Appletop – Brave Mountains.
Sometimes reviewing an album of a band you haven’t heard of before can be hard work, and a bit daunting… none of that with Appletop.
This French 3 piece formed in Hyères in 2008, Pierre Cristofari, Olivier Cancellieri and Nicolas Faou, released their debut album in France in 2010, but this is their first offering for the UK market.
On first quick listen through, Brave Mountains already felt like a comfortable pair of jeans – familiar and good! Anyone of a certain age will definitely feel links with the past and a sound reminiscent of bands like Teenage Fanclub, The Wedding Present, Dodgy and other tuneful, clever bands of that era that are sadly missing in the current music scene. This is indie, minus the floor gazing woe is me tendencies – it is just a well-produced, decent sounding and well put together album, that you will take off the shelf – if anyone does that anymore, or play on the mp3 player time and again. It is one that stays with you, and grows on you. It’s a definite driving cd for me.
Good melodies and a decent rhythm really carry you through the 10 tracks on offer. With the interesting slower track “Nikolai” showing a vocal proficiency and no fear of really paring production down to minimal backing. It’s a sign of great confidence in their skills and talents that Appletop feel they can present this kind of track. It is one of my highlights on the album –very relaxed and laid back, and accomplished in sound.
Pierre Cristofari has the kind of voice that really lends its self to being a real radio sing-a-long, or carrying a great festival performance. Bearing in mind he is singing in his second language, he carries it off beautifully, with the right level of inflection and emotion in his voice to make it meaningful without veering into overplaying it.
These tracks are the kind you will find yourself humming along a few days after hearing. It is the kind of album that has you checking the website for the tour dates!
The opening track “Headstrong” starts “it’s the same old story, told a hundred times” and whilst it might be the same old story, it certainly hasn’t lost in the re-telling. It is the kind of opening that makes you feel you’ve already heard it, but are more than happy to listen some more. Its good music, the kind that makes you want to dance along. It feels happy and upbeat, a great first track that gets you paying attention on what is on offer, with a great sing along chorus as well.
“Twenty Five” was the first single from the album – that has been 2 years in the making, and those 2 years of work have paid off to my mind. Brave Mountains is the kind of album that would grace any collection, and have something to add… maybe not something shiny and new – it doesn’t push the boundaries, but something proficient and very pleasing to listen to that will last the test of time the same way as some of the bands they have modelled their sound on have.
The years since forming in 2008 have been put to good use and the band sound very together, and polished.
“Nebraska” is very definitely the track I can see as an encore at the end of a gig, with “Burning Land” and “Somehow We Got Lucky” being up there as well as a great way to round the night off.
“New Again” shows a coarser, harder edge to Pierre’s vocals, but with the sweet melody the contrast really works well, taking something a little different to the overall sound.
The only downside for me – it is quite a short album, running at just over 31 minutes, I’d have liked to hear more! Not a criticism though, as many of the best indie albums, both back in the day and more recently, have run to about the same length.
Guitars sounding how they are meant to sound, an infectious beat, and good vocals, with decent songs – what more could you ask for? The big thing for me is – would I be happy to pay out for this? And the resounding answer from me is “Yes! I’ll be buying a copy when it comes out on 10th March”