entertainment Weekly (EW.com)**
Taking cues from neo-post-punk bands like Interpol, this Brooklyn trio gets their rock on by way of high-pitched guitar static coupled with ambling bass lines. But what separates them from the other 10,000 Brooklyn bands doing the exact same thing is the manic drumming of stickman Joe Stroll, who takes this decent track and transports it to another level of manic mayhem.
- Entertainment Weekly / EW.com "Download This" (5/16/06)
CD Review: The States - Multiply Not Divide
Written by Tan The Man
Published May 26, 2006
The Brooklyn based trio The States has traveled the long way to gain notice on the music scene. Started in 2002 by Chris Snyder (vocals, guitar) and Previn Warren (bass), the two placed an ad on Craigslist and found Joe Stroll (drums) to complete the band.
The States won Buzzplay.com's national "Best Unsigned Band Competition" in 2004 and recorded a three-song demo in Hollywood. Three self-produced EPs and nonstop touring culminated with Multiply Not Divide, the band's full-length debut. It was recorded over four days and mastered by Dave Kutch, who has worked with Outkast and Sarah McLachlan. The result is a surprisingly tight, yet varied indie pop rock album with the right touch of emo and the right blend of 90s nostalgia.
The opening track "100 Years War" starts the album on an upbeat, yet laid back tone. "Ghost" is the most obvious example of the band sounding loose, not uptight and trying to record the big hit that exposes and saturates bands to the mainstream. The States avoid this by remaining low-key on all of the songs, leaving no splashy or melodramatic fluff (although I'll ignore "Diplomats"). The album's lone ballad, "Inquisition", is part emo, part classic rock, sounding less like Hoobastank and more like anyone but.
With only three instruments, the music is focused on the lyrics and melody and doesn't get bogged down too much with harmony. Not every instrument has to sound completely in-sync with the other instruments. "Right As Rain" and "× Not ÷" show how songs can succeed being somewhat unbalanced.
I described the album as a blend of 90s nostalgia because The States sound so much like every band that ever came out of the 90s, yet not quite. I'm reminded of Incubus with "Rocket Science" and The Lemonheads with "Bad Magnets." Those aren't very accurate comparisons, but there seems to be a recognition of 90s alternative in the way the album mixes fast beats and sudden slow instrumental bridges ("Puzzle"). Being not so polished gives the album a very indie and slight grunge sound, which combined doesn't sound too bad.
The States "Multiply Not Divide" (independent) – The States' members hail from California (bassist-keyboardist Previn Warren is originally from Huntington Beach) and New York, and the trio's founding while Warren and singer-guitarist Chris Snyder were attending Harvard has led to the release of a very promising 11-song debut. Now based in Brooklyn, the States (drummer Joe Stroll completes the lineup) explore the same soaring and ethereal world frequented by U2 and Coldplay, especially in the driving "100 Years War" and introspective "So Near." But like Keane and Rock Kills Kid, there is a youthful modern edge across "Multiply Not Divide" that gives the material a distinctiveness that is clearly the group's own.
You might like if you enjoy: Rock Kills Kid, early U2, Coldplay.
The States:Multiply Not Divide
The States is a trio of musicians from diverse back-grounds. Guitarist and vocalist Chris Snyder and bassist Previn Warren each began their careers in classical music at about the same time the rest of us were starting kindergarten. Conversely, drummer Joe Stroll is self taught from the school of Bonham, Grohl,and Chamberlain, and had little over a year of experience at the time he joined The States. Multiply Not Divide reflects this dichotomy, satisfying the gut's need for hard driven rock and roll while also appealing to the heart's need for emotional energy. Snyder's vocal talent can't be denied and may be the strongest draw of Multiply Not Divide, but the songwriting is pretty good too, with stand-out tracks such as "So Near"and "100 Years War.
**Time Off Bucks County (PA)**
States of Mind
In the world of rock 'n' roll clubs, where so many bands take the stage one after another on any given night, it helps to have something different going for you. The members of The States are pretty certain that they're able to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd.
"Every region has its own sound and you play with bands, and you can't tell anyone apart because everyone sounds like a New York band or a New Jersey band," says States bassist Previn Warren. "But I think for us, because we come from different parts of the country... we didn't start off all steeped in the same thing... so we were kind of putting together a sound from scratch."
