State Champs – UNPLUGGED
Released: August 14th 2020
Derek DiScanio | vocals
Ryan Scott Graham | bass
Evan Ambrosio | drums
Tyler Szalkowski | lead guitar
For those that follow US pop punk act State Champs religiously on social media (guilty), would know that the band are hard at work writing and recording their upcoming full-length album (release date TBA). While we are so excited to see what they come up with on album #5, it is lovely of the boys to keep us at bay with a small taste of what’s to come in the form of an acoustic EP. UNPLUGGED sees State Champs scale back to their roots, armed with just an acoustic guitar, hanging out, writing new songs and even playing around with some classics from their 2018 release, Living Proof.
The EP kicks off with a lovely little number, ‘A Thousand Hearts’ and I can just envision an intimate live setting with the band post-COVID here. It’s a cute track about being all loved up and head over heels for someone and the band have even added a saxophone number on this, which kinda jazzes up the vibe some more. Aww, it kinda makes you want to grab your other half for a snuggle here!
‘The Recipe’ follows along the same veins, and it’s straight up…a recipe for love. Vocalist Derek DiScanio is one of the most prominent voices in today’s pop punk scene, and I’m pretty sure we can all agree he’s about as iconic as All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth and Simple Plan’s Pierre Bouvier. His vocals against the chill strum of the acoustic guitar is kinda soothing to the soul, almost as if he’s singing to just you.
It’s not all love and happy vibes though, and that’s the beauty in State Champs. While these guys have the ability to come up with some happy-go-lucky songs that make you feel good inside, they can also pen songs of pent up angst and frustration. ’10am’ still has that chill, acoustic feel of the overall EP, yet it explores emotions of unrequited love. It’s the band’s most experimental track to date, with an added electronic beat over the acoustic strums.
‘Crying Out Loud’ was the leading single for this release, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s undeniably catchy, almost reminiscent of the band’s previous acoustic release ‘If I’m Lucky’ in the best way a breakup song will do. The song pulls at your heartstrings, but by the end you’ll be feeling so empowered about that recent breakup you went through.
Something I haven’t mentioned yet is the reason for the release of UNPLUGGED. State Champs are celebrating their 10th year as a band, and it wouldn’t be an acoustic release without a little somethin’ from their current discography to celebrate. They’ve picked probably two of the most popular tracks from Living Proof – ‘Criminal’ and ‘Dead and Gone’ – and given both songs an acoustic awakening. Both tracks are incredibly upbeat and infectious on the album, but this edition breathes new life into the songs. I have to specifically talk about ‘Dead and Gone’. The OG track is a straight up mosh anthem (and one of the best songs to come out of 2018) and what they’ve done here is strip the instrumentals completely, but kept its overall catchiness so it’s still an enjoyable sing along. Almost as if it’s perfect for a COVIDsafe venue. (fingers crossed!)
UNPLUGGED is your perfect afternoon soundtrack. It is a celebration of the past 10 years for State Champs, and it’s a pretty cool release for sucha huge milestone for the band. Absolutely recommend for any fan of the boys, but also for anyone who appreciates a good ol’ acoustic song. It’s 2020, we’re all at home more and living life at a much slower pace now. So really, what else have you got going on at the moment?
State Champs – UNPLUGGED EP tracklisting:
1. A Thousand Hearts
2. The Recipe
3. 10 AM
4. Crying Out Loud
5. Criminal (Acoustic)
6. Dead & Gone (Acoustic)