by Becky Kovach, edited by Erik van Rheenen
When you think about pop punk as a genre, there are a lot of things that usually come to mind, but outstanding vocalists may not necessarily make that list. So that is why State Champs is such a unique and welcome addition to the scene.
Frontman Derek Discanio’s voice is, to put it simply, swoon-worthy. It’s a cross between powerhouses Parker Cannon and Dave Mackinder, and coupled with the band’s striking musicianship, it’s enough to make people take notice of the up-and-comers from Upstate New York.
Discanio displays remarkable range and depth throughout the album. He can go from quietly pleading in “Elevated,” to half-speaking/half-singing in “Prepare To Be Noticed,” to full-on riffing in “Critical.” And that’s only half the story. His inflection in lines like, “I’m coming for you / I’m coming to make sure everything I heard is true / What’s it like to be the one who waited / Long enough to see the day / That I could feel again” (“Simple Existence”) displays a passion so intense that listeners can connect to it on an emotional level, even if they can’t directly relate to the lyrics.
Impressive vocals aren’t the only thing State Champs has going for them, though. The band is multifaceted, and proves it with each passing song. The drumming is explosive: it takes charge in “Deadly Conversation” and provides rollicking fills in “Critical.”