Massachusetts folk-rock group State Radio uses its antennae to both transmit and receive. Its outgoing signals are slick, ostensibly heartfelt, and politically correct songs, and it's clear that this trio has tuned in on waves of inspiration from the Dave Matthews Band and Sting. State Radio sounds ready to slide snuggly into opening slots for Matthews, Trey Anastasio, or any number of artists of the not-a-band-but-a-lifestyle ilk. Its deadhead sensibilities have also included permitting fans to record its shows. Recently, after a handful of EPs, a full-length studio album, a live disc, and a collection of outtakes, State Radio's Chad Urmston (ex-Dispatch) found his groove. The latest EP, Simmer Kane, finds the singer in a more relaxed, Bob Marley mode, using acoustic guitar as his primary accompaniment. The addition of Erin Lashnits' female harmonies makes Urmstom's singing much more spontaneous than on any of the previous releases. The band's constant tinkering with styles is now producing music worthy of the long tradition of American protest song. Though some may consider it a buzzkill, in some ways, this group is a vehicle for Urmston to decry the prolonged suffering of Zimbabwean children, the declining rights of the disabled right here in the United States, and other noble causes. As long as its satellite dishes continue to draw Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan out of the ether, State Radio will modulate on the clearer frequencies.
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