Album Review: State Champs – Unplugged

NY pop-punk outfit State Champs are dropping their new Unplugged EP this Friday. 

Celebrating their 10th anniversary, State Champs are releasing a very special acoustic EP this Friday via Rude Records. Unplugged includes some fan favourites as well as new tracks to give fans a little taster of what the band have been working on in lockdown.

In fact, the EP is much more than simply a bunch of reimagined tracks – with four new songs that have been written and recorded specifically for the setting of this record, the band showcase their influences from pop to country as well as their musical songwriting skills in the reworked versions of Criminal and Dead And Gone, originally on the band’s last critically-acclaimed record Living Proof. 

“The Unplugged EP is special for us for many reasons, one main reason being the writing process. We feel like we really went back to our roots, you know, just the band, in a room with an acoustic guitar, writing songs and having fun” shared DiScanio on the upcoming EP. “We tend to execute our best material in an environment that is stress free and organic. Our fans have been asking for new acoustic, stripped down material for quite some time, we’re happy to say it’s here”.

Kicking things off with A Thousand Hearts, which immediately sets the mood and scene for the rest of the record with its mellow guitar picking and soft vocals from Derek DiScanio. The love song paints the picture of a couple that after being with other people and self-discovery have finally found each other. As a saxophone makes its entrance at the end of the track, the band’s non-punk influences come to light in the shape of some smooth jazz.

The country vibes of the following The Recipe with its strumming and summer-fresh melodies partnered with lyrics about love and relationships are just the perfect combination for this acoustic EP. Along the way State Champs never lose their roots, with quiet electric guitars fuzzing in the back and anthemic choruses provide the bridge between the two.

Most recently release single 10AM shows the next elevation for State Champs. Something pop-punks big hitters have achieved over the last two years is release music that appeals to a wider audience outside of the scene (see All Time Low). And similarly 10AM is one of those tracks that is pop-friendly enough to get radio play but not too mainstream to lose its core audience. “10 AM might be the most experimental song we’ve written and recorded.” Derek explains about the song “However, it stemmed from a simple idea to have a mellow, acoustic, feel-good vibe, and mix it with lyrical frustration about questioning your worth in a relationship and unrequited love. We were able to bring in some unique electronic elements in post production to top everything off and we’re excited to see what everyone thinks of the final product.” he continues.

It is quite possible Crying Out Loud might have one of the best hooks in the history of acoustic pop-punk – the happy melodies combined with the deeply moody lyrics are the got-o recipe for pop-punk. The chorus gets stuck in your head like a sweet sticky melody. “Crying Out Loud took us the longest to get to a place where we truly felt excited about the song” shares vocalist Derek DiScanio. “Once we got there, we knew this emotionally heavy, yet upbeat tune about breakup, loneliness, and moving on would be a solid single”.

Finishing off the EP are two tracks form the band’s 2018 record Living Proof. Both previously released as high-energy riff-heavy singles, Criminal and Dead & Gone bring the record full circle and showcase that State Champs don’t just write killer hook-laden pop rock tunes but that given the chance to strip things back, the quartet excel beyond expectations.

For the ultimate summer soundtrack, blast Unplugged on loud on long car drives or in the backyard with your friends.