The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Rockin' Our Turntable: Hey Champ

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 13, 2010 4:20PM

2010_07_hey_champ_star.jpg These days it's difficult to put much time into really listening to an album beyond a handful of spins before you have to begin drafting a review. Sometimes this leads to overenthusiastic reviews of undeserving disc that quickly deteriorate on subsequent listens, or unfairly malign works that my need more time to reveal their charms. With Hey Champ we find ourselves in the odd position of reviewing a piece of work after having it in our hands for the past year. The disc was due to be released last summer but due to a number of circumstances including switching to a different label, their "debut" finally comes out today.

Star isn't the first album Hey Champ has recorded, but it's certainly the one with the highest profile, and for many it will be their first exposure to the bad outside their lives shows or the handful of MP3s the group has released online over the last three years. In many ways it's been a massive build up since preliminary recording began when the band was still playing to a handful of friends at street fests and finishing up the pre-mastered result around their opening slot at Lollapalooza last year. In the time since then the group has toured relentlessly and further sharpened their already impressive live chops.

So, the question that's on everyone's mind on this point has to be now that the band's long tease is finally revealed will the reveal prove satisfying?

In our opinion the answer to that is a resounding yes. The band's electro-rock proves it has the backing of solid song writing as it's '80s influenced pop meets new millennial sheen to create songs that stay with you long after the dance floor has cleared. We think listeners will actually be surprised at some of the music's bite -- all the kids that have been bouncing around to "No Future," "Word=War," and "So American" can finally hear Saam Hagshenas's less than optimistic lyrics -- and Jonathan Marks' rock drumming chops bounce nicely off Hagshenas's and Peter Dougherty's synth work. The trio's mastery of the studio is complimented by their maturation as a ferocious live band to create finely refined songs that still have an analog heart throbbing at the center of each and every song. Much of their music is rooted in earlier traditions but they've taken those inclinations and made them wholly their own. They've graduated from the equivalent of having a single cut on a John Hughes soundtrack into a band ready to take on the world on their own terms.

With Star Hey Champ has handled the rare feat of creating a dance rock album that still sounds as exciting to our ears a year after we first heard it. Hey Champ fans should have no worry that the band will disappoint their ears and hips with Star, and if there's any justice we're looking forward to their infectious sound to spread though a larger fan base.