The recent release of “Enjoy! The Black Apples” ushers in the age of surf rock and heavy distortion in Fort Collins [Temporarily!]. Completely different from their first recording, Black Apples EP, this CD introduces a new direction for the Black Apples that will hopefully take them to bigger and better things now that they have moved to Los Angeles. Ironic, because they end one of their songs, L.A. Mustache, with “I Don’t Want to Live in LA!” But here we are, watching what feels like our baby growing up and moving on both in body and sound.
The Black Apples arguably have taken the path down the rabbit hole and entered into the surf rock sound which was heavily influenced by post 90’s grunge bands like the Surfaris and the Ventures. Surf Rock has come to be recognized by its heavy distortion and almost aimless sound.
The Black Apples have welcomed this form with open arms focusing on that distorted guitar and echoing lyrics. Their CD is almost to the point of too much echo and distortion for my taste. We here at KCSU really enjoy the lyrics of songs like “Where the Wild Things Go” and “20 Years at Sea,” but the album felt like the lyrics were overshadowed by the catchy yet simple guitar and bass riffs.
In their song “20 Years at Sea,” the BA’s have beautiful, romantic lyrics, “Here we stand, without a plan, take my hand/if you go, I don’t mind, I won’t walk.” The songs are great stories, but unfortunately get lost in the fast pace of the song. Which could be intentional, but it is hard to know for sure when the vocals are so clear during the live shows.
Campbell, the drummer and lead singer, seems to have his microphone sitting a good distance away from him during the recording.
It is amazing that he is the drummer and singer (the circular breathing for both are extremely different) but he pulls it off with flying colors, so it is something to ponder over why the band chose to take the highlight away from this claim to fame. Even though the vocals are occasionally lost in the song, the guitar lines are extremely catchy.
They pull off that dare I say beach boys surfing style of strumming that are intoxicating, as well as the bass lines that offer a layer of emotion to the songs that only bands like the Velvet Underground or Talking Heads are able to achieve.
The Black Apples are first and foremost a live band. Their shows are amazing, full of the raw energy and the mutual feeding off the crowd. Maybe it is bias from going to so many shows, but the CD feels like it does not live up to the pure power derived from the Black Apples on stage.
However, it does offer all the fan favorite live songs finally on an album. It shows the strength of this band more as a cohesive unit than highlighting individual layers.
The distortion blends all the parts together. Overall, _ of the tracks are worth listening to, the rest are good for the radio and background noise at a swank party.
A party where there are less cocktail dresses and more boys in skinny jeans.
This review is not trying to be negative or overly critical of the Black Apples newest release, but the Black Apples have basically been KCSU’s and Fort Collins pride and joy for the last two years.
We have watched them grow as a band and become the biggest and best thing to come out of Fort Collins.
Maybe it is that we are jealous they are moving to L.A. without us, but whatever, we have watched the Black Apples become a strong and amazing sounding band, and KCSU hopes their energy is going to be well received in the surf rock capital of the world.
Local band preview by KCSU 90.5 FM.