State Shirt
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State Shirt

Band Alternative Rock


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"This Is Old CD review"

by Paul POP!, First Coast News

What would have the Postal Service sounded like if they were more folk than synth pop? Ask State Shirt because they might now a thing or two about that question. Essentially one guy, Ethan Tufts, State Shirt is all about DIY hand made folktronica that sounds as if Elbow got in a car crash with Folk Implosion and the aforementioned Postal Service.

State Shirt's album, This is Old is bedroom pop that sounds as intimate as that implies. It is a quiet affair that whispers its songs into your ears while pieced together beats roll along at a meandering pace that seems to be in no hurry. Utilizing whatever instruments he had at his disposal State Shirt has made This is Old a riveting and touching collection of songs that's as stirring as it is swirling. The unobtrusive nature of all this permeates the haunting nature of this album and it makes it seem as if the the whole thing were created by loop loving ghosts.

From the despair and skittishness of the title track to the barely there close of, "Conway Station Road," it seems as though This is Old gets more and more melancholic as the album progresses. Starting out with a pumping bassline and closing out with an airy piano it's as if State Shirt opens the book that is This is Old excitedly, flips through the pages and then slowly closes the cover with disappointment. The result is an album that sounds desperate, frustrated, and heavy hearted and you can hear the emotion coming out Tufts more and more as the songs move on.

This is Old is a fascinating listen and an interesting peek into State Shirt's soul. This is Old is a dark place that's grey, grim, and grainy, and routine but it does have a glimmer of hope. Whether or not State Shirt gets out of that place is unknown, but it's a place you might just want to stop and visit a while if not for any other reason to make yourself feel better. Melancholy and being stuck in a never ending routine has never sounded so good.
- First Coast News

"This Is Old CD review"

It’s late. You’ve got a big cup of coffee and you’re settling in for some coding/conversation/driving. What would make the picture even better: “This is Old”, the new album by State Shirt.

Ethan Tufts, the man who is State Shirt, achieves shimmering Beach Boys-worthy harmonies on “Time To Go” and “Fell Out of the Sky”. The title song seems to channel Franz Ferdinand, while “Computer” evokes the Scissor Sisters. State Shirt has found a way to blend these familiar-feeling elements with his own new take on instrumentation and lyrics to create an album that’s fresh-sounding but also comfy as your favorite sweatshirt. - Comfort Comes

"State Shirt Don't Die CD Review"

Destined to be an obscure gem of a recording, State Shirt’s full-length debut is an eclectic concoction of soaring alternapop and wallowing shoegazing, all derived from an ambiguous collection of samples and an obvious love of Beck and Radiohead. At times beautifully romantic, and at others undoubtedly disturbing, Don’t Die is an album worthy of cult status, covering a broad spectrum of emotions and styles in a completely DIY framework.

A one-man band, State Shirt draws comparisons to both Mellowdrone and VAST, but not just for their lone membership. Like Mellowdrone, State Shirt relies heavily upon self-deprecation and like VAST State Shirt also likes to dabble in the odd electronic moment and left-of-centre sample. And like them both State Shirt also possesses a knack of crafting life-size choruses in modest settings (see ‘Life Isn’t Everything’).

Opening with the lead single ‘Strawman’ State Shirt uses a repetitive canine sample, twisted and treated to actually form the basis of the track. And if that’s not bizarre enough, a deliberately skipping electro-beat sends the listener scurrying for the eject button to check for scratches. But where many dabble in peculiar samples only to disappear up their own derriere, State Shirt keeps the craft of songwriting paramount, ensuring odd experiments do not become alienating and/or self-serving exhibitions in noise.

It is strange, however, that State Shirt would choose the most challenging tune to not only open the album, but also to push to radio. For as catchy as ‘Strawman’s melodies are, the whole mid-section would throw a radio announcer into a spin unless prior warning was served.

