Friday, May 10, 2013

Black Apples Peel Off From A Bushel

Black Apples
Last year, Los Angeles-based Black Apples peeled off more than 40 demos at Station House last year. That's about a bushel of music. But instead of releasing another album to follow up their self-released debut, the band hand-picked five to polish and put out an EP.

Overall, it's a pretty good mix with relatively few bangs and bruises. At the same time, Black Apples always leaves me with this feeling that they could be on everybody's radar if they just settled down long enough to unclench themselves.

As it stands, their new EP Tales And Truths never feels relaxed, but there are some tracks worth talking up. And as an upcoming artist pick, the Black Apples are well worth putting on the radar for their soulful and psychedelic presence.

Tales And Truths EP will give you what you came for. 

This is meant literally. Get What You Came For is easily the standout on the 5-track EP from the band that started in Los Angeles, migrated to Fort Collins, and then returned to Southern California.

The quartet is led by New York-born brothers Andrew (guitar, vocals) and Campbell (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) Scarborough and joined by Mason Rothschild (bass) and Jorge Balbi Castellano (drums). But the brothers are the center, having worked together as a band for the better of three years and much longer than that.

Last July, they even kicked up a Kickstarter campaign to finish what they hoped would be a second LP. Instead, the band cranked out a cool single called Cover Up. The B-side isn't bad either, but it does touch on why Black Apples teeter between success and surrender. They rock when they pick up the pace.

While Get What You Came For isn't necessarily a blistering rocker, it moves the band fully ahead so they don't get bogged down in the folksy doo-wop they sometimes gravitate toward. Along with Get What You Came For, check out Tales And Truths, which puts them at the edge of a too pouty pace.

Fortunately, Black Apples salvages the indie pop one-third of the way into the song when it picks up a bigger and better dynamic. It's a good tune (just not as good as the second track). In much the same way, the third track cuts it almost too close before becoming just spacey enough to save the song.

By Lions, Black Apples tries too hard. It slips into an indie pop beach song but not before making everyone wonder whether their choruses are too formulaic for their own good. Skip this track all together.

The last track on the EP ends on a good note. Although somber, Campbell Scarborough keeps his voice in check, keeping it lower and avoiding any stick. It might be mellow, but gives the album a nice smooth finish.

The Black Apples have more bite than the EP suggests.

Comparing the 5-track EP to their debut might even be fair, but giving it a listen adds a different kind of perspective into this band. Right from the second track, it's clear that the quartet was meant to be an indie rock outfit. Buffalo is a pretty amazing song, probably the best track that Black Apples ever produced.

Where The Wild Things Go, Arctic Cowboy, Diggin' Dirt, No, and Mutiny On are all cool tracks and styles that the band seems to be leaving by the wayside. Sure, the debut had some slower doowop drops too, but what made them more exciting was their contrast to the wildness. But more than that, it almost makes you wish the introduction happened two years ago.

Tales And Truths By Black Apples Bites 4.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Although the band feels better when they share their wild side, Tales And Truths still manages to have a couple of cool tracks that add some contrast to their existing material. As an up-and-coming artist pick, the Scarborough brothers and their bandmates are worth a listen. A little momentum might do it for them.

The self-released Tales and Truths by Black Apples is available on Amazon. You can also download some tracks from iTunes. You can find out about any upcoming shows on Facebook. Their final residency show at Harvard & Stone was held on April 30 in Hollywood.
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