That sound, driving but melodic, is a product of the different styles the members bring to the table. Mr. Warren was into hard-driving rock and metal, guitarist/singer Chris Snyder liked rock that was more melodic. Drummer Joe Stroll (who joined Mr. Warren and Mr. Snyder in 2004) brought an admiration of progressive rock to the table.
"I think the band is really a product of three guys with three really different ideas of what their favorite music is," Mr. Snyder says. "We have three slightly different ideas of what an ideal band is."
As a result The States' music reflects influences from U2 to Guns 'N Roses to Yes. "(In some ways) it didn't even make any sense at all," Mr. Warren says. "But we just threw ourselves together. There was talent to be had, but we didn't know how to put it together."
What's been put together might just turn out to be something special. While the band members are holding onto their day jobs, they're making some strides. Their self-produced CD, Multiply Not Divide, was released last year; the band's first single, "100 Years War" will be played on college radio stations around the country; and they're heading back to Mr. Snyder and Mr. Warren's home state of California for a tour. Before that, they'll appear at the Central Bucks Family YMCA in Doylestown, Pa., May 12.
In addition to their musical sound, The States are also defined by their lyrics, which are sometimes introspective and oftentimes political.
"(We) see ourselves as kind of political and kind of serious," Mr. Snyder says. "Not in a self-righteous, 'we're serious and everybody else is not' (way), but we're trying to do something with our music and our lyrics... We like to write songs about failures to communicate or love songs that seem to have a political back story to them."
He adds that the band's music is getting even more political. One of the newest songs, for example, is about Jack Abramoff. Singing about a controversial political lobbyist is one way for a band to stand out from the crowd. "We're really interested in talking about that kind of stuff," Mr. Snyder says. "The stuff that's going on in the world around us rather than the more universal boy meets girl, girl dumps boy... which is still a part of our lives, of course. We're as bad at love as everyone else."
Despite lofty goals as a band, Mr. Snyder and Mr. Warren don't sound the least bit arrogant or self-important. They're careful to point out that while things are moving forward for the band, a future of gold records is far from guaranteed.
Still, this is an exciting time for The States (the name comes from the different states of mind people can have), which started when Mr. Snyder and Mr. Warren met at Harvard University, just playing together and casually writing some songs. Things got serious when they moved to New York in 2004 and found Mr. Stroll through a Craigslist ad, although things didn't exactly start off on an honest foot.
"He told us he had been playing 13 years... It was a bit of a fib, it was more like one year," Mr. Snyder says. Mr. Stroll casually told his bandmates the truth about his experience one day, but by then it didn't matter since the trio was making progress, and besides, every rock band needs a crazy drummer story.
Another lesson The States has learned is that it takes more than talent to gain success in the music world. "I think we assumed (that) if we made a record that we were proud of, then people would just sort of naturally start listening to it," Mr. Snyder says. "But it turns out it really helps to get people on board your team. To actually get a publicist and actually do radio and spend a lot of time on MySpace talking to fans... (We've been) putting a lot of work into it, and we're starting to see some results, which is cool; we're getting a lot of great feedback from people on the record."
The States' songwriting process often comes out of jams, though Mr. Snyder says sometimes someone will come into a writing session with a lick or melody in mind.
"Usually we'll just be playing and hit on something and say, 'Hey, that was really good, let's try that again,'" he says. "The music is the thing that comes first, after that a vocal melody will get added."
Mr. Snyder's introduction to music came by playing violin, and Mr. Warren is from a family of musical lovers (he's named after André Previn). And while no one's likely to confuse Multiply Not Divide with a concerto, Mr. Snyder says classical music influences the band's writing.
"I don't know that you can hear it just by listening to the records... but at least when we were learning to play in a band, Prev and I would talk a lot about pretending we were a string quartet and trying to write with that in mind," Mr. Snyder says, "writing melodic lines and not worrying about power chords."
"We just waited a long time to build this kind of momentum," Mr. Warren says. "It feels like the possibilities are out of control. You're in a band and you're playing clubs, and you want to entertain rock star fantasies or whatever, but at the same time you're like, 'I don't know (if it's really going to happen for us),' but we're in a place right now where the door is wide open in our minds."
**The Knight News (Queens College)**
Garage Rock Revivalists Who Rock
We are now in the waning stages of the garage rock revival. All the "The" bands that burst onto the stage in the early part of the decade have either faded away due to lackluster album sales (see The Vines or The Hives), are stuck in musical limbo due to irregular albums (see The Strokes), or have become firmly entrenched in the musical landscape and moved beyond straight garage rock (see The White Stripes). So when a new "The" band comes out, it is hard to come to the album without a sense of "Here we go again."