‘Not A Kid Anymore’ is the finest example of a Beck and VAST meeting, with dreamy electronic sequences clashing with low self-esteem in a display of comfortable disparity. Meanwhile ‘Postcard’ is built upon a beatbox sample with the regular vocals sounding as close to Thom Yorke as one could possibly get. In contrast State Shirt mimics the voice of Sting in ‘Indefinite Acrobat (Space Cadet)’.

The self-produced album released on State Shirt’s home label then takes a dramatic turn as it turns the light out on ‘Highway’ and then goes all tech-metal on ‘Edisons’ Medicine’ – a tune bookended by synthetic sequences and echoed vocals VAST fans would kill for. This metal edge could perhaps be attributed to State Shirt’s long history playing in punk and death metal bands across the USA, as most of us tend to do at one point in our lives.

But hey, don’t take some lame-arse reviewers word for it. State Shirt is currently offering a free CD from their website featuring ‘Strawman’ and a non-album track (‘Run Free’) - a tune that shows the mellower side of the unit. Perfect for the try-before-you-buyers out there.

by Warren Wheeler - The Sound Monitor

"State Shirt Don't Die CD Review"

Let’s get the Radiohead issue out of the way because it’s probably the first thing every State Shirt review mentions: I imagine Ethan Tufts, AKA State Shirt, sitting down at his computer, rubbing his scraggly beard, thinking "Oh no, not another ‘It’s sorta like Radiohead’ review…" 

Yes, I like to imagine musicians reading my reviews.

One-man rockestra Tufts is responsible for the music, artwork, recording and most of the mixing on Don’t Die, and with a professional mastering job it has the wherewithal of an expensive major label debut. There is a strong post-OK Computer ballad/experiment vibe, with mid-tempo songs drenched in spacey textures. Those long, drifting, held notes Thom Yorke favors are in full effect here.

But to dismiss Tufts as bedroom Radiohead would be a mistake. Album opener "Straw Man" begins with a looped, perfectly eerie howl and never looks back, while "It is a Shame My Binoculars Don’t Work at Night" break-wanks its way through scratch-beats that could have come from some group Radiohead irascibly picked to open for them and agitate their fans.

"Life Isn’t Everything" and "Not a Kid Anymore" are more Travis- or Muse-styled anthems, and the latter does have an unmistakable, unwakeable Yorke-junior ballad feel to it. But while "Postcard" coils another laconic vocal performance around a turgid rhythm section, the rapidly spliced chant that lies over it could have hardly come from Oxford’s finest. "Highway" and "Indefinite Acrobat (Space Cadet)" further distinguish themselves by weaving little grumbles, bleeps and skips into the music.

It’s not perfect – the album droops a bit under the weight of the drifting space ballads and mid-tempo autumn rockers that compose about three-quarters of the material. But State Shirt’s best songs, like "Straw Man," suggest depth and potential one wouldn’t find in the scads of Thom-abes out there, and Tufts’ lush, homemade production seals the sound in. Commendable. 

Reviewed by Erick Bieritz - Lost At Sea

"State Shirt Don't Die CD Review"

State Shirt is just one guy, an East coast native transplanted to California. His name was tough enough to track down that I'm assuming he's not trying to put it out there, so who am I to give away his secrets? Call him State. Or Mr. Shirt. Or one talented guy. There is no way this was recorded in a bedroom studio by one guy with only occasional performance by a handful of friends. Look around a little and you'll read some comparisons to Beck, which are merited if you're talking about very early Beck and referring to Mr. Hansen's ability to take a pretty ordinary song and quirk it up a notch. What we end up with on this record is a collection of what would be pretty normal singer-songwriter type affairs if it weren't for incredibly imaginative production choices, including nods to hip-hop, surprising vocal interplay, ingeniously employed electronics, and always-engaging instrumentation. This can only be understood by listening, if then, so I suggest doing a little web surfing to hear what this Mr. Shirt guy has to offer.

