- For Stars and Moon
by Keavin Wiggins
Five Star: A look at albums
that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very
few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally
a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry
and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock!
This series is a look at such albums.
The current state of the music biz isn’t
as dire as it appears on the surface, because there are a handful of artists
making meaningful music that color outside the lines and some of these
artists are actually finding mainstream success. Gary Jules, Mellodrone,
Ike Reilly, Knife in the Water, Pleasure Club, and Angie Aparo are all
artists that appear to make music for the sake of making music--they aren’t
out to cater to any expectations or be round pegs in round trendy holes.
Instead, they focus their hearts and minds on the music and as a result
they not only stand out from the crowd, they expose the crowd for the mediocre
pandering mass that they are.
Angie Aparo is of the rare breed of man
that appears to have been born a songwriter. He churns out potential hits
like its nobodies business and makes it appear so effortless. And while
his songs do have chart topping potential they are also credible expressions
of art. One of the best things about Aparo is his natural ability of weaving
cohesive melodies that strike a similar chord but also come from different
reference points. Don’t like that tune? Fast forward to the next and you’ll
get something different.
When Angie Aparo released his major label
debut album, “The American,” in 2000 he received critical acclaim, but
his label dropped the ball when it came to promoting the album. That is
an old story with Arista Records, a label that relies on the success of
what seems like one or two artists each decade and squander away the careers
of reputable artists that had the misfortune to sign to what ends up being
a musical graveyard. (sadly, Artista isn’t the only label with this problem.
Many used to joke that MCA stood for Music Cemetery of America).
Case in point, Arista promoted the hell
out of Adema but all but ignored Aparo. That blunder was highlighted when
Faith Hill took one of the songs from “The American” and not only made
it the title song of her 2002 album, but released it as a single where
it raced to the top of the charts and earned her a Grammy. And “Cry” was
probably one of the weakest tracks on “The American”.
Angie Aparo could go the route of Richard
Marx if he liked and churn out hit single after hit single for other artists,
and make a pile of money in the process. But if he did go that route, the
public would be robbed. Sure, his songs are well crafted and a testament
to strong songwriting skills, but the real magic comes when Aparo performs
the songs himself. Maybe it’s the conviction behind the performance, since
Angie knows the true reference point that inspired the songs. But the real
point is when it comes to talent in the performance area, few of the artists
that would cover his material would measure up to him. Then again, stars
that would appear mediocre get a chance to really shine behind one of Aparo’s
Fortunately, Angie hasn’t gone the way
of the hit maker; he instead is front and center delivering his music the
way it should be delivered--by him.
Aparo had a real challenge with “For Stars
and Moon”; because of the critical praise of “The American”, many would
expect him to fall victim to the sophomore curse. They need not worry;
he not only measures up to “the American” but surpasses it. Aparo also
took a bit of a gamble since “For Stars and Moon” explores a different
side of his musical personality than “The American”. The fans end up the
winners in the end with two distinct albums with their own identity.
Comparisons to other artists are inevitable
in music criticism. That was a tough job with “The American,” since Aparo
clearly stood out as a unique voice. While on “For Stars and Moon”, he
takes that further, he also touches upon other artists this time. Most
notably, the first few tracks ring in a similar vein to “Walls and Bridges”
era John Lennon with vocals closer to Dylan meets George Harrison.
The album opens up with a “in studio” communication
between Aparo and someone else and this helps set the mood as the album
then comes across with a live in the studio air.
“Hard Women” is short but indeed sweet,
where Aparo sounds like he channeled himself back to the late 60s / early
70s and sat in the studio with the likes of Dylan. He takes that eclectic
style and wraps it around a compelling and melodic vocal.
“She’s Alright By Me”, a melodious exploration
of highs and lows with a soaring chorus.
“Suicide” features a high register bluesy
vocal with a compelling chorus ripe with harmonies. It doesn’t have the
ready made hook but still has an addictive quality to it.
“Falling Leaves” has a real Beatles feel
in the sing/song verse similar to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” that segue into
a rich chorus.
“Broken” is a slower tempo number that
showcases Aparo’s natural vocals in a similar way to the music on “The
“Shine On” features a subtle orchestrated
build up that lives up to the song’s name.
“Love” strikes a resonate chord with a
late 60s vibe with an airy feel and layered lead guitar adding flavor.
This is a real headphone song for those that want to catch every nuance
of the music.
“Sweet Loretta” one of the most experimental
songs on the disc to this point that takes off in different directions
but blends together beautifully, lead by the “come on, come on, Sweet Loretta”
“Child You’re the Revolution” features
the patented Aparo understated verses that breakout into big choruses.
While not a ready made radio hit, this song fits in perfectly with the
overall mood of the album and has a nice added touch with a children’s
“Someday” is a sweet reflective tune where
Angie explores his vocal range, similar in temperament to Fleetwood Mac’s
“Oh Daddy”, but not as dark. It’s easy to see this song becoming a favorite
for many fans.
“So Bad” musically rings a little bit like
“Dark Side” era Pink Floyd jamming with John Lennon.
“Been Down So Long” the hidden track is
the perfect close of the CD. Starts out as a low-key blues lament that
builds up into a big chorus, only to drop you suddenly off a cliff back
to the slow lament. Like most Aparo lyrics and as you can tell from the
title, this is a reflective song.
Angie Aparo doesn’t rock you to your core
but asks if your ears have a brain. It’s music with integrity in an era
devoid of substance. Commercially appealing without selling out. Angie
Aparo once again gives us a collection of some damn good songs that deserve
Aparo - For Stars and Moon
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