Last Night: Apples in Stereo at the Culture Room

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Apples in Stereo

September 28, 2007

The Culture Room

Better Than: Eating a barrel of Count Chocula while in interstellar overdrive

The Review:

We dig The Culture Room, even if we’ve gotta drive about a million miles to get there. The joint’s dark, the sound’s swimming, and it’s run by a dame who’s about as cool a dame as ever swung the scene. In other words: The Culture Room is our kinda spot.

And a dynamite place to catch acts that normally wouldn’t set stage in South Florida. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Broken Social Scene, and Lily Allen have all showed there (as have a zillion others); Minus the Bear, Guster and Hot Hot Heat are on the immediate horizon.

But Friday night we had Apples in mind -- Apples in Stereo, who again proved to be one of the most unassumingly uplifting acts in indieland.

You know the history: AiS are part of the fabled collective known as Elephant 6, a grouping – and a label – which includes Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and The Olivia Tremor Control. Formed after lead voice Robert Schneider met a man named McIntyre on a bus in Denver, Apples (named from Pink Floyd’s “Apples and Oranges”) have been at it since the early Nineties. They’ve endured a slew of personnel changes, but maintained a single constant attention to making the best smart pop there is.

Make that smart pop built for the vintage space age, a fact illustrated in the silver suit donned by keysman Bill Doss, who’s about as zany fun as they come. Picture a tambourine-wielding Count Chocula colliding with a shot-out Flash Gordon and you’ll get the idea. It’s a whimsy that belies the triumphant joy inherent in the core of each and every one of Apples’ songs – trippy, quip-y, soaring and, above all, astir with a bright and shining smile, even when they spring about a broken heart.

Apples’ latest, New Magnetic Wonder, is just that, a wide-eyed and novel attraction, and onstage the band is adamant that the crowd succumbs to its kinetics. From the persistent “turn up your stereo” of “Can You Feel It?” to the insistent “it’s gonna be alright” of “Energy,” through the “Same Old Drag” that “you know we don’t need none of,” they rouse and they swoop and they align all the particles in the universe along one very united line.

The wonder is that Apples in Stereo still manages to sound right up to the minute, no easy feat when you’re employing mellotron, melodeon, and maracas. It’s a now sound, yet instantly nostalgic, and their fans, who just so happen to be bobbingly rabid about the boys, sang along as if they’d just discovered, well, something new and magnetic.

There’s something to be said about an act that is actually happy to be alive, and Apples in Stereo are a buncha happy cats. At Culture, their glow was infectious, and contagious, and awash with the kinda white light that brings only good things to life.

There can’t be anything bad about that. -- John Hood

Personal Bias: I’ve got a soft spot for cats familiar with heyday-era Jeff Lynne.

Random Detail: But for the sound and the spacesuit, Apples in Stereo would by nearly invisible – and indivisible.

By the Way: You can stream the whole of New Magnetic Wonder on their site.

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