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State Cows - s/t

The return of WestCoast rock

[Italian version]

Artist/band: State Cows - Sweden
Album details: CD "State Cows" - 2010 - Avenue 10 08 0016 by Avenue of Allies Music
Sample under test: Made in the EU
Genre: Westcoast/AOR
Approx. price: 12€ (8€ MP3 download)
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Reviewed: July, 2011

[State Cows]
State Cows debut album


Fan of AOR anyone? Bands like Steely Dan, Chicago, Toto, Hall & Oates are your regular cup of tea? Well, then this is the album you were waiting for! State Cows is a Swedish band inspired by the sound of the glorious Westcoast AOR (Album Oriented Rock) big bands. I've been waiting for so long for a new album from Steely Dan...and here it is, signed, sealed and delivered right to my door! State Cows are Daniel Andersson (vocals, guitar) and Stefan Olofsson (keyboards, bass) and if nobody tells you they are from Sweden you'd swear they come right from the West Coast of the USA. Born as a Steely Dan cover band during the college years these guys have succeeded in finding their own style, an elegant cocktail of rock, jazz, soul and rhythm'n'blues.

The sound of the WestCoast...of Sweden?

Let me put this straight: this album is a real surprise and, what's worse, it is extremely addictive too: put it into you CD player and you'll listen to it again and again - stuck in reapeat - for weeks, without feeling the need for something different. I has quickly become my daughter's favourite album in a snap!
Oh yes, there's nothing really NEW (I mean, innovative) inside but if you feel the need for plain and simple good songs, magistrally played and arranged, you've just found what you were searching for. Just listen to the first track (I've changed) and you'll be hooked! It is a perfect Steely Dan-style song with an irresistible pace and rhythm. And what about New York Town? Plain AOR of the highest class!
Surfing through the 11 tracks of this self-titled first album it is hard to find a song that is less entertaining than the others, though it contains pearls that shine a little bit brighter: the already cited I've changed and New York Town, Mistery Jane and Lost in a mind game. There's also a brief instrumental track (No man's land).

Before analyzing the most relevant aspects of the recording, let me show you the screenshot of the DR software applied to this recording. Let me remind you the DR software measures the amount of (average) dynamics contained in a recording, for more details please refer to our list of records analyzed via this software.

 DR   	   Peak     	   RMS      	 Filename

 DR9	  -0.10 dB	 -10.85 dB	 Track01.wav
 DR11	  -0.10 dB	 -13.01 dB	 Track02.wav
 DR11	  -0.10 dB	 -13.12 dB	 Track03.wav
 DR11	  -0.10 dB	 -12.83 dB	 Track04.wav
 DR10	  -0.10 dB	 -12.24 dB	 Track05.wav
 DR10	  -0.10 dB	 -12.36 dB	 Track06.wav
 DR10	  -0.10 dB	 -12.91 dB	 Track07.wav
 DR10	  -0.10 dB	 -12.91 dB	 Track08.wav
 DR11	  -0.10 dB	 -13.11 dB	 Track09.wav
 DR9	  -0.10 dB	 -12.18 dB	 Track10.wav
 DR10	  -0.10 dB	 -12.04 dB	 Track11.wav
 Number of files:    11
 Official DR value:  DR10 

From the chart above you can see the measured average is DR10, which is a quite good result considering this is NO audiophile recording. For example Naim Audio Forcione's album "Tears of joy" (on Naim Audio audiophile label!) scores a DR12 value. It is true that dynamics don't tell everything about the quality of a recording but we believe it is a good point to start with.

This album has been written, produced and arranged by Stefan Olofsson and Daniel Andersson, while it has been mixed by Daniel Lindforss and Stefan Olofsson. The recording has been made at the White Cherry Hill Studios while final mastering took place at Cosmos Mastering, by Christofer Stannow.
Technically, this is a very good recording, as you'd expect from a band inspired by Steely Dan! Many albums by the Becker/Fagen duo have been considered references by audiophiles (Gaucho, Aja and how can I forget Fagen's solo "The nightfly"?). State Cows tried to get the same kind of sound for their first album so, for example, they close-miked the drums with four microphones. The final result is very good and even if certain Steely Dan recordings might appear a bit more sophisticated this album contains exactly the same kind of sound: detailed, crisp, fast and controlled while distortion levels have been kept very low. For sure, it invites you to turn the volume louder and louder.
Bass lines are always clean, tight and easy to follow; keyboard patterns, horns sections and guitar parts blend together seamlessly; vocals appear to be correctly miked. It is not a pure Real Stereo recording but it still sounds very natural.
Under the analysis of our DR software the final result appears to be good, averaging DR10, with many tracks scoring DR11. As said, this is not a bad result for a non-audiophile recording, but perhaps State Cows should have tried to produce a slightly more dynamic recording, avoiding the loudness war that forced the recording engineer to stay so damn close to the 0 dB during peaks. Despite of this, the sound of this album is never in your face or shouty, so it is very enjoyable, even at high listening levels for a long time.


If you are a fan of this musical genre I have nothing more to say than...buy ths CD! Otherwise, have a listen to the MP3 excerpts on their official store or have a look at the live videos on their YouTube channel. These guys certainly deserve serious attention.

© Copyright 2011 Lucio Cadeddu - direttore@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com

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