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|Future Appletree Celebrates One Year|
|Music - Feature Stories|
|Written by Jeff Ignatius|
|Tuesday, 25 November 2003 18:00|
After a year in operation, the Quad Cities-based Future Appletree label has an impressive résumé: four sparkling releases and a stable of reliable acts with an experimental-indie-pop flavor. It’s clear even at this early stage that there’s a distinct Future Appletree sound, which is evidenced by the new Soundtracks for Kisses, Trips, & Fits: A Future Appletree Compilation.
The CD, set to be released early next month, features a pair of tracks each from seven acts: The Marlboro Chorus, Tenki, Driver of the Year, The Vow, Roman Castles, Seth Knappen, and Chrash. Best of all, every cut but one (Tenki’s “Kiss of Millions”) is exclusive to this disc. Rather than being a sampler of stuff available elsewhere, Soundtracks is a love letter to loyal fans of the bands, as well as a fitting introduction to the fledging label.
Label compilations, generally, serve up bands’ leftovers – the songs that didn’t make the records – and therefore tend to leave listeners hungry. That’s not the case here, though, in part because three performers (The Vow, Roman Castles, and Chrash) have yet to release any records on Future Appletree. And the new songs from the other four acts are generally strong if not revelatory. While Soundtracks for Kisses, Trips, & Fits isn’t a record to cherish – it’s engaging, warm, and comfortable, but most of the songs are a tad too fussy and over-thought – it’s well-worth checking out whether you own all Future Appletree releases or just want a sense of what it’s all about.
Even though each of the Future Appletree bands is distinct from the others, the CD doesn’t feel fractured or disjointed. In fact, the high-pitched vocal styles are similar enough that some listeners might have difficulty telling when one act has given way to another on the album.
The Marlboro Chorus (who earlier this year released the full-length “Good Luck” ) kicks things off with “Empire!” and the track sounds a bit like a looser OK Go, while “Hell Is Where the Heart Is” has a more muscular feel than the rest of the Chorus’ work and stands as the sampler’s best track, with its kicked-up chorus.
Tenki adds “Oh, Devil!” to its just-released View of an Orbiting Man, and it’s driven by an infectious keyboard that’s later mimicked on a background horn, and the guitar builds until a horn squeals the song to its cacophonic close.
Driver of the Year offers a spare, slow funk with “Only Human” and follows it up with the compilation’s only unfortunate cut, the hard-rocking anthem “Kool Kats,” which is partly redeemed by its keyboards but otherwise sounds like a refugee from an ’80s hair-metal band, right down to the poseur power chords and affected vocals.
The Vow’s “Friends Will Touch” has a muffled, compressed sound – the track seems to be missing something on both the high and low ends – but works, with the instrumentation blending to a low buzz and the vocals hovering above. “Let That Be the Reason” has a fuller sound with a bigger bottom and is a leisurely jam that hints at the British Invasion.
With all this sugary pop, Roman Castles’ instrumentals are blessed breaks, with the insistent bluegrass-infected “West End Trilogy Pt. 1” and the delicate, deliberate solo-guitar piece “Untitled.”
Both of Seth Knappen’s tracks sound like David Bowie tributes, aural kaleidoscopes brimming with disparate sounds. While “No Vision” falls a bit flat – there’s too much going on, and it never gels – “It’s Good to Be Down” is a superior effort, with a solid chorus over an interesting sonic background.
The compilation closes with the collective Chrash’s funky “All Roads” and the joyous “I’m on Top.” That last track shows what’s missing on the rest of the compilation; it’s well-crafted but not as mannered as most of Soundtracks. In short, it’s infused with the love of simple pop, and that’s where Future Appletree has excelled.
Soundtracks for Kisses, Trips, & Fits: A Future Appletree Compilation will be available starting December 9 at the Borders store in Davenport and local Co-op stores. For more information on the label, visit (http://www.futureappletree.com).
The compilation will also be available on Friday, December 6, when RIBCO hosts a Future Appletree showcase featuring The Marlboro Chorus, Tenki, Driver of the Year, The Vow, and Chrash. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and cover is $5.
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