Articles tagged with Apollo Ghosts

There are no time machines

I always said he had great chops
It’s been more than six months since I last heard from Apollo Ghosts, which is a long time for this prolific trio. Well, the silence is over. The band just dropped a new EP, For What They Do, They Do, alongside a short story book.

Read my interview with frontman Adrian Teacher over at Exclaim!, and read about the EP in the Georgia Straight. Listen over at Bandcamp and order here.

Below, listen to the jangling and insanely catchy title track. Apollo Ghosts are back!

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These days with you

Happy about the thing on the left
I’ve been listening to a lot of Rose Melberg lately, so I’m thrilled that she has released an EP with Jay Arner (who performs solo and with Fine Mist). It’s got six songs from her most recent solo album, Homemade Ship, which have been reworked with electronic beats and an array of gorgeous synths.

Click below to hear the dreamy “Old Days,” which features a guest spot from Apollo Ghosts‘ Adrian Teacher. The whole EP is killer, so you should buy it from Bandcamp.

Head to Exclaim! to read more.

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Did any other man frig you?

Hip-hop, straight up
We are here and it’s now. This is a thing that’s actually happening. Vancouver jangle punks Apollo Ghosts have recorded an experimental hip-hop song using words taken from James Joyce’s personal (and extremely sexual) letters to his wife Nora.

The rhythm section lays down a steady groove while frontman Adrian Teacher makes his way through a series of paranoid and pornographic questions, found sound clips and string samples flickering in the background. At 5:56, it’s nearly twice the length of any other track that the band has previously released, and it culminates in an extended jam, with the instruments engulfed in a swirl of samples.

In other words: what the fuck? It’s the last thing you’d expect from Apollo Ghosts, but it’s great.

There are only 20 copies left of the magnificent Mount Benson, which are being sold for just $5 a pop over at MySpace.

MP3: “Dirty Letters to Nora”
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As long as I stayed clean

Best live band ever!
I’ve raved about Apollo Ghosts so many times that it’s getting kind of ridiculous. The Polaris-nominated jangle punks have a new cassette only EP coming out, Cedar Street, and it’s just as awesome as you’d expect. Head over to Exclaim! to read my article about the new release.

Here’s a cover of the Vaselines‘ “Molly’s Lips,” which appears on Cedar Street. It’s dirtier and fuzzier than anything Apollo Ghosts have done before, with tape-warbled vocals and shrieks of Velvet Underground-style guitar. So badass, and just 1:09 long!

MP3: “Molly’s Lips”
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I found your finger but without its ring

Literal band photo win
Over the past few weeks, Exclaim! has published two of my interviews with Apollo Ghosts: the first was a news story about the recently-released Mount Benson and the second was an album review with an accompanying Q&A.

I’ve already posted one track from the awesome Mount Benson. Here’s another, the shapeshifting “Witchcraft Lake,” which starts as jittery post-punk before transforming into thundering riff rock and finally wistful jangle pop in barely over two minutes. Its weird, fractured leads show why frontman Adrian Teacher is one of my favourite guitarists in the city.

The Polaris Music Prize is gearing up for its 2010 installment, and hopefully Apollo Ghosts will be getting their share of love from the jury (they’ve got my vote for sure). They’re on the cover of the May issue Discorder (which is where the photo on the left comes from), so hopefully this well-deserved attention is just the start of a big year for the band.

MP3: “Witchcraft Lake”
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Local shows, thrift store clothes

SOS: Shorts On Stage
There’s an inside joke among some of the writers at BeatRoute: I really, really love Apollo Ghosts. I guess that doesn’t sound like a very funny joke. You had to be there!

With the upcoming release of Apollo Ghosts sophomore LP, Mount Benson, my love of the Vancouver trio is reaching new heights. The album is packed with catchy jangle punk gems, none of which are catchier or janglier than the lead single, “Things You Go Through.” With its chiming guitar licks and pulsing rhythm section, it sounds pretty much like any song from R.E.M.’s I.R.S. catalogue played at ten BPMs faster. (WTF is with all the three-letter acronyms? LOL!) It’s the lyrics that make this song great, as frontman Adrian Teacher lists off adolescent memories about water fights, thrift stores and speeding tickets. Like most great pop songs, it all comes back to love, as he reflects, “Yeah, I remember the girl / Yeah, she remembers you too / You’ve gotta remember the things you go through.”

