“The group merits far more widespread attention than it’s received thus far” says NPR’s Song of the Day about Brooklyn’s three piece indie group Apollo Run. With the release of Here Be Dragons Volume 1 in October 2010, their first EP in a series of three, these newcomers are prepared to prove them right, with an album boasting six songs that are both viscerally moving and musically varied. John McGrew, Graham Fisk, and Jeff Kerestes bring a musical aptitude and inherent fluency in music theory to every note, making for fantastic pop songs that are both smart and moving. The proof is in the pudding: an Apollo Run live show means a packed venue with a mixed crowd with one common denominator- everyone is frankly addicted to the band’s catchy yet complex songs, and they’re there to get their fix by singing along.
HBDV1 begins with Nightingale, introduced by a piano arpeggio played by John McGrew and soft hints of the unmistakable three-part vocal harmony arrangements that have become characteristic of the band’s compositions. Drummer Graham Fisk starts a driving groove that continues through the chorus, and just when you think you know what is coming next, the groove changes up to a reggae breakdown, with McGrew’s soaring “oh-oh-oh” vocals flying high, alternating between a light falsetto and powerful chest voice. The lack of guitar isn’t noticeable as Kerestes’ expert bass playing takes on the task. And they’re just getting started.
The album continues with ‘Love Song’, a guitar heavy pop dream, still graced by Fisk’s creative drumming as he hits the rims and employs stops to drive home the beat. The live show crowd-pleaser ‘Thats How it Felt’ follows, a bluesy song about love lost featuring a trumpet solo by McGrew. Just when you think you’ve heard every genre possible, the fourth track ‘Stars’ proves you wrong. ‘Stars’ starts as a lullaby, and halfway through grows to include an entire choir singing in harmony, making the song reminiscent of both Paul Simon’s Graceland and the entire Baroque period. The penultimate track, ‘Myography’, begins like a lost Queen song, but kicks into Apollo Run style, allowing Kerestes to highlight his talents with a bass solo that puts your ordinary guitar solo to shame. The album wraps up with ‘Wide Eyes’, McGrew singing “we are not alone”, and is he ever right about that. As momentum has picked up for this band, so has industry buzz.
New York City music manager Dave Sandford, who has worked with superstar acts such as Sting and Ben Folds, fell in love with Apollo Run and paired them up with David ‘Dibs’ Shackney, whose album credits include work with artists Blake Lewis, Cat Power, and Noel Gallagher. Together, Dibs and Apollo Run recorded HBDV1 in the hopes of expanding the band’s accessibility and bringing the incendiary sound of their live shows into the living rooms, offices, and car stereos of longtime loyal fans and recent converts alike.
Photo by Bryan Coppede