Arts Desk

The Playlist: Apples in Stereo

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The Apples in Stereo can surely be considered one of indie pop's greatest input-output contraptions. The band—born in Colorado in the early '90s, and a founding ensemble of the Athens, Ga., Elephant 6 collective—has spent a career sharpening the recognizable tropes and aberrant impulses of '60s sunshine pop and psychedelia. Some of the group's albums, like the ambitious and discursive Her Wallpaper Reverie, were unraveled and perfectly excessive, dotted with sound collages and sonic daydreams. Others have centered on tight, Brian Wilson-esque pop. On the group's latest, Travellers in Space and Time, the Apples seem to have emerged from psychedelia's heyday and entered its mid-'70s half-life, when the movement's ideas informed the radio-friendly studio concoctions of bands like Electric Light Orchestra—an era when there was nothing especially discordant about matching a chorus of vocoders to a full string section. It was a time when it was OK to decorate your album with what looked a Simon-shaped UFO painted by Bob Ross.

But it's also clear that a host of  ideas from wildly divergent places—many surprising—goes into every Apples in Stereo album—the latest, out next Tuesday, is no exception. We asked the band's longtime bassist, Eric Allen, to share some of his favorite songs and influences. Listen to what he picked—from Void to Chuck Brown to Bahamanian pop—-after the jump. The Apples in Stereo perform with Generationals at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Sunday.


The Beginning of the End | "Funky Nassau" This is a group that was out of the Bahamas. It was out on Atco records, which was distributed by Atlantic. It’s got some kind of island porn sound to it. I’m not sure why it was never a hit in the U.S. I’m sure people in Japan listen to it.

The Rolling Stones | "Jigsaw Puzzle"
The Stones' Beggars Banquet is one of my favorite albums—it’s one I come back to year after year. I probably could’ve picked any song on that album.

The Olivia Tremor Control | "Jumping Fences" This has always been one of my fave songs by them. Bill Doss, who wrote that song, is now in the Apples—he's an official member on this album. I had to put that in.

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Flying Burrito Brothers | "Mental Revenge" I like the Burritos a lot… [the song] is funny but it’s really mean. It's about someone who’s really suffered at the hands of a loved one or spouse. He's wishing them good fortune but actually wishing them bad things.

Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers | "Bustin' Loose" I grew up in Alexandria. Actually, John Hill, our Apples guitarist, we went to the same high school in Alexandria. Chuck Brown reminds me of junior high and on. "Bustin Loose" is one of those songs that pops out in my head from time to time.

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Lothar and the Hand People | "Sister Lonely" They’re a band they were signed to Capitol Records, I think around '66 '67. They started out as a jug band—they went to the University of Denver. They played locally, and when [the Lovin Spoonful] came through town and saw Lothar, they said, You guys gotta come to New York. ... Lothar is actually their theremin. They were really into early electronic music and circuit bending, and other times it sounds like weird loop music.

Orchestre Granville Desronvil | "Profound Admiration" (from the Alan Lomax in Haiti box set) It’s a 10-CD box set. I love that track, but there’s so many good tracks on it...it’s good as far as getting people to pay attention to Haiti.

Patrick Porter | "Wait for Another" Patrick Porter is an amazing singer-songwriter and writer. He’s written novels, he’s written works of poetry... he also plays every instrument on the record. This was put out by a label called Greyday. Either they did a shitty job or no job promoting it. He's a beautiful songwriter.

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Void | "Ignorant People"

The Faith/Void album changed my life in high school—that and all the Minor Threat stuff and the Flex Your Head compilation. I’d heard Black Flag, but man, the early D.C. hardcore, especially the Void half of that album, it blows me away. Like a Rolling Stones record. I was really young, I was 13-years-old, but it was so fast and tight. I wasn’t part of any scene; I was just a little kid living in Virginia. I don’t know, it was so fast and tight and real and visceral. To me that’s honest, that’s about as honest as you can get. It may not be a truth that people want to hear but it’s honest. Psychedelia is about exploring and looking for new truths in music, so musically there's not a lot of connection [to hardcore]—but spiritually there might be.

Sarah Vaughan | "Like Someone in Love"

I’m a big jazz fan so I felt I’d be remiss if I didn’t put something on here. Once again, it’s just a beautiful song. There’s a version of her in London singing it that's really good—and she has such a nice husky voice.

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