Mount Benson comes out on March 31. Last year’s Hastings Sunrise LP sold out completely, so be sure to buy one before they’re all gone. Seriously, this album fucking kills.

MP3: “Things You Go Through”
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An industry has failed us

Kickass but camera shy
It’s probably a good thing that Apollo Ghosts aren’t more famous, or else they would make all the other bands feel bad about themselves. They consistently put on some of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, which they achieve with a simple three-piece lineup and a no-frills approach that relies on nothing other than high energy and good songs.

Last year, they released an album plus and EP, and are currently gearing up for their second LP, Mount Benson, due out April 10. In the meantime, they have a released a split 7″ with fellow Vancouver outfit Role Mach.

Apollo Ghosts’ contribution to the single is “Library Card Amulet,” a shimmering rocker that’s equal parts fuzz and jangle. Bassist Jay Oliver eschews his usual instrument in favour of a guitar, something that gives the song a more textured sound that the band usually attempts. Wrapping up in a countrified breakdown, it’s one of the highlights in the band’s already-impressive studio output, and bodes well for next month’s Mount Benson.

I recently caught up with frontman Adrian Teacher, who shed some light on how “Library Card Amulet” came together.

CH: Where was the song recorded?
AT: This song was recorded at JC/DC Studios in Vancouver with Dave Carswell. I can’t remember if John was there or not, although I remember him commenting on the final mix. We recorded it in a couple of hours before our Shonen Knife show on October 25th. Instruments recorded live off the floor to tape, vocals overdubbed right after that.

CH: Why did you decide to go bass-less on this song?
AT: In the initial demo, I didn’t have bass on the song, I had two guitar parts. Jay and I used to play a lot of guitar together, so we thought it would be a fun change. We might do more of that in the future.

CH: Will this song appear on your upcoming Mount Benson LP?
AT: No, it was a special 7″ project for Geographing so it won’t appear on the Mount Benson LP, which will come out in April. Rather than talk about our upcoming record, I’d like to share a quote about the actual mountain (located in Nanaimo, BC), written by Frank W. Teague for Victoria’s Daily Colonist Sunday Magazine in 1913:

An Expedition up Mt. Benson.

By Frank W. Teague.

The traveller when approaching a town or city, the surroundings of which are familiar to him, is almost invariably able to tell his whereabouts long before he reaches the place by some distinguishing landmark that comes to view as he proceeds on his way, for every community more or less the world over, has its well known crag or peak or glacier, its shaggy forest or rocky headland, its shining lake or ever rolling river.

MP3: “Library Card Amulet”
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Santa’s gotta make it to town

Apollo Ghosts
Pro Tools, Schmo Tools. Apollo Ghosts‘ recording philosophy is simple: hit record and go. The group’s two previous releases—the full-length Hastings Sunrise and the EP Forgotten Triangle—both sound like they were laid down in a single take, and this spontaneous energy is their greatest strength. Witty lyrics and catchy hooks abound, and the imperfect recordings only add to the band’s quirky style.

The band’s latest recording is perhaps its goofiest yet: a cover of the Chuck Berry Christmas classic “Run Rudolph Run.” The band apes the 12-bar chug of classic rockabilly, with frontman Adrian Teacher firing off blues leads while the rhythm section provides a steadily chugging backdrop. His echoing vocals add to the retro, Sun Studios vibe of the track.

