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Apache Dropout - Bubblegum Graveyard

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Artist: Apache Dropout

Album: Bubblegum Graveyard

Label: Trouble in Mind

Review date: Oct. 3, 2012

On one of the more memorable moments of their first record, Apache Dropout asked “Why must I be a teenager?” channelling Dion, The Belmonts and the early 1960s in the process. The opening track of Bubblegum Graveyard, their follow-up and Trouble In Mind debut, is called “Archie’s Army,” and sees vocalist Sonny Blood pleading “Sugar / Sugar / How we need you now!” If Apache Dropout was questioning their dedication to youthful airheadedness before, Bubblegum Graveyard makes it clear from the get-go that they’ve since made it nothing less than a mission statement.

Apache Dropout have done a lot of touring since their first record came out (“I-80” serves as Bubblegum Graveyard’s requisite song about life on the road), and they’ve abandoned a lot of the fuzz and atonality from their debut in the service of establishing how locked-in they’ve become. On 1910 Fruitgum jingle “1-2-3 Red Light,” the drums are as simple as they could possibly be, with a steady 1-2 beat on the kick and snare. Bassist Anu Nath makes the most of it with a rolling bass line that gives Sonny Blood plenty of room to solo, and the result is a rare sort of stripped-down, elegant catchiness.

Comic books, candy, fleas, casual drug use, and crime are only some of the lyrical themes touched upon in Bubblegum Graveyard. The kids of Apache Dropout prove themselves eager to embrace the still-charming ’60s parental notion of catchy, innocuous rock ‘n’ roll as pure mind-rotting horror. Their debut was one of the best records of last year, and on Bubblegum Graveyard they continue their streak by referencing all the most worthwhile things rock music managed to accomplish in the ’60s.

Bubblegum Graveyard isn’t much more than pastiche, it’s true, but it’s really good pastiche. While lesser bands try to shore up their credibility by swinging their guitars around and unconvincingly using the word “boogie,” Apache Dropout have been have been crafting an album’s worth of songs that are equal parts Jonathan Richman and The Monks, taking weird drugs that you can’t even get anymore (one of Bubblegum Graveyard’s highlights is called “Quaaludes ‘68”), and never moving faster than a mid-tempo lurch. Bubblegum Graveyard is sophisticated when it needs to be sophisticated, funny when it wants to be funny, and its plodding beat lends itself perfectly to that excellent Osmonds guitar move where they bob their head upwards and tap their foot on each count.

By Joe Bernardi

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