US - Colorado - Full Moon 128 - 03/04/07
The Apples in Stereo
New Magnetic Wonder
Hooray, a new Apples album! The first one in five years, since their bubblegum-punky punchy Velocity of Sound, and their 6th album. New Magnetic Wonder, a joint release between Yep Rock and actor Elijah Woods' newly formed (this is the first release) record label, Simian Records, shows more of the Apples in Stereo (AiS) way of writing vintage style pop. Schneider for president?
My copy of New Magnetic Wonder is the double vinyl album, which includes bonus track "Atom Bomb" - a piece of nuclear pop. Anyway, the album blasts off with the superbly catchy "Can You Feel It?", a song co-written with Bill Doss (Olivia Tremor Control, Black Swan Network, The Sunshine Fix - he's now a full member of AiS). The song hooks you immediately, and the has got sugar-coated vocals and sparkling guitars. The song cycle goes on with the energetic "Skyway"
and the highly electric "Energy". It seems like AiS this time have dived more into 1970s when it comes to the style and sound of musical input/output. Especially "Same Old Drag" (and its 'follow-up', almost as a chapter two, "Joanie Don't U Worry"). Much more 70s instrumentation (boards, mellotron, vocoder) and arrangements.
ELO and The Cars are favourites of Robert. Hilarie Sidney's contributions, "Sunndal Song" and "Sunday Sounds", works well with Schneider's compositions. Especially the first one is a fresh and fine indie-rock song (in the vein of her band The High Water Marks) - and ode to Sunndal or Sunndalsøra, Norway? Or perhaps to her Norwegian husband (and High Water Marks play-friend), Per Ole.
The album is clocking in at close to 1 hour, and it contains 25 tracks. Of these are 12 just small pieces of intermission-like air-holes (called "Mellotron 1", "Mellotron 2", "Non-Pythagorean Composition 1", "Crimson", "Vocoder Ba Ba", etc.), or 'link tracks' as referred to by Robert Schneider. I said they were more into the 1970s, but they haven't totally left the 1960s, like the pop-sike song "Open Eyes" proves. And also the, uh, radiating "Radiation" has got one leg in the 60s. "Beautiful Machine" (with parts 1-4) is a total, head-on energy popper before cooling down. Catchy and chilling as (only) AiS can be. Great!
There are plenty of guests who have been contributing to this record. Bill Doss is mentioned. Among the others are: Will Cullen Hart and John Fernandes (Olivia Tremor Control, Black Swan Network, Circulatory System), Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel), Per Ole Bratset (The High Water Marks), John Ferguson (Von Hemmling, ulysses), to name a few. The recordings/mixing/mastering have taken place sort of 'on location' in various places and spaces: Lexington, Kentucky; Denver, Colorado; Brooklyn, New York; Athens, Georgia. Robert Schneider has produced New Magnetic Wonder himself, but it's co-produced with Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Sebadoh, Luna, Evan Dando, and more), and will hopefully bring pleasure to a lot more new listeners. Hopefully. Because this might be another personal best by The Apples in Stereo. It also seems like this album is the last with Hilarie on board? The new AiS line-up now includes Bill Doss, John Dufilho and John Ferguson, along with John Hill, Eric Allen and chief Robert Schneider. Or is that just the live outfit? Time will show.
Robert Schneider is highly productive. Since the last AiS album we've got records served by his side projects Ulysses
and Marbles. When will his project Orchestre Fantastique show magic? Schneider for president.
PS! See also our archive for Tone Soul Evolution and The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone.
Copyright © 2007 Håvard Oppøyen