Chad Stokes has kept pretty busy this year. The singer/primary songwriter for State Radio also fronts the jammy (and probably more recognized) trio Dispatch, who also released a new record earlier this year, Circles Around the Sun. It felt like time, then, for the alternative, politically conscious group—comprised of Stokes on guitar, Chuck Fay on bass and Mike “Mad Dog” Najarian on drums—to reunite, as well.
On its fourth full-length album, State Radio maintains its louder, edgier, bass-heavier sound. “Freckled Mary,” much like “Knights of Bostonia” before it on 2009’s Let It Go, oozes with an Irish-tinged Boston musical pride. Likewise, “Big Man” has big riffs and closer “Black Welsh Mountain” feels borderline grungy.
Additionally, many of the songs on Rabbit Inn Rebellion continue in the band’s proud tradition of supporting human rights and social justice initiatives. The poignant “Roadway Broken,” a track written about a mother searching to feed her children after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, was offered as a benefit track last year to support Partners in Health. And prior to that, the frighteningly vivid “State of Georgia” served as the soundtrack to Amnesty International’s campaign to grant clemency to Troy Davis, a man on death row for 22 years who died by lethal injection on Sept. 21, 2011.
Unfortunately, Rabbit Inn Rebellion lacks the consistency that made State Radio’s first two LPs, Us Against the Crown and Year of the Crow, so superb. With more than a quarter of the record having been previously released as singles, benefit tracks, or on Stokes’ 2011 solo record, much of the new album already feels old. And yet, State Radio still proves that writing a current, relevant rock record is a feat not yet lost in today’s society of instant gratification.