State Champion – Stale Champagne
How do you like your rock? Dirty? I thought so. Well take that Dead Weather vinyl off the record player, there’s an even more alcohol-fueled dirty miss of a rock album after arriving. Stale Champagne is a sonic mindfuck of a record with bizarrely brilliant lyrics underlaid by fantastic floor-stomping country rock.
State Champion is the child of Ryan Davis, and is like a more raucous Wilco. If Jeff Tweedy is the man at the bar drinking whiskey, Davis is the one on the floor with the broken pool cue across his back. Amazingly, this album has stayed under my radar until now – it was released in January – but it’s too good for me not to highlight its brilliance.
The production qualities on the record are nil, it has a one-take urgency to it, which gives the album a wonderful raw quality. It’s only fortyish minutes in length, and features eight songs – every one of them an alt.country jam. The songs go from heartfelt to angry. ‘Come See What I Have Done’ is the album’s essential ballad. It’s a bitter tale of lost love. What else would you expect? ‘Bite the Dust’ sounds like a grittier country Gaslight Anthem, and features the angry refrain (well it would be a refrain if State Champion followed usual song structures) “Saying cuss words at the ground / Things like fuck / shit / goddamn”. By the third listen you’ll be bellowing out the words along with Davis, all the while reaching for another Jack Daniels.
Stale Champagne screams out to be played again, and again. It’s one of those albums that you’ll find yourself playing in its entirety just after it’s finished. Each of the songs has its own appeal. Sabrina Rush’s mandolin on ‘Help Me Sing’ is fantastic, and for some reason the song reminds me of Beggar’s Banquet. For me, the song is the standout. As well as the beautifulstrings, there’s also wonderful guitar riffs, and Davis’s empowering vocals. Hugely enjoyable. It’s exactly what I’d imagine a cross between The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather would sound like.
If you’ve gone six months without hearing this album, you no longer have an excuse. I’ve told you of its greatness. Now go and get it.
State Champion – ‘Bite the Dust’