By Chris Pacifico
In a day and age where most artists take themselves too damn seriously, it sure is nice to see a most utterly and freewheeling quartet like Boston-based Apollo Sunshine come along. Composed of Jesse Gallagher (vocals, guitar keys), Sam Cohen (guitar, vocals), Jeremy Black (drums), and Sean Alyward (bass, guitar, vocals), their most recent self-titled album (Spin Art) is laden with colorful melodies, Kinks-style wit, and the all around kaleidoscopic aura of The Flaming Lips.
S.Cohen, S.Alyward, J. Black, J. Gallagher
"We never try to stay within a genre," Gallagher explains. "We just like to go wherever the music takes us." And take you places it will.
Although I love my iPod, it is hard to overlook the fact that the true art of the album is an endangered concept. However, Apollo Sunshine is an album lover's album that in a way can seem like a rollicking opus. "Eyes" bounces about with Alyward's bubbly bass lines and some sugary yet idiosyncratic funk harmonies. "We never intended for it to sound like it does on the album," recalls Gallagher. "After a while we were just like Holy Shit! This sounds like 'Hey Ya.' Other album highlights include splashy power-pop nuggets like "Flip" and old timey alt-county stompers such as "Magnolia."
Apollo Sunshine :: 12.31.05 by Jon Bahr
Before releasing their debut Katonah in October 2003, Apollo Sunshine was flown out to California and offered a lucrative six-album deal on an MCA subsidiary. They declined the deal and made a home for themselves on the Spin Art label so that they could hold on to their masters. As Cohen reminisces about the major label offer, he simply states, "It just wasn't solid looking to us." From there, Apollo Sunshine hit the ground running, playing over 300 shows in support of the album as well as giving up their homes for two years in order to stay on the road. Even though the reviews were solid, Katonah was almost universally compared to the music of the scattered, dreamy indie-pop consortium Elephant 6 Collective. Gallagher says that no one in the band knew who they were. "We were like 'Who the fuck is the Elephant 6 Collective and why are we being compared to them?'"
Cohen nonetheless is an amazing guitar player to the point where it would be modest to label him as a virtuoso. Throughout Apollo Sunshine's songs, one can see that the 26 year old has perfected the craft that merges psychedelic wizardry into true rock and roll, but Cohen also proves to be equally adept at getting his twang on with the pedal steel guitar. Cohen cites the unjustifiably overlooked country slide guitar legend Speedy West as one of his first influences for wanting the instrument as well as Sneaky Pete Kleinlow of the Flying Burrito Brothers, who he declares is "one bad motherfucker."
Apollo Sunshine by Greg Morris
Just by talking to these members of the band one cannot help but see where the jovial spunk in their music comes from. Even though I did conduct this interview on the phone, I couldn't help but notice the utter laid back and salt of the earth vibe in the voices of Cohen and Gallagher. Gallagher speaks in a tone as if he is sitting on top of the world without a worry in site, and Cohen talks like he is just one of those life-of-the-party people yet remains cool, calm, and vibrant all at once.