Review Summary: One of the finest punk albums of 2010.
With Springsteen at his throne and Westerberg at his side, Americana was never in any danger of falling from grace in music or, more specifically, in the punk rock community. For a while, though, it did seem like an old man’s game. Not until recent young bands like The Gaslight Anthem and less young bands like The Hold Steady clawed their way into the spotlight with thunderous blue-collar rock songs did it really make a ripple among the young upstarts. It’s not that the looming influence of Springsteen ever went away (certainly not with listeners), it just needed some help finding its footing amongst a new generation of musicians. Now it’s up to bands like The State Lottery to continue its newfound prosperity.
Perhaps the biggest compliment you can give this group is that with When The Night Comes
, their sophomore release, they’ve created an album so ingrained with the rootsy philosophy of the genre that it’s a virtual guarantee with anyone with a proclivity to the sound. Their rollicking rock n roll sensibilities rival any of the recent punk bands you could mention; in fact, they’re so assured of their abilities the closer “Spring, 2008, Detroit” is a hard-hitting, 8-minute march towards its shouted climax, the likes of which we’ve only seen recently from Titus Andronicus on their monolithic The Monitor.
The most telling element of their ambition is the saxophonist in their line up – she’s no one-man E Street Band but the sax flourishes are such a defining element to their sound, especially on songs like “East Jordan” where it leads, that it sets them on an oddly unique standing for a seemingly standard element to their music. That there is virtually no self-promotion, no label, no merch (they clearly state they're against even the idea of branding themselves), and with their album available for free, this is a band with nothing but genuine intentions. It plays even further into the overarching values of the genre; they’re offering nothing but hard work, talent and honesty and it breathes character into moments like when they sing, “It’s a big world / but you got a little time / to find where you’re supposed to be / and get on with your life”.
This is rock n roll at its most kind-hearted; music that panders to no goal other than enjoyment. The rough, youthful vocals are styled in the same way as any of the other tar-throated front men, the guitar riffs move in forward motion, the piano is slammed like a bar band – the bases are covered when it comes to rowdy punk rock and opener “Coming Alive” puts it all into place from the get-go. The lyrics are shouted with passion and good-will (“I’m not sure what it meant / or whose idea it was / but I remember because I liked it / so I went with it”) and they revolve around stories tightly woven around experiences that dip into nostalgia and warm memories. The positive energy instilled in When The Night Comes
is tremendous and it gives it a vitality that’s rare in a lot of young punk bands.
Springsteen’s Americana is widely adored for injecting the American dream into each word, wail and piano key that defined his music but The State Lottery further projects the ideal that it holds weight far beyond the American shorelines. Though their music is as rooted in specific Michigan locale as The Boss was with New Jersey or The Hold Steady are with Minneapolis, the themes of youth, summer, and rebellion weave their way through the hearts of anyone who got out of their teenage years with scars, dreams and a couple memories. It isn’t so much about being from Detroit as it is about being a friend, or a drinking partner, or a lover. It’s overwhelmingly universal. With any justice, When The Night Comes
is an album that should see The State Lottery take their place as acolytes of the new Americana generation and even if it doesn’t, something tells me they’re the type of band who are more than satisfied with soundtracking the debauchery of anyone lucky enough to discover them.