APE! - 1991 [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)


1991 [12-inch] (2012)

Transient Housing

On their second full-length LP, Philadelphia's self-aware grunge aficionados APE! have doubled-down on their particular brand of pleasantly heavy, psychedelic stoner rock. Carried upon the backs of a walloping rhythm section, this seeming trio out-of-time has stumbled upon the fountain of sound that Dinosaur Jr. keep using to fill up their buckets of cred.

The opening track, "1991," is the lone instrumental, a layered highlight reel for phased and filtered wah-soloing, but it sets a theme for what's to come: eight tracks of visceral yelping (in the style of the Meat Puppets and Mudhoney), occasional crooning and digressions into the lost art of pedal-modified guitar noodling. One quickly realizes, however, that the true speed of the band is found in the thrashy pair of the next two tracks, "Summer Rambo" and "Social Punishment Theory," and perfected in the air-drum inducing "Vile English."

"Foghat Continued" is exactly what it purports to be–or rather, Foghat as covered by Queens of the Stone Age–and is still a surprisingly refreshing boogie-rock interlude (faithful even to the '70s-era backing vocals singing "Lolita"). This is also the first legitimate stab at inside-voice singing the band has ever taken, but whatever winking irony they wrapped themselves in to take a crack at it pays off later on a pair of side two tracks.

Just as you expect the album to peter out into a series of psychedelic, distorted drones following "Noisy Beast," the wonderfully rich and clear-as-day vocals of "Kindness Equals Weakness" kick in. Definitely one of the album's best tracks, this mid-tempo ballad opens with another phased-out guitar solo, reminiscent of Ween's "A Tear for Eddie," but morphs into 90 seconds of barn-torching setup for the finale, "Mountain Man Victory Song," a charmingly apocalyptic tune.

APE! have recorded a real rock and roll album in the most base, pleasing sense of the phrase. While they're not as riffy as Kyuss, or melodic and lyrically crafty as Dinosaur Jr., they've matured from their first record, The Dirger, and delivered a fun, boogie-thrashing set. If this trajectory holds, there's more throwback goodness to come.