Tyler Gobble on State Champion’s Stale Champagne

I get sucked into the shuffle moment as well, craving that jam that makes my legs pump the fastest on my bike. But Charles is right, there’s something special too, that feeling that’ll never leave me, where I pop a record on and I just can’t turn it off. There are a few of these albums in my arsenal, most of which are on vinyl, which might be another essay in itself, but I think no matter the medium, one stands out above the rest: Stale Champagne by State Champion.

It’s always shining on Kentucky when you’re sad
But I ain’t mad about the weather
I just ain’t trying to feel much better about my past

These true rock n’ rollers came into my life when they played a show at my local record store a couple springs back. When I bought this album, it was nothing like I’d heard before. Five-minute songs wailing like what happens when kids get their Midwest and South intertwined, complete with quirky, wandering lyrics, and plenty of straight-up jamming. It’s got this indescribable catchiness that makes this essay hard to write while listening to the album.

I remember jumping from trees to shrubs
Pissing off all the flowers and bugs
We weren’t winning but we sure could pretend to be

To me, this thing is like a fresh pie you just can’t eat one piece of. Though in no apparent way a “concept” album by general definitions, this album blends together as a whole in a way that rattles me every time. As a whole, it builds to top-notch rockin’ then sooths itself with a ballad. Even within individual songs, the band rollercoasters through loud and fast, slow and soft, or some mix of those. And the lyrics, oh the lyrics trail out of the lead singer’s mouth with a brilliant sincerity that hooks me again and again.

Thanks for the praying mama
I’m not sure how that stuff works but it’s the thought that counts
Thanks for just saying mama that you like me around

Just check out a song like “Keeping Time,” the second song on the album, as the example of what I’m talking about. It speaks with a fearless, both musically and lyrically, that is both humbling and engaging. The thing that makes these songs pull me along is the pure catchiness of the tunes. Sincerely, I can’t think of another album that just seems to grab the human spirit and say FOLLOW ME. And follow I do.

And when I called I called to tell you
That your favorite of the athletes had died
He offed his family and left nothing
But an orchid on the nightstand alive

Basically, these songs radiate the kind of energy and care that work for me. I come from a Midwestern mom and a Southern dad and I have found myself pulled between these two temperaments my whole life. I guess also the lyrics, as a writer and as a human being in general, strike me as particularly moving and inspired. So when I start this album, I just can’t stop because woah-oh-woah it feels so right.

Tyler Gobble is lead editor of Stoked Journal, which is currently taking submissions for their second issue. Find more of his projects, writing, and ramblings at his blog.

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