Although embracing a sound which is suffering losses to the indie and electronic genres, The City Apples wield a début EP brandishing an alternative-rock sound, packed with energy, yet possessing a touch of misdirection. Alt-rock has lain hidden in recent times, existing abstractedly through bands like Kings of Leon and The Strokes.
Formerly known as Stone Motion, The City Apples has evolved into a somewhat typical four-piece, including a not-so-typical Violin player. Adding a stringed instrument worked a treat for The Frames, so why not for this Blanchardstown foursome? Bitter unfortunately, leaves the listener just that. Bitter. It is a slow, outdated attempt to produce a modern-day love song. It has a nineties feel to it, as if Alanis Morrissette left her chord book behind. An unnecessary guitar solo squeals at the songs’ end, rounding off an underwhelming track in an underwhelming way.
Things begin more positively on Inside Job with a more original sound, by inclusion of harmonies and Neil Doyle on violin. Singer James McCabe has suddenly transformed into something brilliant. He controls the song, like a truly skilled lead man. His voice (and christian name) reflects that of Starsailor front man James Walsh. While Pictures doesn’t quite match up to its predecessor, the vocal is again unquestionably strong. A far more contemporary guitar solo is found toward the tail end of the track and it concludes with firm robustness.
Midway through ‘The City Apples EP’, the mood is one of imbalance; a poor introduction weighed against a solid majority thus far. This imbalance continues, however, in an entirely different context with Trading Me Up. The song matches light and heavy – the essence of alt-rock, with a great sense of proficiency. This is how it’s supposed to be. There’s a great darkness which arises from McCabe’s voice in the final chorus and he hits those notes associated with Chris Cornell, and could probably do with hitting them more. Regrettably, a second lackluster song shrewdly disguised as a revelation turns up. Trees includes very little to get the foot-a-tapping but does nicely shift tempo at its end to achieve a heavier feel.
The City Apples début EP is guilty of carelessness in parts, but then again who wants careful rock bands!? Rocking out sometimes inherits slackness, and with wider eyes on the prize, these guys are sure to get under your skin and rock you from the stem to the core.