The Brooklyn based trio The States has traveled the long way to gain notice on the music scene. Started in 2002 by Chris Snyder (vocals, guitar) and Previn Warren (bass), the two placed an ad on Craigslist and found Joe Stroll (drums) to complete the band.
The States won Buzzplay.com’s national “Best Unsigned Band Competition” in 2004 and recorded a three-song demo in Hollywood. Three self-produced EPs and nonstop touring culminated with Multiply Not Divide, the band’s full-length debut. It was recorded over four days and mastered by Dave Kutch, who has worked with Outkast and Sarah McLachlan. The result is a surprisingly tight, yet varied indie pop rock album with the right touch of emo and the right blend of 90s nostalgia.
The opening track “100 Years War” starts the album on an upbeat, yet laid back tone. “Ghost” is the most obvious example of the band sounding loose, not uptight and trying to record the big hit that exposes and saturates bands to the mainstream. The States avoid this by remaining low-key on all of the songs, leaving no splashy or melodramatic fluff (although I’ll ignore “Diplomats”). The album’s lone ballad, “Inquisition”, is part emo, part classic rock, sounding less like Hoobastank and more like anyone but.
With only three instruments, the music is focused on the lyrics and melody and doesn’t get bogged down too much with harmony. Not every instrument has to sound completely in-sync with the other instruments. “Right As Rain” and “× Not ÷” show how songs can succeed being somewhat unbalanced.
I described the album as a blend of 90s nostalgia because The States sound so much like every band that ever came out of the 90s, yet not quite. I’m reminded of Incubus with “Rocket Science” and The Lemonheads with “Bad Magnets.” Those aren’t very accurate comparisons, but there seems to be a recognition of 90s alternative in the way the album mixes fast beats and sudden slow instrumental bridges (“Puzzle”). Being not so polished gives the album a very indie and slight grunge sound, which combined doesn’t sound too bad.