Angelorum is the new album from James Apollo, released May 12th via Code 7/Marterry Music.
"I'm not angry" screams a raging Elvis Costello on the 1977 classic 'My Aim is True'. It is in fact the simplest way to put the sentiment behind Angelorum the third record from James Apollo. This is not the Apollo that MOJO heralded with "charming fragility" and Uncut called "intrinsically beautiful." This man does not want to make you sit down and cry. This man wants you on your feet. He wants you watching your back. He wants you moving.
"I got tired of pretty," says Apollo, "Pretty is a lonely man on a stool. Pretty is sad and stark. I wasn't sad. I was angry."
And not without reason. The initial sessions for the record Angelorum were lost in the fire that took Minneapolis's Underwood Studios, and the home of producer Mark Stockert. It was a harsh blow with even harsher timing. The band could not have been more excited about the material, or more devastated by its loss. But old friends and bandmates Noah Strom, Matt Palin and Ben Nordeen had been making music together since they were nine and were hard to put down.
The troupe licked their wounds and moved west to Tucker Martine's Flora Recorders in Portland, Oregon (Decembersts, My Morning Jacket, Neko Case). Apollo added a few members of his road band and hunkered down with producer Stockert, now homeless.
It was a troubled mood, but Apollo is no stranger to calamity. He began touring at the tender age of 16 and has endured a lifetime of shady club owners, small town cops and the wild swings of the world. In 2010 Apollo was living in Brooklyn and rehearsing between tours. While riding his motorcycle home one night, a truck hit him from the side, throwing him 30 feet down the pavement. The accident sent him off to a year of rehabilitation, physical therapy, titanium bones, and learning to walk again.
The incident sparked Apollo's move to the west coast where he met Damien Jurado, the indie hero and production genius behind his previous album Little War, Little Less. It was recorded in the nourishing womb of the legendary Bear Creek Studios in the mountains outside Seattle. Jurado showed Apollo a thing or two about arranging and doing more in the studio than replicating his raucous live show. He bestowed a newfound fascination with arrangement and collaboration in these sessions that led to the eccentric choices made in Angelorum.
"I surrounded the band with Martin Denny and Les Baxter records" recalls Apollo, "and a lot of that weird Indian style Rolling Stones stuff. It was all so far out that I knew we'd get something interesting just by picking it apart."
And they did. Angelorum is an exotic rock and roll record. Vibraphones and flutes dance intermittently with Apollo's raspy cry on the big-beated track 'White Lines'. And what could easily be a soft bossanova rallies to anthemic levels on the single 'Spinnin''. It's a big, bold, new sound for the artist, but Apollo is not all shout and swagger.
The record's title track, Angelorum was just a sign he saw painted on the side of a building in Mexico. I liked the sound of it. Later our piano player told me what it meant and I couldn't have been more elated." Of course Apollo does not mention what it means, he just liked the sound of it.
It's a lot of strange sentiment, and it fits. Angelorum is indicative of Apollo's distinctive talent, and with it's catharsis of fiery anthems and cool, cool delivery, James Apollo is not angry, anymore.
Apr 26 The Shakespeare Sheffield, United Kingdom
Apr 29 The Slaughtered Lamb London, United Kingdom
Apr 30 Cafe Tarifa Oxford, United Kingdom
May 01 Stag & Hounds Bristol, United Kingdom