Like the best Pop heroes at their peak, there's a charming mysterious quality to Denver's The Apples in Stereo. Acclaimed as one of the best of the current super Pop practitioners, the group is the flagship band of the Elephant 6 Recording Co., a loose collective of like-minded purveyors of progressive Pop. Though experimental in structuring and conceptualizing, The Apples, at the core, are a dazzling Pop band, classic in every sense.
The group's latest is another puzzling little venture. Her Wallpaper Reverie is presented as a "concept EP" with most of its 15 tracks being brief musical interludes that cradle a set of fantastic songs about a shut-in (Ruby) and that sound like outtakes from Pop history's greatest artists. There is much derivation in the music of The Apples (like in most all of today's music) but main man Robert Schneider is at least taking inspiration from the best (Brian Wilson, The Beatles, etc.) and making it something wholly fulfilling. "The Shiney Sea" glides sublimely like a cross between Spacemen 3 and The Beach Boys, "Stawberryfire" is an irresistible slice of tuneful psychedelia and "Ruby" is a cheerful cabaret number that will bounce around in your consciousness for years.
These days, you will be hard-pressed to find Pop songs as immaculate, charming and well-written as the ones on this EP. Robert Schneider may have not been made for these times, but hearing Her Wallpaper Reverie will make you glad he was.
At Sudsy Malone's with Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann and locals Chalk.
It can rightfully be argued that if the members of The Melvins never existed, music would have missed out on the revolution that brought on such bands as Soundgarden and Nirvana. With a you-got-Punk-in-my-Metal mix, taking the incendiary nature of Hardcore and soaking it with the molasses-slow crawl hinted at by early Sabbath, The Melvins pitched in on a blueprint that became a worldwide sensation. They, like their Northwestern compadres, cashed in on the attention, signing to Atlantic for a few records. Of course, like, let's see, every other band to emerge from that era except for maybe two, the band parted ways with their major label sugar daddy. And they never seemed too concerned, the advantage of amassing a cultish and fervent hoard of fans.
Free from the shackles of big labeldom, the group is able to indulge in their most creative, fantastic or outrageous ideas, which the band has mounds of. There was their 1992 tribute to KISS, when each member recorded an individual solo album to be released simultaneously, just like their ghoulish idols. A '94 album, Prick, was the modern-day equivalent to Lou Reed's outlandishly experimental Metal Machine Music. And now, in this last year of the century, the band is back on the concept route.
The just-released The Maggot (Ipecac) is Part I of a trilogy the band will gradually be unleashing. The Maggot is another example of the band's fiery, artistically adventurous Metal, punishing and unforgiving, but also loaded with Prog Rock grandeur and droning repetition. Melvins Metal makes modern Metal sound like ABBA. The next two installments should be even more interesting. Next month comes The Bootlicker, described as "quiet" — not a word ever associated with the band — and is said to have a Pop edge (move over Britney!).
The third in the series is The Crybaby, with a cavalcade of deranged guest stars joining the band for what sounds like some kind of twisted variety show. Joining Beck, David Yow (of the late Jesus Lizard), Faith No More/Mr. Bungle weirdo Mike Patton and members of Tool, Skeleton Key and Pain Teens will be Hank Williams III, who is slated to cover one of his granddaddy's tunes, and the troubled '70s teen sensation Leif Garrett, who will sing a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a twisted synergy if there ever was one.
With Cosmic Psychos at Sudsy Malone's.