Album Reviews

Golden Apples: Golden Apples

The Philly collective release their excellent new LP.

From the outside, Philadelphia has always struck me as having a similar vibe to Liverpool. Honest, hardworking, and not trying to be anything other than itself. By extension, much of the music produced from the city feels that way, too, which is why there’s always a sense of excitement around these parts when something new comes out of it.

Beginning as the solo project of Philly resident, Russell Edling (Kite Party, Lowercase Roses, Cave People and formerly of Cherry), Golden Apples saw Edling’s endeavours in solitude produce the albums Dumbness (2017) and Shadowland (2021).

Shortly after the release of Shadowland, Edling began writing more songs with the idea of expanding his sonic arsenal, and after drafting in a wide array of talent from the Philadelphian indie scene, Golden Apples is now a collaborative concern. A band. A proper band, too.

Edling is joined by guitarist/vocalist, Mimi Gallagher (Nona, Eight, Cave People), drummer Pat Conaboy (Kite Party, Sun Organ, Spirit of the Beehive), bassist Tim Jordan (Kite Party, Sun Organ, Lowercase Roses) and guitarist Matt Scheuermann (Lowercase Roses). After the band recorded at The Bunk studio with engineer, Matt Schimelfenig (Gladie, Sun Organ, Three Man Cannon), the end result is the third Golden Apples album.

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Golden Apples is filled with a combination of buzz-saw thrum and cosmic warmth. It’s one of those albums that has a communal vibe about, but not in a Merry Prankster hippified sort of way. There’s a modesty and locality attached to these songs, mainly through Edling’s honest approach to songwriting.

It begins with Good Times – a backyard sing-a-long that quickly scrambles into the second track, Grass. A fuzz-laden sprawl of sun-drenched folk-pop, Grass contains a swerving hook that packs an almighty punch; the first of many throughout this journey.

Golden Apples

Edling doesn’t mess about in revealing his adoration for ’90s American underground, with High School floating in the reverence of shoegaze with a dose of Polvo weirdness, as he sings “Oh depression, so impressionable”. It showcases Edling’s humorous side, and there’s more of it later with the punchy Bees (“Is this a safe place to waste my time?”), and the squelching noise of Beam (“Do you remember when we stood at the edge/ When traffic went/ The world was on fire”). Passages mixing beauty with existential crisis.

While Let Me Do My Thing sees Edling take centre stage in front of Gallagher’s tender “Ooos” and “Ahhs”, the same sunroof sway is dispensed during Across the Ocean – a track that is breeze-pop personified. And those hazy soundscapes continue during the seamless pop splendour of Secret Life – seemingly a lost hit you probably heard in your dreams 20 years ago.

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Then there’s the barnyard rumble of the awesomely titled Cosmic Candybar. The kind of song that you just know will shred on the strength of its name. Here Golden Apples give us there “cigarette lighters in the air” moment.

Which in something closing cut, Slime, is not. A tale of downer lament proportions, here we see inspiration from The Velvet Underground expelled onto tape. Those anxieties and self-loathing thoughts we all feel from time to time laid bare, and while perhaps a strange end to a record that contains a plethora of humorous snapshots (hell, this song could even be classed as that should one interpret it that way), it’s still a lovely end to the record.

With full band in tow, on Golden Apples Edling has developed a new range of songwriting, and while Philadelphia has spawned many great bands over the past decade, you can add another to the list with Golden Apples. Indie rock in 2022 probably doesn’t get as honest and majestic as this.

Golden Apples is out now via Lame-O Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.  

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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