By Scott Caffrey
Every once in a while, I’ll happen upon a band whose name actually speaks for its sound very well. And by the time I got the self-titled album by Apollo Sunshine, it had been years. Almost immediately, my head was able to conjure up all sorts of possibilities.
And it promptly took one full spin to realize that the name was not only infinitely accurate, but also that this is a band to keep tabs on. Apollo Sunshine is a smart, determined statement that left me wanting a lot more. Literally, every song is worthy of its own review. Far too many of my early descriptions unfairly fall into that Spin cliché (like, “’Flip!’ begins as a Sun Ra odyssey that morphs into a Double-Trouble thump whirred into a Phish blender”). Thankfully, it was the band’s obvious organic talent that forced me into thinking otherwise.
Eventually I realized that it isn’t enough to compare any of their songs to anyone else, or to any specific genre for that matter.
Press play and start to hear all sorts of sounds you think you’ve heard before. And yet, it’s so real and unabated, you know this music is different. This band is different. See, all those similarities and collages do exist within the album proper, but they’re treated more like bases or jumping-off points. Apollo Sunshine can stand proud on the simple fact that they are talented enough to use those sounds as a base. They take a bunch of tried-and-true rock foundations that have always existed and build their own thang on top of that.
The first trio to really grab the listener starts with “A Finger Pointing at the Moon,” a beautifully psychedelic, acoustic tune that serves as an intro to a balls-out fist pumper – “Phoney Maroney.” I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the band had a huge party, got smashed with their friends, and moved the proceedings to the garage and pressed record. It’s a rave-up to be sure. It’s one of the most fun songs I’ve heard in years and begs to be noticed. “Today is the Day” borrows from rockabilly by copping a big boogie lick and a mixer dance groove.
Perhaps the best part of Apollo Sunshine is that the listener honestly has no idea what to expect from cut to cut. By the third track, I smiled, threw up my hands, and stopped trying to figure out what to consider them. These boys are obviously having a lot of fun making music the way they want it to sound. You’d do well to pick up Apollo Sunshine and spin it a few times before the summer’s out. And don’t bother fighting back that smile.
Listen to Apollo Sunshine while you read.
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