The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Michael Chamy, September 12, 2003, Music

The Golden Apples

(Golden Apple Music)

The Soft Set

Only Lovers Left Alive To quote the dearly departed Wesley Willis: Rock & roll will never die! In what is truly a never-ending cycle, two of Austin's newer rock disciples dust off the high school yearbooks and plunge into those definitive days of yore with the enthusiasm of a 16-year-old with a driver license. Formed from the ashes of several area groups, most notably Austin's beloved Texas Instruments, in which drummer Steve Chapman toiled after springing from the Eighties New Sincerity scene that begat Timbuk 3 and the True Believers, the Golden Apples revisit the turn of the Eighties. Their eponymous debut, recorded and buoyed by the guitar and organ work of Ron Flynt, best known from early Eighties pop sensations 20/20 (and now a local), is the fruit of the Apples' labor, bursting with snappy harmonies and sugar-spazz riffage. "Feel Again" is a leadoff home run, an unforgettable tune with a tagalong bassline that stands toe to toe with Guided by Voices' finest. "Kiss N Makeup" contains -- you guessed it -- a heavy dose of Simmons, Stanley, Frehley, and Criss, while the driving introspection of "Holding Pattern" and "Losing Definition" leave Cheap Trick's grade-school numbskullery in the dust. Meanwhile, Austin's Soft Set are none too dumb themselves, building on last year's debut with a crafty sophomore effort, Only Lovers Left Alive, guilty of the moody, articulate jangle-pop that thrived among disconnected Eighties youths. "Stop Talking," a Belle & Sebastian-style harmonica workout, bleeds into "The Spread," a twinkling excursion into Dean Wareham's Galaxie 500. "Maplewood Avenue" brings Swinging London to the Eastside with a jangly Smiths line and angst-filled lyrics about feeling out of place at a party. The Golden Apples have a Knack for timeless party music, but the Soft Set are best suited to shuffle deep into the night, easing the lonely comedown of a bad-news buzz.

(Both) ***

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.