Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The Apples in Stereo 

Velocity of Sound (SpinART)

Wednesday, Oct 2 2002
Comments
Over the years, the Elephant 6 Collective has become a highly drop-able name among the indie rock intelligentsia. So drop-friendly, in fact, that the musical alliance showed up in last fall's Vanity Fair Rock Snob's Dictionary, described thusly: "Loose collection of interrelated neo-psychedelic bands with power-pop leanings, anchored by the Apples in Stereo and their leader, Robert Schneider. Apparent requirements for Elephant 6 membership are a retro-baroque band name (Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Dixie Blood Mustache, Ladybug Transistor), a willingness to share band members, and a grad-studentish indifference to personal appearance."

But despite the Apples' rather cultlike status, the group's members have never produced a particularly noteworthy album, including, sadly, their fourth full-length, Velocity of Sound.

In the past, the band has drawn criticism for its uncanny resemblance to orchestrally minded pop groups -- especially the Beatles and the Beach Boys. On Velocity, the quartet leaves much of its trippy vibe behind, favoring faster, fuzzier guitars that suggest the players have been spending quality time with their Ramones records.

The few standout tunes on Velocity don't recall the '60s at all. "Better Days" features a playful twang redolent of They Might Be Giants, while "Rainfall" exudes a pop energy that rivals the Go-Gos'. With lead vocals from drummer Hilarie Sidney, the latter number offers some of the only interesting lyrics on the LP: "Downtown is like a slot machine/ Shine neon signs and stoplights turn to green."

Of course, it wouldn't be a Schneider-touched work without some nods to '60s pop. "Where We Meet" combines crackly guitar riffs reminiscent of the Kinks, and the album's closer, "She's Telling Lies," is such a blatant Beach Boys rip-off you might as well go buy the real thing instead.

That similarity is the problem with much of the Apples' music. Though their sound is warmly familiar, the Apples lack the emotional tug and the innovative inspiration of their predecessors, making the group rather lackluster in comparison.

The Elephant 6 collective is admirable for its devotion to eclectic musicmaking, but Velocity of Sound suggests that Schneider and company draw far more interest for their affiliations than for actual musical merit. Perhaps the rock snobs have their noses in the air for all the wrong reasons.

About The Author

Nancy Einhart

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Star Wars Celebration @ Anaheim Convention Center
    Christopher Victorio brings back photos from a land not so far away of the Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center.
  • Fear FestEvil 2015
    Calibree Photography brings back photos from Fear FestEvil 2015 at Rockbar Theater in San Jose on Friday, April 11. Performances included freak shows, and bands: Ghoul, Orchid, and High On Fire.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular