STATE COWS – Challenges +2 [Japanese Edition] (2020) *EXCLUSIVE*
STATE COWS got released in Japan today, March 25, their last album “Challenges +2 [Japanese Edition]” including two bonus tracks.
The Swedish combo is one of the few current acts truly faithful to the classic sound of early ’80s West Coast AOR.
Characterized for their crystal clear studio recordings with a clinical attention to detail in the style of the L.A. Session golden era, this new State Cows collection of songs is just another superb slice of smooth AOR.
Darn, they even got the legendary Michael Landau dropping a sweet solo on one track here.
Overall, many of the songs into “Challenges” are more AOR / melodic rock oriented than their previous work.
Just check opener ‘I Got the Message’; guitars are more muscular, the rhythm section more dynamic, and the vocals joyful / uptempo. And while follower ‘Borrowed Time’ – featuring a great Landau – are close to first half of their ’80s Toto, it’s closer to their ‘rocking side’.
There’s a classy State Cows ballad in ‘Darwin Awards’, a cool radio-poppy circa ’84 tune in ‘Ain’t Nobody’, and smoothness on ‘Deportee’ which is some kind of a mix between Player and Peter Friestedt.
“Waiting for Love” has a Kenny Loggins-like smell and perhaps Bill Champlin, and for the elegant midtempo ballad ‘All Over’ (in the vein of the Cows’ first album) they invited the original guitarist on that album – Fredrik Lundgren – to play guitar on the track.
‘Cease to Ever Have Been’ is a sweet tune with a first half of the ’80s aura, but somehow brings to my mind a song by Swedes Houston.
The Japanese edition bonus tracks are ‘Center of the Sun (New Version)’, a re-recorded / re-mixed song composed by the Cows many years ago, and an newly recorded version of Toto’s classic ‘Georgy Porgy’.
If you go and turn on the radio nowadays there’s a 99% chance to hear a programmed beat or auto-tuned processed vocals.
Instead, push play to “Challenges” and imagine you’re in 1982, and that FM airwaves come to your ears like a summer breeze…
01 – Borrowed Time
02 – Darwin Awards
03 – All Over
04 – Deportee
05 – Waiting for Love
06 – I Got the Message
07 – Human Ladders
08 – Cease to Ever Have Been
09 – Wildfire
JAPAN BONUS TRACKS:
10 – Center of the Sun (New Version)
11 – Georgy Porgy [Toto cover] (New Version)
Daniel Andersson: lead and background vocals
Stefan Olofsson: keyboards, bass, guitars, background vocals
Samuel Muntlin: saxophone
Peter Olofsson, Kai Jokiaho: drums
Mikael Emsing: percussion
Christian Thomsen: background vocals
Fredrik Lundgren: guest guitar solo on 3
Göran Turborn: guest lead guitar on 4, 5
Colm Lindsay: guest lead guitar on 2
Michael Landau: guest lead guitar on 1