The State | The State (self-released)

Their songs are catchy, well arranged and produced; the musicianship and vocal ability, too, are strong.

 

At our last staff meeting, we discussed the difference between "pop-rock" and "rock-pop." Which has more rock influence? Which is more pop? It would seem logical that whichever genre gets mentioned first should hold the greater sway. But then I remembered my grade school box of Crayolas, which contained both blue-green and green-blue—and the latter-named color was prominent. Suddenly, my Kindergarten confusion came flooding back.

But I digress. Columbia, Mo.'s the State is a tight pop-rock foursome—place the emphasis where you will. Their songs are catchy, well arranged and produced; the musicianship and vocal ability, too, are strong. A number of the tracks on their self-titled debut CD are radio-friendly, including "The Hardest Part Is Letting Go," "Back to You," and "Entropy." "Floored" stands out as the most instrumentally intricate offering here, an addictive and repetitive line providing a memorable backdrop.

Guitarist/vocalist Joe Brown wrote the majority of the songs and handled the production and mixing; aside from Dylan Phelps, who has two music cowriting credits on the album, the lineup has changed since the album's 2005 release (and Phelps, too, has switched from bass to lead guitar). Not to deny the power of band cohesion, but with a frontman as literate and talented as Brown, the State has plenty of promise in their future.

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