Valby Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN - 26/4
Written by: PP on 23/11/2016 23:47:23
It's been a long time coming, but the sophomore album and sixth overall release "California Heart" by Bay Area punk rockers Great Apes sees them finally blossom into full bloom as songwriters. Their brand of Midwestern punk has always been enjoyable enough given its unpolished production and roared vocals Hot Water Music style, but their expression has always been missing the last tiny bit to push them into the big leagues within the genre. "California Heart" takes care of that through warmly resonating, buzzing songs where folksy, heartfelt vocals with roughened edges compete for space against vibrant melodies characterized by their raw, honesty-driven vibe. The songs are sufficiently indie-flavored to allow for the guitars to draw heavily on expanding melody lines, but given the Midwestern punk realm they are kept tightly in check to create the perfect high-energy setting for an upbeat, intimate soundscape.
Throw in some big chant-along melodies Red City Radio-style and charming vocals loaded with hooks and a sincerity-driven delivery, and you've got the whole package defined for a brilliant Midwestern punk record. Does that sound familiar? Sure enough, you'll recognize similarities to the likes of Signals Midwest, Timeshares, Western Settings, Typesetter et al bands located within an arm's length from Great Apes' sound, but despite decent records, none of those bands have come close to delivering a cult classic comparable to, say, "The Dangers Of Standing Still", or Latterman's "No Matter Where We Go...!". That's quite a statement regarding "California Heart", but the consistent nature of ridiculously catchy choruses delivered with the rowdy, yet charming Midwestern roar and the sheer amount of variety from laid-back balladesque tracks through raucous hardcore punk to mid-tempo romping suggests "California Heart" is one album that'll easily stand out from 2016.
And here's the thing. It's not like Great Apes are doing anything that hasn't been done before over and over again within this scene. It's just that they've perfected the skill of writing buzzing, warmth-driven punk rock down to an artform. From the infectiously catchy opener "California Heart" to the contemplative album closer "The Escapist", "California Heart" is a banger of a record that should find room near on or near top 10 charts come next month, given its friendly soundscape. If there's a perfect introductory record to Midwestern-sounding punk, this is it.
Download: California Heart, The Last Days Of Tranquility
For the fans of: Signals Midwest, Hot Water Music, Timeshares, Latterman, Western Settings, Typesetter, Red City Radio, Bangers
Release date 14.10.2016
Asian Man Records