From the outside looking in, you can’t help but wonder if Apollo Ghosts front man Adrian Teacher believes stagnancy is failure. In just over three years he’s delivered three stellar LPs, a slew of EPs and 7″s, collaborations and even a solo LP based on poetry from Karl Blau, all while holding down a full time job.
Remarkably, each of these recordings is distinct and isn’t connected by anything outside of inspiration. A quick listen to the band’s catalog offers the listener moments of DIY punk, indie rock and fragmented rough edge pop. More impressively, considering the considerable output, Adrian hasn’t recorded a bad note. Along with his friends and band mates Amanda Panda, Jay Oliver, and Jarrett K., Apollo Ghosts have quietly become one of Canada’s best bands.
The latest release, Landmark, is Apollo Ghosts most complete release to date and the most successful culmination of the band’s varied influences. Long time fans are rewarded with familiar jump off points (“Day of Glory” – a song that first made an appearance on the EP that accompanied Teacher’s short story book – is one of the LP highlights, “Violet Margaret” could have easily been written during the Hastings Sunrise sessions and sequences nicely into the Mount Benson worthy pace changer “So Much Better When You’re Gone”), but Landmark is not a rehash of sound, it’s a reinvention.
The band consciously left rough edges in tact, opting for grit and distortion instead of polish. The hooks are still there (“Newcastle” might be the most addictive song they’ve ever recorded, which admittedly, is like trying to pick a favorite goal from Messi or douchiest moment from Chad Kroeger), but the lo-fidelity and tight recording quarters gives the quick hitting songs a vitality that is new to the band’s recorded output. Those lucky enough to see the band live know that energy is always there on stage, and much like another Canadian band receiving the type of attention AG deserves, the new material aligns nicely with the daily grind instead of ideal conditions.
The band’s sonic adventure is fully explored in the LPs final three songs. The swirling conclusion to “I Followed the Rules and I Got Everything”, the chug of “Guitar Brother”, and emotional group vocals on “Will You Forget Me” wouldn’t have fit on any previous recording, but ultimately define this LP.
Hastings Sunrise and Mount Benson were personal affairs; Teacher offered up tales of youth, medical scares and being away from home but Landmark is a much fresher look into Teacher’s world. The songs (15!) are still about the search for home and growing up, but the most refreshing moments are when Adrian writes about what he and his friends are doing now and the joy of being a weekend band. In an era when you can’t go ten minutes without a musician complaining about having to work a job to pay the bills and asking for handouts, Teacher writes proudly of the rewards of being a full time employee and creating music on his downtime.
It’s incredibly hard for me to be objective when it comes to Apollo Ghosts. They are my favorite band in each and every way. Being a blogger allows me the freedom of hyperbole, but from a critical point of view the Vancouver four-piece earns that lofty distinction each and every day.
The band’s live show is one of the best, non Charles Bradley experiences on the planet and one I never tire of watching. Every release sounds fresh, exposes new influences and delivers on ever increasing expectations. Adrian’s lyrics are personal, powerful and encapsulate youth without ever drifting into rose-colored nostalgia. Landmark, for most bands would be just that. For Apollo Ghosts, it’s just another step in an unstoppable escalation towards greatness.