May 25, 2004

Apollo Heights "Apollo Heights"

Sean Padilla goes to a LOT of shows. He sees so many bands live that if he were to write about every show he sees, he would have no time to write record reviews. He also takes pictures of EVERY band he sees, no matter what, and the man has TONS of pictures in his apartment. In his most recent set of pictures, I came upon several photographs of two black men on stage, one on a guitar and the other in various stages of rather SOULFUL singing. It was quite obvious this man was getting into his duties as a singer.

"Who's this," I asked.

"Oh, that's Apollo Heights. They're meh."

I've known Sean long enough to know that when he says that about a band, he's almost always correct. Still, I was enthralled by the photos of this band, becuase to me they looked more than just meh, so I decided to press th issue.

"What do they sound like?"

"They're a LOT like AR Kane, but with cheesier vocals and a more electronica-based sound."

Now, having been a HUGE AR Kane fan, such words only raised my curiosity, and I asked Sean if he had any of their records. He said he did, but he wasn't sure if he had them at his house, though after some searching through his massive CD collection I did find a copy of this record. He had been lukewarm about their music, and normally I would have let it go because I trust his opinion, but I simply felt I had to hear them myself.

I very rarely tell Sean he's wrong, but in the case of Apollo Heights, a rebuke was definitely in order. From the very first second of opening track "Winter In The Summertime," I was hooked. The brooding atmopshere indeed recalls the best moments of AR Kane, and lead singer Daniel Chavis's impeccable falsetto gives Apollo Heights an amazingly heavenly sound. After hearing the first few minutes of this EP, I informed Sean that he needed to rethink his opinion.

"Joseph, you HAVE to see these guys live. Their show is definitely better than the record, because Daniel doesn't rely on the falsetto for every song, because he can really sing well without it."

I have to agree with Sean on this point, because if Apollo Heights has a flaw, it's that their songs are too reliant on the falsetto singing. It's not that Chavis doesn't have the vocal strength to pull it off--he's got a really powerful voice--but sticking to one particular vocal style can weigh down a record with a monotonous sound. That would NOT be fair to Apollo Heights' obvious talent, because their music is AWESOME. When Chavis lets go of the falsetto on "Heather," you can easily see that he's capable of more than one style of singing.

Don't think, though, that the other three songs on this little record are lesser songs, because they're not. The only time the band really slips a bit is on "The Way I Feel About You," which is pretty much traditional R&B/pop, and though the song is excellent, it's definitely different from the rest of the record. All of these songs possess a beautiful, soulful style that's quite refreshing to hear. "Indie rock" needs more bands who are willing to bring a seriousm non-ironic R&B style into their music, and Apollo Heights might just be the band for such an undertaking. This little record is most definitely worth seeking out.

(And though I don't know if I completely changed his opinion, I think Sean thinks they're a little bit better than his previous assessment.)

--Joseph Kyle

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