I stumbled up State to State in my online travels while Googling for Steve Perry. Yes, that Steve Perry. Apparently, according to at least one website and one YouTube video I’ve found, that Steve Perry did some backing vocals on this record. I liked the samples I’d heard on SoundCloud, so when the EP was released on iTunes I gave it a shot.
If ever there were an audio resumé for a band that demonstrates their range as well of their competence, this is it. “My Little Phony” makes me wonder if the band has also been hanging out with Josh Homme, as it’s build from guitar tracks that seem to nod to Kyuss and vocal harmonies similar to some of Queens of the Stone Age. A little more than halfway through the song there’s a stylistic shift to… I can’t put my finger on the word… a brighter (?) sound, with hints of the opening guitar. “Arms”, with it’s clean guitar pseudo-arpeggio and more mainstream sounding vocals does a great job of delivering its message of nonviolence. The bass on this one has a clever slide in the riff that gives a “going for a ride” feeling.
“Let Go” reminds me of some not-too-distant past stuff from the UK. Travis, anyone? Maybe Radiohead? It builds nicely in the second half of the song starting with an authoritative bass line and following with similar guitars and layered vocals, evocative of Muse. I’ve read a couple of reviews and/or comments online from people who’ve said they can’t make out Steve Perry’s voice. If you have trouble picking him out, put on some decent headphones and really pay attention at about 1:22-ish into “Let Go” and again at 2:16-ish. As for the other Steve Perry vocal, on “Arms”, I have to agree with the “don’t hear it” folks, except in a video of the session titled “That time Steve Perry showed up to add some harmonies on our new EP” on the band’s YouTube channel.
“Kings” continues the Muse-like sound but with a chorus you won’t see coming. Once again the feeling of the song changes about midway through, something I’m beginning to think might be a signature for this band. “Pins and Needles” wraps it up by starting once again with the clean guitar and Brit-sounding vocal… then, at just past the halfway mark, there it is again! By this point in the EP, you’re happily expecting the shift. Heavier guitars, vocals from the gut, and a spirited bass line carry you out to an abrupt stop just as you’re expecting a “repeat and fade”.
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