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Eric Apoe — Some Kinda Good News
(Bandcamp Soundtrack Blvd no#, 2021, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-05-20

Some Kinda Good News Cover art

Eric Apoe is a singer and songwriter who’s been plying his craft for decades around the world, with a recorded history that goes back into the 90s. He’s got a pleasant, gravelly voice and a quirky sense of humor as well as eclectic taste in how to arrange his music. Many of his albums are credited to Apoe and his long-running band called They, but Some Kinda Good News is listed as a solo album. That being said, some of his associates from They contribute here, including Jim DeJoie, Alicia DeJoie, and Dennis Rea (all of whom are also members of Moraine) — They has always been a fluid entity. Numerous other singers and musicians also participate: John Olufs, Jon Esler, Tige DeCoster, Ray Duncan, Danny Godinez, Maor Wiesel, Aiko Shimada, Sarit Kleinman, Steve Peterson, Oren Sreebny, Brent Moyer, Marcus Duke, Damien Aitken, Hugh Sutton, Gregg Keplinger, Marc Smason, and Dan Kaplan, most of whom recorded their tracks themselves in locations around the world. Instrumentation varies widely from track to track, with some featuring minimal backing of just acoustic guitar or piano and others bringing in a full band augmented by woodwinds and strings. The title track starts off with one of the more rocking arrangements, a raggedy folk-rock tune with twangy lead guitar. “Laughing Seagull” continues the band-oriented sound, even adding some synths, though with (aside from Apoe himself) completely different personnel. With “Waltz of the Frogs” we get an intimate piece with acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin, viola, clarinet, and bass clarinet. “Red Eclipse” diverts into swamp-blues territory, while “Sayonara” is a beautiful piece with acoustic guitar, atmospheric electric, and multiple lovely vocal harmony parts from Aiko Shimada. Later, we get “Mental 15,” which blends the more rocking side with the strings and woodwinds, taking a riff a bit reminiscent of The Sonics’ classic “The Witch” and incorporating gypsy clarinet and violin. Other tracks delve into varying shades of Americana, sea chanty, and vaudeville. The stylistic variety keeps things interesting over the course of sixteen tracks on this long album, though the nearly twelve minutes of “The Alphabet Revolution,” which is the most experimental track, does drag a bit. Apoe’s spoken word is backed by Dennis Rea’s impressionistic guitar and Damien Aitken’s sax, and it would probably be a great piece at a shorter length. But that’s a small detraction on this album chock-full of excellent songwriting and creative arrangements. These human-scaled songs with their beautiful but imperfect performances are a welcome antidote to today’s artificially perfect music spewed out by production machines driven by hunger for money.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): James DeJoie, Dennis Rea, Eric Apoe, Aiko Shimada

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