State Champion, Stale Champagne, Sophomore Lounge Records, 2010
Wow. Just wow. I have not heard a new artist with this much potential in a long time, particularly from the alt/country world which lately seems determined to become a piece of lint inside Jeff Tweedy's bloated naval. The facts before the praise: State Champion are from Louisville and are fronted by a guy named Ryan Davis. Champagne is their first full length and it's a bad ass, kick ass, introduction to a band that could single-handedly resurrect the wild and youthful spirit of a once fertile genre. Anchored by a steady backbone of expert songwriting ala The Drive by Truckers and The Old '97s, but revelling in the rough edges that ripped bands like Whiskeytown apart, the brilliance of Champagne as a debut seems almost effortless, as if it were recorded a decade ago and intentionally held back to be released just in the nick of time.
From the opener 'Thanks Given' it's clear the band has enough twang and circumstance to compete with anything coming out of Texas, but with a clear understanding of the importance of rocking out and the songs that follow are a mix of down home jams and anthemic country rock singalongs for indie kids that have pulled their heads out of their asses and put down the Vampire Weekend crap. Personally, I found myself applauding at the end of each track on the CD. Pay attention, you'll hear about these guys again. -jack partain