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Apache Relay - The Apache Relay

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 4 / 5 / 2015

Apache Relay - The Apache Relay
Label: So Recordings
Format: CD


Classy but infectious Americana-influenced pop/rock on strings-dominated third album from Nashville-based six-piece, the Apache Relay

This is the third album from Nashville’s the Apache Relay, although it is seen as the second ‘real’ Apache Relay album as the debut was credited to vocalist/guitarist ‘Michael Ford Jr and the Apache Relay’. Somehow both previous albums have passed unnoticed to this set of ears which is a shame as, if this latest self-titled set of eleven originals is any indication of what has gone before, then a not totally original but compelling take of Americana-infused pop/rock is what this six-piece see as their musical vision and that’s never a bad thing. The album was produced by Kevin Augunas, and features string arrangements by Jimmie Haskell (Grass Roots, Blondie, Simon & Garfunkel…an endless list in fact) on some of the tracks. Lead single ‘Katie Queen of Tennessee’, which opens the album, is an infectious string-laden cut that is instantly appealing, with a chorus that is so addictive it’s difficult not to press replay immediately the song finishes; it is obviously the right choice to introduce listeners to the Apache Relay. The vocals and even the strings lend a dreamy atmosphere to the song, and give indication that here is a band that while not trying too hard to hide their influences have enough vision of their own to make their mark. While the strings play an important part in the overall sound the song is strong enough to withstand a more basic musical setting, possibly when played live. There’s a sound floating along there somewhere. It is difficult to say if it is some kind of instrument or an actual wordless vocal as it is buried quite deep in the mix (almost sure now, after many plays, that it’s a vocal) which adds a haunting almost Joe Meek vibe to the song. There is also a cinematic feel to the whole track, something that is also apparent on the following ‘Ruby’, how much of this is down to Haskell’s involvement in some of the songs (Haskell has been involved in many soundtracks) is uncertain, but one feels that the band maybe chose him to highlight that aspect of their music. Whoever is responsible for the widescreen atmosphere that dominates many of the songs here, be it band, producer or arranger should be congratulated; it works well with the songs the band have chosen for this album. ‘Terrible Feeling’ again induces a dream-like atmosphere, those haunting background voices appearing once more, and with Ford Jr’s vocals pulling the listener into the song it makes for an arresting three minutes. ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ is shorn of any cinematic embellishments but none the worse for that. It is a fine, solid cut of pop-rock, melodic and executed perfectly, the type of song that will go down a storm live. ‘Good as Gold’ sees the band expand their sound; there are glimpses of the Triffids here, the way that band created space within their songs is replicated here, The Apache Relay have more of a pop leaning than the Triffids but they are not a million miles apart musically on songs like this. ‘Forest for the Trees’ also has that haunted, troubled sound and once again proves that the Apache Relay are not simply recycling the same song over and over again. It would not have been too difficult for the band to produce a dozen songs like ‘Dose’; radio friendly tracks that are immediately attractive yet subtly hide a deeper understanding of what makes music so special. The fact that the band are wiling to experiment with their basic sound and add strings but not in a syrupy way like you’d expect from a Nashville-based band, speaks volumes for what they are trying to achieve. There have been many albums released this year that have exceeded expectations and those from bands just discovered have generally been above average. The Apache Relay have certainly made a good case for their music over these eleven songs. They take in pop, rock and folk shake it up with string arrangements that were totally unexpected, and which take their music to levels others can only dream about and in doing so create a sound all of their own. The Apache Relay have made one of the classiest, solid sets of songs released so far this year and one that straddles many genres. If you’re looking for something a little different that’s not too challenging to while away the coming summer months, then try The Apache Relay, but be prepared, it’s addictive.

Track Listing:-
1 Katie Queen Of Tennessee
2 Ruby
3 Terrible Feeling
4 Don't Leave Me Now
5 Growing Pains
6 Good As Gold
7 Forest For The Trees
8 Dose
9 White Light
10 Valley Of The Fevers
11 Happiest Day Of Your Life

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