Sunday, March 21, 2010

Best-of '10:: Apollo Ghosts Mount Benson

For most music outlets, the last few days have been spent in the sweltering heat (or shockingly cold nights) braving lines and indigestion as a result of meal after meal of succulent BBQ in an effort to get into the buzz-iest of buzz shows. For the rest of us the grind goes on; as does the search for the next big thing. We are left without the memories, but also without post-SXSW hangovers and longing for ribs drenched in delicious sauce. Remarkably, with all the bands that migrated South, one of the best bands in Canada didn't make the trip so those searching for the next act to explode in Canada may have come up empty.

If I had to find a positive of not attending SXSW it would be that the last week has given me more time to fall in love with the new record from Vancouver's Apollo Ghost. The delightful three-piece has the potential to make bloggers swoon like a Zooey Deschanel collaboration. After achieving remarkable success (they sold out their original LP - Hastings Sunrise - and had it repressed by the terrific Catbirds Records) with nary a snippet of official press, Apollo Ghost has followed up with an equally impressive EP, a 7" and is now poised to convert the masses with the eclectic and energetic, Mount Benson.

From the opening moments of Wakesiah, the band grabs a hold on you with a kung fu grip. With a few strums of the guitar and a twinkling of keys, Adrian Teacher delivers a mysterious introduction of a man willing to scoure the globe in a clawfoot tub until he finds the love he lost. Remarkably, as odd as that concept seems, his writing style is one that makes the premise intriguing enough to keep you leaning closer to the speakers but never drifts into pretentious, art-y ideals that derails so many projects.

In fact, it's the joyous happy hooks - not the message - and styles the band reveals over the thirteen songs, none of which break the 3-minute barrier, that are the first thing you notice. Jangly guitar, infectious bass lines, transitions, hand percussion and spastics bursts (often in the same song like Coka-Cola, the charging Attaquez! Attaquez! Attaquez! and Witchcraft Lake) get you moving but tender moments of piano and admission are equally important to the flow of Mount Benson.

But as rewarding as the melodies and sing-along vocals are, it's not until you really settle into the narrative of Mount Benson that you are hit with the growing power of the record. Teacher, Amanda and Joy deliver fragmented bursts of love, nostalgia and pain, but never glorify the moment or let it linger beyond the fuzz of the chords that accompany it and as a result, never bog down the enjoyment of the listener with a force fed concept. No, Teacher penned tracks that hit with poignant observation and specific emotions and memories and then the band quickly moves on letting the past remain in the past.

What starts out as a search, ends with a goodbye. On the classic pop closer, Snow on Mount Benson, our protagonist finally reaches to the summit and bids adieu to all the love and pain he's held on to for years. The closure we are given is the perfect conclusion to the emotion and nostalgia that Apollo Ghost bombard us with over a near perfect 25-minute adventure. As the band shows, love, pain and hurt are just like November rain in Vancouver, local shows, drinking, growing up; just thing you go through. If you ask me, even if Mount Benson finds Teacher's character willing to finally throw all of those moments away, the record is something you will hold as close as those precious memories.

MP3:: Apollo Ghost - Samurai Chatter

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Posted at 8:25 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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