Just one listen to Multiply Not Divide, the debut album by The States, and you will realize that this is definitely not a straight-up garage rock album. An intelligence to the lyrics is missing from their genre cohorts. When was the last time you heard the word "asymptotically" used in a song comparing lovers on the rocks to parallel lines as The States do on "Bad Magnets"?
Another thing that sets The States apart from the rest is the level of production. The States have no record deal, and so the whole album is self-mixed and recorded. You would never know this by the album though. The production is all very tight and on par with that of some established acts.
I can go on and on about how good this album is, but the stars here are the lyrics and the voice of vocalist Chris Snyder. While some songs here are politically motivated, The States don't beat you over the head with their political leanings. Songs like "Diplomats" are more political calls-to-arms. They just ask you to be more politically aware or get left behind. Chris Snyder shows a lot of range with his vocals. He is able to reach the high falsetto on "Bad Magnets" and yet slow it down and hypnotize on the haunting "So Near."
It is surprising to me that bands like this remain unsigned when so much garbage is on the radio and in record stores these days. It is a shame and quite telling of the state of popular music these days. Labels are too often catering to the lowest common denominator and ignoring amazing bands. Though, judging from this near perfect gem, The States shouldn't remain unsigned for very long. The album is available for purchase at the iTunes Music Store or at www.cdbaby.com/cd/states.
Since forming in 2002, things have moved quickly for The States. The band's first full-length album, Multiply Not Divide, a furious adrenalin pumping assault, captures the Brooklyn trio at their frantic peak. Packed full of songs yearning for an arena setting, The States offer a finessed garage rock that will put you in mind of the mid-eighties period where hungry and talented trios offered songs with sharp but simple guitar riffs, potent drumming and rumbling bass lines. Existing on a plane between a much hipper version of Duran Duran and a less sophisticated version of The Strokes, on Multiply Not Divide, The States stake out similar themes as Paul Haggis' Oscar winning film Crash. Practically every song deals with the failure to connect and vocalist and guitarist Chris Snyder's pleading voice and one-man guitar assault perfectly matches the sentiment.
The States have picked up the ball the Goo Goo Dolls insensitively dropped many years ago and on Multiply Not Divide they tap into the same tortured psyche that spawned the Goo Goo Dolls' garage rock masterpiece Hold Me Up. Meandering a bit aimlessly in the middle, Multiply Not Divide opens impressively with the feverish "100 Years War" and "Ghost" and closes strongly with the restrained fury of "Rocket Science" and "Parade." Snyder derives many of his guitar licks from The Edge's early U2 period, offering different iterations of the guitar lick from "I Will Follow" while neatly creating the illusion of a fuzzy wall of guitars out of singularly crisp notes. The formula works and The States rarely deviate from it. Unfortunately this causes each song on the album to come across as slight variations of the same musical theme. The one notable differentiation comes on "Parade" which starts on a softer note building to a climax that closes the album on a powerful note.
The States trace their origins to the ivy-covered halls of Harvard University where Snyder met bassist Previn Warren. In their youth, both trained extensively in classical music but ultimately made the move to rock and roll. The States came to be when the two joined up with Brooklyn drummer Joe Stroll, who bluffed his way into the band after answering an online ad. Having fun with their status of being an "indie band from Brooklyn," The States, winners of the 2004 Buzzplay.com Best Unsigned Band Contest, separate themselves from the pack with intelligent poetic songs that could form the soundtrack for the distress and despair accompanying the disintegration of failing relationships. "Diplomats" contains some nifty turns of the phrase, comparing the circuitous language used to avoid discussing a topic to that of "diplomats at a circus" and leave it to Ivy-leaguers to work "asymptotic" into a song as they do on "Bad Magnets." But then again, sophisticated wordplay and imagery is just what you would expect from a band with a couple guys from Harvard.
The States have built a following on the east coast through their live shows. Earlier this year the band took residency at The Delancey, playing weekly shows at one of New York City's lower east side hangouts. Clearly comfortable by the end of their run, Stroll could be seen before their final show strolling barefoot throughout the club before padding up to stage and ferociously attacking the drum kit. An energetic frontman, Snyder's energy spreads contagiously through the crowd. The band's sparse setup allowed Snyder to bounce around the stage and when that became too constrictive, he leapt up onto the speakers to offer guitar solos from a different vantage point. Hardly complacent, Warren lays down busy, but not overpowering, bass lines that neatly compliment Snyder's careening guitar.
