Hey Champ: Star

RIYL: Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic,” The Buggles, Bourgeois Tagg

There aren’t many bands that can speak to fans of Alphaville, Yes, Bourgeois Tagg and Tangerine Dream, yet there but for the grace of God go Chicago trio Hey Champ. Armed with only a guitar, a drum set and a couple of vintage keyboards, Hey Champ’s debut album Star is a strange blend of synth pop, rock and jazzy prog, and while that might sound like a band in the midst of an identity crisis, Hey Champ combines these elements quite meticulously.


The beauty of melding such disparate influences is that it yields a variety of sounds. “Word=War” channels Death Cab for Cutie at their most anthemic (much of that due to singer Saam Hagshenas’ uncanny impression of Ben Gibbard, thankfully relegated to this one song), while “Shake” blends New Order guitar lines with keyboard riffs that could have come from a Saga record. Some of their chord sequences are of the borrowed variety – the chorus to “So American” is not far removed from “Comfortably Numb,” and the end of the great “Steampunk Camelot” bears resemblance to Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” minus the pomposity – but these guys aren’t thieves; they’re musicologists, and Star is the work of one wildly diverse record collection. One of the smarter synth pop records you’ll hear this year, or any other. (Townie Records 2010)

Hey Champ MySpace page
Click to buy Star from Amazon