The song is part of Mental Beast‘s Eggnog Experience compilation, a free Christmas album that’s being released for free via the web series’ homepage. The entire thing will be available as a free download on December 17, but you can stream many of the tracks now. The album features an excellent selection of Vancouver-based indie bands, including Brasstronaut, Lightning Dust, No Gold and others.
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Shonen Knife @ the Biltmore Cabaret, 10/25/09

Shonen Knife @ Biltmore Cabaret, 10/25/09
Shonen Knife has a song called “Ramones Forever,” and that song alone tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the all-female pop-punk trio. On Sunday night at the Biltmore, the long-running Japanese band (now in its 19th year of existence) performed a set of bubblegum surf punk, with nearly every song sounding like a carbon copy of the Ramones. Take for example, the bouncy “Johnny Johnny Johnny,” which sounded near-identical to “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

None of this mattered, however, since the ladies of Shonen Knife were fucking adorable. “Banana Chips” featured a sugary chorus that consisted of the title repeated over and over, while “BBQ Party” was a ridiculous rocker with lyrics that mostly listed off types of food (something about squid, eggplant, sausages and marshmallows). In between songs, singer/guitarist Naoko Yamano regaled the crowd with charming banter in broken English, joking that she was so short that most of the audience couldn’t see her, but promising to jump a lot so that everyone could get a view.

Towards the end of the set, the trio began to venture into noisier territory, bashing out heavy, Sabbath-style riffs while Naoko posed with one arm raised above her head, Pete Townshend-style. It was simultaneously totally absurd and completely awesome, and I can say with absolute honesty that it was the first time I’ve ever thrown up the devil horns at a show.

Openers Apollo Ghosts put on an equally invigorating performance, racing through a too-short set of punkish college rock and gleefully slapdash jangle pop. Singer Adrian Teacher was a ball of nervous energy, scarcely waiting for one song to end before thanking the audience and counting in the next number. Behind him, Jay Oliver laid down his basslines stoically, while Amanda Panda was the smiley-est drummer I’ve encountered Kim Schifino (of Matt & Kim).

Much of the set was made up of new material, including a disco song about Bigfoot. But the band also dipped into its back catalogue with a series of cuts from Hastings Sunrise and the EP Forgotten Triangle. The highlight came during “Little Yokohama,” when professional wrestler the Divine Prophet performed a stage dive and was nearly dropped on his head. Occurring only a few minutes into the beginning of the performance, it was a moment of insanity that typified the night.
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More of the same from Apollo Ghosts

It’s only been six months since Apollo Ghosts released their debut, Hastings Sunrise, an album that still stands out as one of the year’s best albums. Forgotten Triangle comes hot on the heels of that release, offering more of what made Hastings Sunrise so likable. Like its predecessor, the EP was recorded live off the floor by the production duo JC/DC (the New Pornographers, Destroyer), and features an infectious mix of Ramones-inspired punk and ’80s college rock jangle.

Opening track “Palm of My Hand” begins quietly, but its jazzy, whispered verses bely the upbeat chorus, which is easily the catchiest thing the Vancouver trio has ever done (and that’s saying something). In its final minute, the song suddenly busts into a thundering coda with squalling guitar, wailing saxophone, and a euphoric refrain of “I want you in the palm of my hand.”

That song sets the unpredictable tone for the rest of the EP, which ranges from sweet and funny to raucous and abrasive without ever departing too from the group’s usual slacker-rock ethos. “Shaolin Barhop” tells the story of a motocross champion, Adrian Teacher’s soft vocals punctuated by fractured blasts of start-and-stop guitar. After this noisy offering, Apollo Ghosts strip things down for “I Won’t Support Your Love,” a gentle ukulele ballad with a whistling solo.

The highlight of the collection is “Shanghai Alley,” an R&B groove that gives bassist Jay Oliver to lay down one of the slinkiest basslines in recent memory. With airy girl-group harmonies, a piercing guitar solo, and sultry sax leads, it’s a remarkably convincing modern take on ’60s soul.

Closer “Scott, Painter” is the most straightforward rock song of the EP, poking fun of its titular character with the hilarious opening lyric “Disappointed with your sideburns / Shouldn’t have shaved them off / Now you look like your mother don’t you?” It would be tempting to describe the song as vintage Apollo Ghosts, except for the fact that the group’s entire recording history only spans half a year. With such a distinct style already established, Forgotten Triangle shows that Apollo Ghosts have plenty more offer.

The entire EP is currently streaming from the band’s MySpace. It’s also available from Catbird Records on CD (for $5) or as a digital download (for $3).
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