State Radio is pretty upfront about their politics on Year of the Crow. Opener “Guantanamo” goes right after the Bush administration and their support for torture and collusion. And while their politics, and the aim of their music, may be admirable—particularly to the band’s target audience—the execution leaves much to be desired. There’s nothing wrong with a protest song, or with being direct, but most of these songs are all aimless vitriol. They come at their topics head-on, in songs like “CIA” and “Sudan”, but their head-on approach doesn’t reveal anything new about these topics. Year of the Crow comes across, in the end, as a laundry list of complains that gets too big and too long to be focused in any way. Occasionally, the band drops its political posturing in favor of a solid melody and driving guitars, and then their sound works. “Gang of Thieves”, while no less pedantic than anything else here, is an energetic rockabilly swing buried in an album full of amorphous, slightly punk-tinged rock. It’s always good to see bands approaching these big issues, but naming the issues aloud and actually addressing them are two different things.
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