This is the first of two posts of bands with the word “State” in their names. Other than that, shop they have very little in common. First off, is Washington D.C’s Statehood, the newest project from former-Dismemberment Plan rhythm section Joe Easley and Eric Axelson, Vehicle Birth’s Leigh Thompson and vocalist Clark Sabine. I don’t want to wax too poetic on the fact that DC holds a particularly special place in my personal rock geography. Truth is, the sheer quantity of timeless music from DC doesn’t need to be spelled out but much of it remains the soundtrack to my formative music-listening education. Recently however, with the demise of the aforementioned Dismemberment Plan, Q and Not U, Black Eyes, El Guapo and later the unappreciated Supersystem, DC has sort of fallen off of my radar.
Enter Statehood. Lies and Rhetoric delivers twelve disparate tracks of raw, unapologetic, and infectiously energetic rock. After a couple of listens, it’s easy to get all hyperbolic and just start spitting praise, listing comparable bands and analogous sounds, etc, but the truth is that this is music best suited for listening. Keep the analysis for your therapy session. The instrumental three-quarters of the band are in perfect power-trio lockstep, with guitarist Thompson dropping hyperfunk riffage that would make D. Boon smile in his grave, and the Easley/Axelson combo holding things so down that they’re fucking floating away like a wayward balloon high up in the sky. Classic dub-influenced punk shit here. And Clark Sabine’s throaty, emotive vocals — reminiscent of Samiam’s Jason Beebout or Seaweed’s Aaron Stauffer — tie it all together. Dude sings like DC. There’s a worldly yet disenfranchised, “don’t forget about us” to his voice.
At the end of the crazy, nostalgic head rush, we have the epitome of what DC music sounds like to all of us luckier to live somewhere where our vote actually counts. Statehood now!
RIYL: Too many awesome bands that remind you of that first awesome Fugazi show your older skateboarder friends dragged you to.