Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Apples in Stereo

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Catchy melodies are pop music's constant. But with millions of them floating around, it takes something more for a band to rise to the top of the world's blurry pile of hooks. The best pure-pop artists have always leavened their tunefulness with some sort of quirk: addled masters like Brian Wilson, Alex Chilton, Scott Miller, and Martin Phillipps, for example, left personal stamps on their work with the Beach Boys, Big Star, Game Theory, and the Chills. Although their terrific debut album, Fun Trick Noisemaker (Spinart), certainly doesn't warrant placing the Apples in Stereo in the above company, the record's vibrant mix of killer hooks, endearing chaos, and punchy energy suggests they could be somewhere along that continuum. The sweet nasal croon of Robert Schneider glides through the band's wobbly, ingratiating melodies with frictionless ease, but it's the musical accompaniment that provides the inventive, effective tensions. Drummer Hilarie Sidney plays with manic enthusiasm that frequently threatens to disintegrate into pure anarchy, while the jacked-up jangle of Schneider and John Hill--they alternate on bass--provides fuzzed-out adrenaline rushes or glimmery arpeggios. The band's influences are only occasionally perceptible--Beatles, Big Star, and most strikingly, the lushness of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds; the instrumental "Innerspace" clearly suggests a stripped-down and more ragged take on Wilson's "Let's Go Away for a While." Known as a lurching blast live, they open for Epic Soundtracks and Great Danes. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.

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