The States haven't solely been using their live shows to promote the material on Multiply Not Divide. They've also been working out new material, which they will be releasing tomorrow, April 13, on their online EP The Path Of Least Resistance. They'll continue to play shows in Brooklyn and New York City throughout the spring, including the indie-friendly Emergenza Festival, competing in the second round of the competition this Saturday, April 15 at 11:00 at The Hook, 18 Commerce Street in Brooklyn, New York. The independent nature of Multiply Not Divide opened the door for an endearing Replacement-like error as the initial release inadvertently mislabeled three of the songs. Charming miscues aside, The States are clearly a talented eloquent outfit and their self-produced debut album outshines much that has recently been released by the major labels.
**Doc Martian's Lounge**
yes, post-emo has arrived.
The States - Multiply not Divide
I can't say this is my favorite album in the world. That's OK. It's heartfelt, skilled, and has a trio of guys that are out there trying to move mountains. Touchstones: The Edge, Nick Lowe, coldplay, the lovetones... all wrapped up in a package that's like All-American Rejects only not as derivative. skilled scatter drumming, stinging guitar, plaintive warm vocals, lyrics that evoke the younger days of rock n'roll... back when it was still striving to the ragged hacking death that it made for itself in the wild asssmackin' parody of sum-41... back before it was reborn as an eternal spirit of elvis and rem and iggy stooge and ugly kid joe all fighting among each other like brothers over the last eggo.
is this band going anywhere? i'd like to hope so... they might have to stick together through some doldrums... they might have to fart around in dens of iniquity like the lazy cowgirls for 20 years.... but i have hope in them and the reborn spirit of rock n' roll... they'll survive... and they might even prosper... my suggestion? a reality show where they all get plastic surgery so the girlies all get swoony and goofy over them.... before they're too old so they don't suffer that goo-goo dolls dinosaur impediment.
would i buy this album? cuz that's what it comes down to. no. i wouldn't... but i'd recommend it wholeheartedly to someone who likes the postpostpostmodernproggopunkathing that's been building up the last 4-5 years. i personally find it a great soundtrack to playin' tony hawk... sharp grinding guitar... lyrics that mean more than rem but less than the smiths... almost as groovy as James Blunt... without the 70s hooks. go skateboarding to them... you know you want to. blink 182 sucks. these guys might suck someday... but i think they'll pull themselves out of whatever hole they fall into. remember 2000 light years from home? remember the stones playing weenie psyche-beatleic music? these guys will fall into a trap too. most of us do. even my heroes. buy this fer yer g/f.
**PopMatters Short Takes**
Big old fat disclosure: went to college with these guys; but the good news w/r/t objectivity is, I never saw them or heard any material till now. Expecting MOR rock (the press material describes the band's sound as "U2 mixed with Led Zeppelin"), though, you'll be pleasantly surprised: The States combine exceedingly familiar components into a refreshing, melodic brand of geek-rock. Sure, the 5-3-5-3 oscillation on "Diplomats" is ripped straight from the Strokes ("12:51"), but made up for by the gorgeous "don't walk away" chorus. Other songs, like "Inquisition" and "Multiply Not Divide" update classic U2 sound all lugubrious-Franz-Ferdipants-dance-pop-rock. But as the album's title suggests, mathematics is the key: a girl doesn't walk over, she "asymptotically approaches". The sound quality's entirely demo-level, unfortunately; these songs could use a slick makeover -- then, it's no far stretch to imagine them blasting over MTV2 or mainstream radio. — Dan Raper
**Neighborhoodies Music Review**
One listen to The States' debut album, Multiply Not Divide, and you'll recognize how polished this young act already sounds. On the record's title track, vocalist Chris Snyder shows his chops--the boy can sing--making the fact that the band is unsigned the most surprising thing about this release. "So Near" turns the tempo down a notch and is an enchanting piece of music...There is something here for everyone; fans of U2, Coldplay, Led Zeppelin, The Strokes, The Beatles, and Cream will all find something to reel them in.
Our sets range in length from 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the show. We feature songs from both of our full-length records, as well as a few choice covers (Talking Heads, Feist, Radiohead, David Bowie, Pixies).
There are no upcoming dates at this time.