Robert Schneider has spent the better part of the past decade as the public face of Elephant 6, the loose knit, Athens-based musical collective that spawned such groups as Neutral Milk Hotel, The Olivia Tremor Control and Schneider’s own outfit, The Apples In Stereo.
Like those other groups, the Apples cultivated a shambolic psychedelic pop aesthetic early on, but over the course of nearly two decades, the edges and fuzz were systematically smoothed off. Their last few full-lengths were shiny, sleek studio creations; they felt good but were missing the burbling acidic tinges that made discs like Science Faire and Fun Trick Noisemaker such shaky masterpieces.
Perhaps in response to this move towards the glossy or just a reminder to the world that the old dog still has some bite, Schneider has brought out this groovy mod fuck explosion of an album, recorded with his new outfit Thee American Revolution.
The 10 raw psych garage songs here are purposefully messy, recorded live-to-tape and spattered with sloppy edits, bits of studio chatter and lots of ambient noise. It has the feel of a cassette demo wrapped in a roughly photocopied bit of construction paper on which is printed the band’s name and nothing else.
This cobbled-together feel doesn’t often extend to the group’s performance here. Schneider and co. are seasoned players who know how to ably recreate the feel of a mid-’60s, Nuggets-style 45. The bass tones are fat and round, the guitar solos are just showy enough but filled with spatters of color and Schneider’s vocals as forceful and sweet. Add in a healthy smattering of handclaps and Mellotrons and you end up with as near-perfect a batch of mid-’60s drug fueled teenage energy as you’re likely to get from a bunch of nearly 40-year-old dudes in 2009.
Download: “Power House” (mp3)