Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Landmark - Apollo Ghosts


Apollo Ghosts
You’ve Changed Records / Bandcamp

SCQ Rating: 90%

“What Are Your Influences?” opens almost in mid-riff, its guitar cutting through my speakers and running me down with Apollo Ghosts’ heightened sense of purpose, something that, for one reason or another, hadn’t been very clear on previous encounters. A goofy and raw performance in which Adrian Teacher wore a cape and took the most willing fans on an ‘exercise break’ into the streets outside the venue, 2010’s half-worthwhile Mount Benson; these collect my underwhelmed take on a band loaded with conviction but unsure how to effectively channel it.

In more than a handful of moments, Landmark still showcases the ramshackle, Pavement-adoring trio I watched tear through that sweaty opening slot two years ago, but that’s just to say that Apollo Ghosts still have their humour intact. On the whole, Landmark presents a ferocious change of pace and precision, reaching for (and attaining, no doubt) a diverse offering of smart indie-rock hooks with the authentic feel that champions most You’ve Changed Records releases. And while the band’s “influences” are indeed apparent – touching upon Sonic Youth (“Landmark”) and the Velvet Underground (“I’m In Love With the USA”), among others – they’re commandeered with a playfulness that has quickly become Apollo Ghosts’ calling card.

Landmark’s top highlights, which eventually distinguish themselves from a patchwork of rapid-fire punk-rock motifs, supersede any sway presented by those rock-and-roll titans. Take “Why Can’t I Be the Man On Stage?” which could arguably sound like a great many bands but also sounds explicitly like Apollo Ghosts honing into a ripe mix of 60s jangle and 80s, NYC dissonance. Same goes for “So Much Better When You’re Gone”, a break-up song coated in cloudy ambience, where Teacher’s lyrics and tone – both painfully direct and gentle – shapes it into an ideal song for peacefully pushing everyone away. When these songs are heard amid Landmark’s fluid, riff-based swampiness, it’s difficult to overstep what a massive achievement these thirty-four minutes represent; that, in seemingly no time at all, Apollo Ghosts have graduated to the forefront of Canada’s uncompromising independent scene.

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