From its first album in 2003, Apollo Sunshine has taken at least two forms: the melodic but muscular power-pop trio at its core and the sometimes spooky prog/psych collective it morphs into when an army of friends bearing horns, strings, keyboards and other instruments help construct the richly layered studio recordings.
The Boston-born group shatters even those parameters on its freshly released third album, the anagramically titled Shall Noise Upon. When this whirlwind collection — 16 songs in just 38 minutes — is loaded into iTunes, the genre column says “Unclassifiable,” and rightly so. Amid forays into Americana, electronica, Latin, funk and acoustic balladry, the only common threads are the clever writing and arranging, the Beatles-worthy vocal harmonies and a pervasive sense of fun and surprise.
“We feel like, when we make a record, it’s something completely separate from the live experience,” says drummer Jeremy Black.
But reverse-engineering the album tracks for a live show can be challenging, so it should be a treat to hear the three-piece incarnation of Apollo Sunshine try to pull it off Sunday at Birdy’s.
In an admirable effort to convey the essence of the recorded songs, vocalist-bassist-keyboardist Jesse Gallagher and guitarist-vocalist Sam Cohen pick up new instruments for nearly every song, bringing keyboards, pedal steel guitar, drums, samplers and even an electric autoharp into the mix. Somehow it works, Black claims.
“You’ve just got to focus on the vibe and groove,” he says. “It comes off way more raw, but I always feel like we’re able to be true to the songs.”
Indianapolis fans are fortunate to have this opportunity. The band canceled a string of shows in the South and Plains states earlier this month after receiving a last-minute invitation to open for the Dirty Pretty Things’ final U.K. tour.
“We had to cancel some shows here, but we really can’t turn down those opportunities,” Black says, noting that the schedule is a bit daunting.
“I might be dead by December,” he says. www.apollosunshine.com