The history of Dylan Champagne is a curious one. If the press release is to be believed, his musical heritage consists of “sea shanties, crickets, Casey Kasem’s Top 40 and the occasional early 20th century composer.” The result of these combined influence is an extraordinary soundtrack to an imagined (one must believe this to be the case, else it is altogether too real) apocalypse, inspired by growing up in an America under Reagan and constant nuclear threat.
In spite of this, Champagne’s second solo release, after 2008’s New Equation, sees him emerging from, rather than retreating to, his basement:
“On this album I tried to reach out a bit instead of doing the whole thing in my basement by myself. I wanted to get some of my friends on this one since the themes are so much about people and connections. I’m looking forward to getting a group together to perform some of this material in all its strangeness.”
What stands out immediately is the energy contained within every track, each as lyrically intense as they are musically complex. It is proof – and proof could be said to be needed – that contemporary punk can be more than a directionless knee-jerk lashing out at the world and that folk can convey more than mere simple stories.
Love Songs of the Apocalypse, Volume 1 is available through Champagne’s website (where you can also find a free download link for California Song). In the UK, you could get a digital download from Amazon, and probably from iTunes, but I do not use that myself anymore so cannot say for certain.