The State Champs

The State Champs

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Scrappy, spunky indie-guitar tunes with a female singer/songwriter, the State Champs are part of a respectable lineage that reaches back at least a couple decades to the early days of bands like Antietam and the Blake Babies. Singer/songwriter Amy Abts used to have a solo career (about half of these songs are in fact retreads from an obscure solo record Abts released in 2003), but the State Champs feel like a coherent band; in particular, guitarist Greg Conley's harmony vocals help a lot in avoiding the "singer/songwriter plus backing group" sound. And in 2007, The State Champs gets points simply for sounding so retro that it's refreshing. However, had the album been released in the golden age of this style of music (say, in between Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville and whitechocolatespaceegg), it likely would have been lost in the shuffle. Abts has an appealingly whiny voice that recalls Helium's Mary Timony in spots, and the band's spiky alt-rock interplay is casually enjoyable, but there is little in the songs themselves that truly grabs the listener's attention once the nostalgic glow of the overall sound has worn off. If a couple spins of The State Champs causes the listener to go back and dust off the old Bettie Serveert and Throwing Muses records, that's about as good an outcome as can be expected.

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