The State Lottery - Cities We're Not From [12 inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The State Lottery

Cities We're Not From [12 inch] (2008)


The State Lottery's full-length release, Cities We're Not From, nicely enscapulates the uncomfortability and searching that plenty mid-20s punks go through. And musically, it soundtracks it with a style and familiarity that should ride well with many of us, too.

There's a raspiness and mild snarl in vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Bobby Gibbons' voice that has a bit of Schwarzenbach about it, but instrumentally, they remind me more of the Weakerthans circa Left and Leaving. After all, these eight well-recorded songs run the gamut from more driven, punk-leaning pushes to more laid-back, Americana-tinged vibes, blessing the album with a healthy variation. There are little flourishes that add great elements, too, like the hum of organ-esque keyboard on several tracks, the complementary brass on the articulate war criticism of "Kindergarten Class" and the cool contrast of female vocals on "Two Way Street."

As aforementioned, the album's themes are rather central to it, too. The title might sound like awkward tourism to some, but it's explained in the first stanza of the opening title track: "We live in cities we're not from / Make our beds in neighborhoods that we barely belong / Searching for some sort of community / And it seems alright, but I can't deny that I'm still so lonely." Living an hour and change east of NYC, I have plenty of friends who fit this description, so it resonates with me well. Plus, the band's general aesthetic remind me of the beloved Bridge and Tunnel (likely friends), so that can't hurt.

With repeated listens, the music and the message of Cities We're Not From grows stronger and builds a solid emotional connection with the listener. This is honest and intelligent, well-crafted stuff.

Cities We're Not From