Liquor and Poker Music

Okay, this rocks. It’s not nearly as spacey as the stupid album title and even stupider band name would lead you to expect—very restrained, actually, in the way of auditory special effects. There’s way more Motörhead than Hawkwind in these 14 songs. (You don’t even want to know how stupid the song titles are; okay: “Trapezium Procession,” a great song, once you get to know it.)

Getting to know it is the album’s only possible hurdle. Don’t try it hungover. It hurts.

Any other time you don’t mind having your heart-rate revved through your earhole should work just fine.

Apollo is, for the most part, heavy, fast, propulsive anachronistic guitar rock with analogs in the likes of Pink Floyd’s uncharacteristic “The Nile Song” and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” laced with equal parts Zeppelin and Kiss. What you want out of this sort of stuff is athletic drumming, a bass player with a deviated septum and a really tight guitar player who can play raw. All you want of the lyrics is that they not stand up and block your view. All that is here.

For someone, somewhere, this is their favorite band in the whole wide world, and this is the most exiting record they’ve ever heard. And someone wouldn’t even have to be stupid to think so. (Brad Tyer)

Nebula plays The Other Side Sunday, Dec. 3, at 10 PM. Artimus Pyledriver opens. $10.

Shapes and Sizes
Shapes and Sizes
Asthmatic Kitty Records

Shapes and Sizes is a goofy, expansive Canadian quartet providing melodic pop at one moment, nasally nerd noise the next, and usually both within each song. The result is a richly textured if not exactly fascinatingly schizophrenic debut that just screams for the addition of “comes in all…” before their name.

“Island’s Gone Bad” is one example. Opening with Rory Seydel’s straining croon, a plucky mandolin and some lazy hand-claps, it slowly builds to a drum break and then to the jarring showtuney vocals of Caila Thompson-Hannant singing, “I like eating fruit off of trees when I’m with you,” against a humorously twangy electric guitar. It’s a confusing moment, for sure—going from a typical folk-rock track to something from Little Shop of Horrors meets Carmen Miranda—but it works in that the band hugs this seesaw routine throughout the album like a baby with a doll. They’re not letting go, and that clutch becomes cute.

For all the tracks mishmashing switchery, however, it’s one of the few straightforward tunes that really jumps out. “Oh No, Oh Boy” gathers serious momentum behind a needling guitar riff and some restrained harmonies from Thompson-Hannant before culminating in Seydel belting out: “The rise and fall of everything I’ve ever known to be true/It happened right beside me/It happened right in front of me.”

With this band it’s never quite clear what’s happening, but that’s why you like ’em. (Skylar Browning)

Shapes and Sizes plays Friday, Dec. 1, at The Loft at 10 PM. Oblio Joes open. $5.

Odyssey Eternity’s Ride

Paul Mollica, Odyssey’s lyricist, has the good fortune to have his original songs backed up by some of Western Montana’s most seasoned musicians. Band members Lars Pointer (lead guitar), Chris Starratt (guitar and drums), Mark Price (bass), Brock Gnose (drums and keyboards) and Lynn Vanderburg (saxophone) work together to lay down a danceable groove while simultaneously appearing free to explore the outer reaches of their individual instruments. And each song on Eternity’s Ride presents a different context for experimentation with different sounds—for instance, Pointer’s guitar sounds a lot like Shakedown Street-era Jerry Garcia on “Fallen Away” and like Queen’s Brian May on “Movin’ Along.”

Mollica’s lyrics are youthful, trippy and never too bashful to tell the truth—perhaps to the point that the listener may worry that the author’s cliché-radar has been jammed. Vocally reminiscent of The Samples’ Sean Kelley at one extreme and off-kilter alt-pop icon Daniel Johnston at the other, Mollica delivers his words with curious and hazy sincerity.

Eternity’s Ride strikes a precarious balance between Mollica’s unrestrained lyrical tendencies and the band’s sophisticated instrumental presentation—a collaboration that ultimately hits more than it misses. (Caroline Keys)

The Be Good Tanyas
Hello Love

Ever since the universal praise that greeted their 2000 debut, Blue Horse, The Be Good Tanyas have been chasing in vain to match that album’s success. Hello Love doesn’t quite get there, but it’s close—and plenty good enough to remind listeners why they first fell in love with this distinctive and talented Vancouver-based folk trio.

The Tonyas’ initial charm was their impeccable harmonies (think Myshkin times three) and skillful songwriting. The former is still there—buttressed, as always, by Franzy Ford’s eerily beautiful, mumbled vocals—but the original material on Hello Love takes an unquestioned backseat to the creatively chosen covers. Neil Young’s “For the Turnstiles” still churns in this stripped-down acoustic version. Mississippi John Hurt’s “Nobody Cares for Me” features former bandmate Jolie Holland (whose latest solo release isn’t too shabby, either) and is a standout. And then there’s the not-so-hidden track—a drop-dead killer version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” that’s worth the purchase all by itself.

There are still moments where the trio’s low-key delivery devolves from sweet lullaby to intolerable bore—what ultimately sunk 2003’s Chinatown—but most of Hello Love rises to the best the Tanyas have to offer. (Skylar Browning)

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