The mixture of indie rock songwriting, socially conscious lyrics, and roots reggae rhythms has long been a staple in the jam band world, and State Radio delivers on all counts. A Boston-based trio led by singer and primary songwriter Chad Urmston (a former member of Vermont jamsters Dispatch), State Radio largely managed to avoid the usual post-Phish clichés, injecting a punk-influenced sound and politically charged viewpoint while staying true to the tenets of the band's chosen style.
Urmston, who disbanded Dispatch at the height of its popularity in 2002, formed State Radio later the same year. Focusing exclusively on guitar and vocals instead of the instrument switching he was previously known for, he brought in second guitarist Pete Halby, bassist Chuck Fay, and drummer Mike Greenfield to round out the lineup. After the exploratory debut EP Flag of the Shiners was released by Fenway Recordings in late 2002, State Radio went on a temporary hiatus throughout 2003 as Urmston recovered from throat surgery. Returning to active duty in 2004 as a slimmed-down trio with new drummer Brian Sayers, State Radio followed a second EP, Simmer Kane, with the release of 2006's Us Against the Crown. Another personnel change occurred before State Radio toured in support of the album, with drummer Mike Najarian replacing Sayers.
The sophomore effort Year of the Crow followed in fall 2007, bringing with it an emphasis on louder guitars and sociopolitical themes. State Radio reinforced such themes by launching service projects in each city the band visited, and Urmston briefly reconvened Dispatch for a three-night charity performance at Madison Square Garden, with funds going toward Zimbabwe relief. State Radio maintained such political awareness on 2009's Let It Go. ~ Stewart Mason