"Don't Die" CD
Fucking Angeles Records
Genres: rock, epic rock
Jan 3 - 9 2005
Don't Die is the type of album you can only enjoy if you let
yourself get into it. It has a sort of mainstream rock feel
(think Radiohead crossed with whatever emo alt rock bands are
popular now), but many of the songs are surprisingly melodic
("Straw Man," "Highway") and entertainingly
original. State Shirt loves to mess around with strange
sound effects, including beatboxing, scratching, and any number of
silly vocal effects - surprisingly, these unique inclusions really
work here, making for a remarkably cohesive and personal album.
"Highway" is a song that particularly caught my attention
- I remember it from the band's earlier New Planet EP, where it
was a definite standout. It has a brooding melody and a remarkably
strong atmosphere; for some reason it reminds me of a darker and less
poppy version of Duncan Sheik's "Barely Breathing."
The key to many of these songs is the electronic element - aside
from State Shirt's trademark sound samples, the music is often
run on digitally-enhanced beats, which sound crisp and clear instead
of contrived and tinny.
Most of these songs are particularly enjoyable, though some fall
through the cracks. Every once in awhile you'll find something
too bland or forgettable ("A Variation on Two"), though more
successful tunes like "It Is a Shame My Binoculars Don't Work at
Night" and "Not a Kid Anymore" seem to balance this
There is enough melody on Don't Die to make it a successful
album for anyone in need of a little epic alternative rock. It
also isn't as contrived as one may expect, usually embellishing in
drama rather than angst and whininess. As far as radio-friendly
rock music goes, you could do a lot worse than State Shirt.
Fun Fact: Many of Don't Die's
songs were made for songfight.com competitions, which are frequent
contests in which a song title is provided, and a group of bands
compete to make the best song using it (with a winner decided by
votes). State Shirt's "Straw Man" and
"Back to the Airplanes" won their respective songfights.
Also, State Shirt's biography is an
interesting tale that involves many breakups and reencounters with his
musical craft. His first introduction to recording music:
"Bought a keyboard in 5th grade,
brought it to school and got made fun of. Went back home and
recorded 1000 goofy seven second long songs on portable cassette
State Shirt, if you're reading this -
Indieville implores you to release these seven second songs on CD!
11 tracks, distributed by the
label, released 2004]