State Champs - Apparently, I'm Nothing EP
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: January 1, 2011
The other day I was at the Paper + Plastick warehouse and one of the employees put Carpenter's latest release, Sea to Sky, on the turntable. He said that he never listened to the whole record because he couldn't get past how good the opening song was. I reviewed that record a few months back and thought it was phenomenal, so I told him that he needed to get on that and listen to the rest of it.
Later that day, I realized I was sort of doing the same thing with State Champs' Apparently, I'm Nothing EP. The band's debut release opens with "How It Used To Be," one of the first instant-classic pop punk songs of the new year. Almost every quality band writes one or more of these songs on each new release, and with this song leading things off, the listener knows that Apparently, I'm Nothing is going to be a solid venture.
The opener starts off highlighting Derek Discanio's vocals, which suit this music very well. Later on, the guitar and drum work are brought to the forefront, showing that this band has the patience to write some solid instrumentals. The bridge features gang vocals crying out, "It's not how it used to be / I agree / We're growing up but I'll stay young / Even if it kills me." The bridge will make for an excellent sing-along when you see State Champs opening for your favorite bands later this year.
As we get deeper into the release, a few cuts really stand out, like "The Record" and "Shades of Grey," which stand back-to-back in the middle of the EP. The former starts out with your essential guitar riff that will make college kids jump on their best friend's back at shows, while the latter sees Discanio belting out, "So they say / There are shades of grey in a lifetime / If that's so, I'll let you know / That I'm looking on the bright side." It's one-liners like those that give this EP that little extra "oomph" and make these songs fun to sing along to.
"Stick Around" is the acoustic closer to the EP, a cliché that has been done many times. The song isn't really all that special and doesn't stand out compared to the more choice cuts on the release, but the band is young and learning. For its first release, State Champs admirably shows how DIY bands should be approaching things. They concentrated on the music first; not the Twitter handle, not the Facebook fans, and not the Myspace page (lol I mean my_____). The result was an EP that can be played on repeat over and over again without getting old.
In my opinion, this is a fairly easy call. This band has the potential that I have seen in other bands, like Hands on the Stereo or Same As Sunday, that are very similar to State Champs. The difference is in the intangibles, and I can't see this band staying as unknown as it is for very long.