Sam Champion

Slow Rewind

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New York's Sam Champion love Pavement. Named for either a local weatherman or a character from the 1974 TV drama Murder of Mercy, the midtempo-obsessed quartet sounds more like a smart-ass version of Eleventh Dream Day than the band's more obvious heroes. Frontman Noah Chernin's Stephen Malkmus/Lou Reed-inspired drawl allows lyrics like "I am aggressively lazy" to descend out of his mouth like a drunk on a high dive, occasionally screaming for effect -- it's derivative, but likable. There would be a nice Americana vibe to the aptly titled Slow Rewind if the fuzzed-out guitars ever changed their tone -- they're muddy even when clean. Two ballads, "You Can't See the Stars in This Town" and "Texas Song," hint at that sunset beauty but are eclipsed by the fact that if listeners aren't already asleep by the time the songs arrive, they'll have no choice but to submit to sweet darkness within three measures. Sam Champion don't suck, but they need to either switch on or switch off.

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