Key track: "Postcards"

Reviewed by: Kent Walter - 1340Mag

"State Shirt Don't Die CD Review"

Solo artist, State Shirt (aka Ethan Tufts) claims to have been playing, writing and recording since he was five, but this LP, recorded in bedrooms studios in Burbank and Winnetka, California, is his first full length release after a plethora of self-released 4 track tapes. Not tied to down to one pattern, State Shirt can offer an intense emotional soaking, from the lavish and dramatic ‘Life Isn’t Everything’ to the down tempo Radiohead-echoes of ‘Not A Kid Anymore’. Not that State Shirt is enclosed in an earnest alt.rock ghetto, as he also provides less guitar-reliant tunes such as ‘Postcard’ made personal by vocal scratching and beatboxing as well as the atmospherically claustrophobic DJ Shadow-esque ‘Straw Man’ and the gargantuan rush of ‘Indefinite Acrobat (Space Cadet)’. ‘Don’t Die’ is a very personal record but not so much that it’s impenetrable and is definitely worth seeking out for its internal diversity and melancholic elegance. - Vanity Project

"State Shirt Don't Die CD Review"

'Don't Die' is the superb debut from the mysteriously-named State Shirt, a one-man bedroom studio operation who releases records on his own LFA record label. Not that you'd know it as the material is a confidently produced batch of angsty rock songs with intelligent use of electronica. State Shirt has a pleasing emotionally bruised voice which never descends into a whine whilst his eclectic touches add to the freshness. Take ''It Is A Shame My Binoculars Don't Work At Night' for example, which reveals a talent for vocal scratching. There are also hip hop samples ('Postcard') and occasional deployment of heavy metal guitars but they entertain rather than confuse the listener. Nevertheless his best work is more direct; the yearning 'Life Isn't Everything', 'Not A Kid Anymore' is a blissful, reflective number and 'Edison's Machine' combines the subtle and the loud to memorable effect. Think 'The Bends'-era Radiohead with the maverick touches of Beck thrown in for good measure.

4 out of 5 stars - Leonard's Lair

"State Shirt Don't Die EDITORS PICK"


Included in the package with this release was a ’91 “Rock Card” trading card featuring Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame. Now most artists don’t realize that its that kind of oddity that people will remember when they put your album in the player (after the other hundred or so that they listened to that day). State Shirt is actually the work of one multi-instrumentalist and that type of cohesive power you draw from solo work is present here but doesn’t bore with dumb doodlings that only the performer enjoys that typically is at least partially present in solo material. Unbelievably this entire work was recorded in a bedroom studio, which I never would have guessed due to the complexity and immense layering of all the tracks. The music is sort of a downtempo electronic blend of Radiohead’s odder pieces and Beck’s bizarreness and even features the voice of Edison the dog (wasn’t that the dog in Back to the Future or was that Einstein?). Put out on his own independent label LFA Records (that’s Los Fucking Angeles), this impressive release no doubt will dominate CMJ in time. If not, they’re just a bunch of corporate whores who couldn’t tell good music from a hole in the ground. -


2008 This Is Old
2004 Don't Die
2003 Straw Man (SINGLE)
2002 New Planet (EP)



State Shirt makes fiery, intense indie rock anthems for the the lost, the wondering, the wandering, the hopeful. Venturing wildly into the farthest corners of his heavy-hearted mental landscape, State Shirt's music displays gripping stories of nostalgia, despair and hope. From living in the droning and faceless San Fernando Valley, to the nostalgia of snowy familiar backroads of Western Massachusetts, to the mind-numbing, draining full-time job that he can't seem to escape. State Shirt has been held captive in a never-ending cycle: work, drink, sleep, repeat. How did things end up so wrong?

Through it all, a glimmer of hope shines. In his modest bedroom studio, he's gradually built up a sanctuary devoted to writing and recording. Slowly pushing aside a life working for someone else's dreams and creating dreams of his own. Sparkles of surreal, melancholic melodies bubble up. Voltage finally runs through a collection of dusty pedals, guitars and electronics, all ready to be endlessly tweaked. Neglected instruments, hand-built loops, and gripping vocals all come together in a swell of burning, powerful indietronic artistry.