Apes of the State - Pipe Dream (Cover Artwork)

Apes of the State

Pipe Dream (2019)


Apes of the State have been atop my list of favorite Folk Punk bands for quite some time, and it seems as though the Folk Punk community is following in my footsteps, as April and her gang seem to be on a straight ride to the top. A year ago, they were supporting some great bands on a few of the bigger stages in our scene, but it was announced earlier this year that they would headlining, alongside Folk Punk legends Days N Daze, Folk Shit Up 2020. With this meteoric rise, came 2019’s Pipe Dream, which was probably the best sophomore album to in this scene to date.

This City Isn’t Big Enough, the Apes first album, was full of angsty tunes led primarily by break-up tunes, songs about becoming sober, and their now classic “Bill Collectors Theme Song”, calling for everyone everywhere to just quit answering their phones, and giving a stiff F-U to every call center collector and their corporate leaders. While the album itself came together extremely well, it was clear that there was more beneath the surface that was waiting to burst out of April’s lyrical content. Pipe Dream brought with it all of those lyrics that the first album missed, alongside a maturity that often takes bands several albums to lock down.

This acoustic team keeps you guessing from song to song about what will be coming next, by stringing together some of their “poppier” tunes and April’s angelic voice, coupled with Max’s (a.k.a. Mary Wander) harmonies, with some more punk influenced tunes, complete with anger, not angst, which was one item I felt missing with their debut. Songs like “Better Off” and “Fun and Games” bring the speed of the more traditional punk bands, while still delivering Apes’ unique and insightful view of the world, the scene, and everything in between. Then you have tunes like “Piles” and “Tyrone” which are much closer to traditional folk/bluegrass tunes, the latter of which emotes, with its vocals and country guitar twang, the feelings preserved in old Hank/Willie/Dylan tunes, where times, although very different, were full of complications that the artists were trying to overcome.

The album concludes with what is easily my favorite tune. A nine plus minute contemplation of the artist’s uphill climb from obscurity to achievement, told through a confession from the singer to their, presumably, deceased mother. “Dear Mom” brings chills to your spine, as April sings about “dressing the same way since the fifth grade” and listening to “all of the same punk rock bands that I did back then”. April continues the confession, bringing in “Dear Dad” as well, as she essentially retales her entire history, including “making 20 bucks, just yesterday, on our bandcamp page”. It's clear that the band recognizes that making $20 will not pay the bills, but with the determination these guys have shown, that $20 in a day has become a full time job for most of its members. The emotions that surfaced as I first listened to this song clearly represented the struggle between wanting to follow your dreams, and taking the 9-5 path, something that I think we all struggle with at some point in our lives, and something that I clearly had buried long ago.

I cannot wait to see what comes next for these guys. April’s lyrics are improving with every song that I hear, and having the backing of a formidable band, perfect harmonies, and the support of the growing Folk Punk community, could only result in continued improvement, which means better and better tunes on the horizon. While I felt this album was near perfect, if these “Apes” continue to evolve, we are all in for some seriously amazing music in the coming years.