grand champeen:



Members: Channing Lewis, Michael Crow, Ned Stewart, and Alex Livingstone
current release:
"relentless rocker, criminally catchy pop melodies give way to gnarled guitar solos"

If Grand Champeen's sophomore album Battle Cry for Help was an earnest, somewhat quixotic attempt by four ardent students of rock to demonstrate what they've learned from forefathers as venerated as the Rolling Stones and the Replacements, The one that brought you is the wee-hours afterparty where the grades aren't in yet and the drunken graduates no longer give a shit. You can hear this not-giving-a-shit in the tangled snarl of squealing feedback and excited cries that is this album's opener, a power-pop nugget tossed off with so little regard for its own perfection that it nearly tumbles into thrilling chaos more than once before each band member suddenly lurches into a last-ditch dash to see who can finish the song first. You can hear it in the cheekily rad riffs that adorn nearly every song and are wrenched out with such offhand ferocity that they recall the MC5 anticipating Thin Lizzy. You can hear it in "One and Only," a spot-on radio-ready ballad that has been slammed to tape so hot it sounds like it's coming out of a rapidly melting AM radio.

But in the process of having a good time and rocking like they don't give a shit, these four alumni of "Grand Champeen-courageous, fighting and brave" (as taken from this album's penultimate track, a fight song entitled "Alma Mater") also happen to have created the album that most faithfully documents their live show, a sloshed bacchanal of towering riffage and throat-shredding screams that the band has slowly honed in grimy dives across the country since their earliest gigs in high school. Austin, TX regards Grand Champeen as a perennial contender for the most crushing rock band in town, and, on The one that brought you, you can hear why. Relentless rocker buts up against even-more-relentless rocker, criminally catchy pop melodies give way to gnarled guitar solos that suggest Neil Young filtered through Thurston Moore, and, at the exact moment when the guitar skronk and fuzz bass finally start getting too thick, the Champeens smooth things out with ballads as tender as "Step into My Heart" - all meandering guitarwork and breathy promises of love - or the wry, Magnetic Fieldsian "Bottle Glass."

As mentioned above, these guys have been at it since they were kids. Main songwriter Channing Lewis, lead guitarist Michael Crow, and drummer Ned Stewart played together in high school in the early 90s. In 2000 they self-released their debut album Out Front By The Van under the name Grand Champeen - and later that year augmented their troupe with bassist and songwriter Alex Livingstone. Since then they've toured tirelessly including gigs with Spoon, Centro-matic, The Anniversary and several packed South By Southwest showcases. Battle Cry For Help was released in 2002 on upstart Austin-indie glurp to tons of critical accolades including frequent comparisons to post-punk gods from hallowed lands like Minneapolis and Chapel Hill. Hollywood came calling too and Kevin Spacey got it on to a GC tune on the soundtrack to last year's death penalty thriller, The Life of David Gale directed by Alan Parker.

All of this makes the Champeens sound like a band that works too hard; thankfully, what went to tape on those late-night sessions at GC's legendary studio, The Adult Audio Megaplex, for The one that brought you sounds nothing like work at all. It sounds instead like a deafening midnight gig when no-one's there so the band starts playing for themselves, like the thrill of discovering something new or the giddy delight of really pissing somebody off, like the moment when a rock band previously too tired or too drunk to care is suddenly and violently animated by a savage blast of second wind.

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