The Elephant Six Collective was home to many of the best indie bands of the 90s. The most famous band to come out of Elephant Six is Of Montreal, but several of the other bands have achieved mainstream success. While The Apples in Stereo weren’t the most popular band in the collective, Elephant Six wouldn’t have amounted to much with them as leader/guitarist/lead vocalist Robert Schneider spearheaded the movement.
The Apples in Stereo formed in the early nineties. They’ve released seven studio albums and have has several personnel changes, though the string section of Schneider, guitarist John Hill, and bassist Eric Allen have been with the group for the majority of its existence. Powered by Schneider’s psychedelic licks and the duel electronic keyboards of Bill Doss and John Ferguson, The Apples in Stereo have a sound that effortlessly combines oldies and modern day electric pop.
The Apples in Stereo have maintained the relevance to the music industry by constantly reinventing their sound. I wanted to highlight my three personal favorite albums along with my favorite tracks from each album.
Fun Trick Noisemaker
Fun Trick Noisemaker is easily the best example of the Apples in Stereo’s raw sound. Keyboards weren’t completely incorporated into the bands sound yet, which gives the album a more “traditional indie” than their later albums. My favorite song on the album is Glowworm but there’s not a bad track on the album.
Fun Trick Noisemaker’s production value is a big reason why I like the album so much. The album was recorded mostly in the homes of friends of the band using fairly old equipment. The limitations of the recording equipment played a big factor in creating the album’s raw sound. You’ll notice a big difference between this album and the rest of their discography, but Fun Trick Noisemaker is a great place to start if you’re looking to get into The Apples in Stereo.
Essential Listening: Tidal Wave, Glowworm, Shine (In Your Mind), Show the World
New Magnetic Wonder
Twelve years into their career, New Magnetic Wonder shows how far The Apples in Stereo have progressed since their debut. Songs like Same Old Drag and Energy show just how far the band has progressed since their inception, but songs like Sun is Out and Can You Feel It are reminders that the band is still true to its roots.
Sunndal Song is one of my favorite songs on the album and easily my favorite song that drummer Hilarie Sidney sings. This would be Sidney’s final album as her divorce from singer Schneider would lead to her departure from the band. Her drumming and crisp, sweet vocal would certainly be missed.
Essential Listening: Same Old Drag, 7 Stars, Sunndal Song, Can You Feel It?
Travellers in Space and Time (no, I don’t keep spelling the word “travellers” wrong that’s how it’s spelt on the album), marks a significant step forward for the band at a time where many groups have either peaked or retired. Travellers saw The Apples grow to a six-piece band as Doss and Ferguson were added as full time members and John Dufilho was brought in to replace Sidney on drums. The result of the new additions was a strong emphasis on electronic sound.
Travellers is easily my favorite Apples in Stereo album. I saw the band for the first time during their tour in support of the album and I was really blown away by how great their live act was. Songs like Dance Floor, Hey Elevator, and Dream About the Future show the keyboards could be introduced without taking away from the string section, which has always been The Apples’ strongest attribute. If you’re looking to get into The Apples in Stereo, Travellers is a great place to start.
Essential Listening: Dance Floor, Told You Once, Dream About the Future, Hey Elevator
I didn’t cover the band’s full discography and the band has put out a lot more music than just the four albums I didn’t cover. Signal in the Sky was actually the song that got me hooked on them. That song was actually first heard in the kids TV show The Powerpuff Girls.
I’ll end this edition of The Essentials with a music video of The Apples in Stereo. Yes that’s Elijah Wood from Lord of the Rings. Yes that short little bald bearded man is the singer. He’s also a mathematician who invented his own music scale, weird right?