Having worked with The Story So Far and Forever Came Calling, Pure Noise records could be regarded as heavyweight champions of the easy core scene, its fitting then that their latest release ‘Overslept’ comes from New York City’s State Champs and although there is quite a buzz surrounding their brand of backward-new-era-hat pop punk they have, in the past, come under substantial criticism for running at half-steam with critics tossing ‘Apparently, I’m Nothing’ firmly in the underachievers corner.
The defiant opener ‘Tonsil Hockey’ lasts just 40 seconds it’s a summery burst of hardcore that leads well into the first song but it’s necessity is rather questionable seeing as the EP clocks in at just under twelve minutes. Before the vocals kick in you’d be forgiven for thinking State Champs were aiming for the kind of hardcore revival sound of bands like Title Fight, especially given the guitar work which is fast paced, intelligent and stompy – quite refreshing in a genre that isn’t exactly renowned for breaking free of restrictive templates that are typically composed of double bass pedal led breakdowns and gang vocals. It’s a shame then that the boundary hurdling of the State Champs music is let down vocally. Derek DiScamio’s singing is far from awful, it just misses the mark a little and not because he’s a bad vocalist, exactly the opposite he’s very good but also very, very polished, there’s lots of Patrick Stump esque vocal runs that unfortunately go someway to carting State Champs right back into the pop punk box and thwarting any attempts at pushing boundaries.
That said, there no real clash between the two styles, although DiScamio’s You Me at Six style vocals might not excite everyone’s taste buds they generally integrate pretty well, especially in the closing track ‘Remedy’ which offers up some added bite. It’s notable that their producer is Jay Maas, known for working with Transit and Defeater, two bands who are seemingly connecting well with current trends in hardcore (ask tumblr) and it may explain the progressive nature of the music. It’s unfortunate that State Champs don’t seem quite ready to harness their potential, all the raw materials are there for them to use and indeed its clear musically they have the muscle to create some truly challenging and original music, ‘Overslept’ just isn’t it.