Review Summary: Pop punk champs.
Having just released their eponymous debut EP last summer, self-proclaimed “DIY pop punk band from Albany, NY,” State Champs are a fairly new group. Still unsigned in early 2011, the band put out a second EP titled Apparently I’m Nothing,
which included all five-tracks from the self-titled EP, as well as four brand new songs as well. Comparing the first half of the EP to the latter shows consistency between the two releases, and makes the listener certain of one fact: State Champs don’t just write pop punk songs, but instead anthems
The gang-vocal ridden opening track, How It Used to Be,
is upbeat, and unavoidably catchy – a perfect glimpse of what is left to come on the rest of the EP. State Champs may at first seem to tread familiar ground, but the fact that they do pop punk so damn well makes up for any lack of originality. Additionally, the production on the EP is crisp and powerful, with instruments and Derek DiScanio’s impressive vocals perfectly in balance. A lot of current punk bands manage to get by with raspy, mediocre-at-best vocalists, but this is not the case with State Champs. DiScanio can sing, and if the first eight tracks are not convincing enough, the acoustic bonus track will prove it to anyone who is skeptical.
As the EP continues, State Champs make it obvious that there is absolutely no filler on the EP. Every chorus or bridge is well placed, and every build-up is executed with a sense of purpose. In If It Helps You Focus,
the band seamlessly transitions from the chorus to an upbeat “breakdown,” if you will, complete with a bass drop, without sounding at all contrived.
State Champs’ obvious talent allows them to use familiar pop punk elements (lyrics about friendship, gang chants, catchy choruses) without coming off as silly or uninspired, and that is what makes them so loveable. They are not afraid to play something you may think you have heard before, because they know they can pull it off better than 90% of current bands cashing in on the pop punk trend.