States of Nature – Brighter Than Before

Let me tell you something about States of Nature. They are a really good band. This is some professional shit, and it’s precisely stuff like this that makes volunteering here at the Upstarter Foundation worthwhile. 

“Brighter Than Before” is the upcoming debut full length from the band, coming out on Sell The Heart Records (who are really building an impressive roster) later this month. If you send them money, they will mail one to your house. This information will be important later, because after you read this review and listen to it, you’re going to want a copy. 

Hailing from Oakland, California, their Bandcamp page describes them as “A danceable hybrid of Post-Hardcore and Rock N’Roll.,” which is accurate. It’s danceable, but not in an annoying kitchy way, and the riffs have some serious Reis/Froberg muscle to them. States of Nature are danceable in a DC sort of way, not in a band with exclamation marks in their name sort of way. I think it’s actually a very difficult thing to properly execute in punk and punk adjacent music. Being danceable without the appropriate amount of anger, or the absence of actually being able to write great songs, does not equate to enjoyable music. Good news is that State of Nature write great songs. Great songs you can dance to. You’ll want to mosh creatively to these ten tracks, or in my case, bob your head up and down on the Peloton while saying, “Oh hell yeah!” (the highest possible compliment, really). 

The opening track “Brighter Than Before” comes out blazing like something off the first Hot Snakes record, and immediately got my attention. Huge chorus, and also kind of has the vibe and energy of something off “In/Casino/Out” by ATDI. This power and bounce continue with track 2, “Wicked World”, this time perhaps leaning a bit into (International) Noise Conspiracy as well. This is followed by “Papered News” and “Tides”, where we get a chance to catch our breath for second, but still full of hooks. There’s a video for the former, so check it out below. “Undone” is the most Fugazi sounding jam on here, which always seems like a lazy comparison for anything considered post-punk, but States of Nature are worthy company for such a tag. “New Foundations”, “God With A Gun”, and “American Drone” follow, comprising my favorite 3 song run on the album. These songs have everything. The dark rage of Mission of Burma, the attitude and delivery of Ian Svenonius, a bit of spacey Mind Spiders weirdness, and the aforementioned massive riffs of Hot Snakes. The record tapers off with the rather upbeat “The Return” and the perfect slow closer “Oh The Light”, which is also one of my personal favorites. 

So there it is, a bunch of “sounds-like” comparisons that hopefully convince you to invest in joy and purchase this record. I’m a music fan, not a journalist. At least I didn’t say “angular”. This is my favorite new album I’ve heard so far this year,  and it will definitely see repeated listens from me for the foreseeable future. Rumor has it they will be swinging up the West Coast this Spring, and I’m going to make a serious middle-aged effort to go see them. 

–Zack Akenson

Harrington Saints – Pride & Tradition


© 2012 Pirates Press Records / Contra Records

With a name like “Harrington Saints”, I’m immediately struck with the idea that this is a serious business, no holds barred, blue collar, in your face, working man’s street punk band. Maybe it’s familiarity with the genre, but there was no mistake in my assumption. These particular saints hail out of a little east bay town know as Oakland. You may have heard of it.

The band has been around since 2005 and Pride and Tradition is their second full-length. This one is produced by Lars Frederiksen. You may have heard of him. With it you get 11 tracks planted firmly in the vein of Oi and Street Punk; Blue collar rock and roll for the poor souls that have had their back broken by the man and get nothing in return.

The music is short, crisp, poignant, and timely yet timeless. (until such a time as people aren’t getting the short end of the stick I guess … so yeah, timeless.) That said, Street Punk isn’t the be all, end all for me. There is a strong tendency to get a bit repetitive. The Harrington Saints work to remedy this by not sticking strictly by the books. Tempos shift and not every track is a full on shout along. The themes run constant though; A desire for more, the tenuous grasp on the American Dream, white collar bandits, the ones who don’t put the effort in for their fair share.

Bottom line: If you like punk rock and you feel like you’ve constantly got the boot against your neck, rock the hell out and shout along with the Harrington Saints when they come crushing through your town.

–Jerry Actually