These guys are spread out as per the diaspora of punk, hailing from different areas of the midwest and New York City. They play an extremely melodic, yet aggressive brand of punk rock that harkens back to M-Blanket and asks "what if Jawbreaker's first few records had good production quality?" The instrumentation is very dramatic and mature, complete with a horn section, harmonica and keys on top of the expected four-piece punk band set up. This eight song LP on Detroit's Salina's Records seems like a stage in growing up for the members; as their Myspace bio says: "It's about being an adult and building community, because, well, that's the only thing that's going to keep you from succumbing to whatever it is that's trying to kill you." - Mike Campbell
"Cities Were Not From is the debut album from The State Lottery. The band is based out of Detroit and Queens with members of The Gibbons, Dynamite Arrows and Get Bent. As the opening chords of the title track ring out to start the record, you can feel something special in the air. Cities Were Not From has a lot to do with growing up, growing older, moving around and subsequently moving on.
The title track explores moving from city to city only to realize we can not run from what inherently makes us unhappy. We live in cities were not from/Make our beds in neighborhoods that we barely belong/Searching for some sort of community/And it seems alright, but I cant deny that Im still so lonely. Kindgarten Class is simple in its outright questioning of Americas pursuit of war: Weve declared endless war armed with the infantile concept of good vs. bad. Night Of The Johnstown Flood is straightforward and biting in its lyrical approach. And the America enshrined in my parents hearts and minds is a language I dont speak, no it means nothing to me. It is an unfortunate sentiment of many in our generation whether we want to admit it or not. Cities Were Not From explores so much of the (American) human condition but at its heart, the album is a restless search and desperate hope to find and build a community for survival.
Cities Were Not From sounds like such a natural progression from guys who have spent their lives in punk bands. This is punk rock but done so with sense of maturity and humility for all who have passed before. Cities Were Not From is angry and political, yet eternally hopeful; powerful and aggressive, yet keenly melodic. The instrumental additions of keys, horns and harmonica add a fresh dynamic to the traditional punk band setting. With Cities Were Not From, The State Lottery have delivered one of best albums of the year. These eight songs are a moving testament to the heart and soul of punk rock. Sing these tired songs. Youre gonna miss em when theyre gone. Indeed." - Sound As Language
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. - Punknews