Free and legal MP3: Pugwash (Beatlesque and XTC-like catchiness)

“Apples” – Pugwash

Here on 9/9/09, with big marketing news regarding both the Beatles and Apple Computer in the air, how can I resist a Beatlesque/XTC-like piece of pop entitled “Apples”? Resistance, clearly, is futile. I love in fact how the XTC-isms and Beatle-isms here are so consistently interdependent as to be inextricable. Because let me interrupt here to note that XTC remains, to this day, the great, largely unacknowledged link between the Fab Four and the entire alternative/indie rock explosion of the last two-plus decades; they were the one band that took what the Beatles did and alchemized it into something truly their own. I’ll go as far as to suggest that they gave us a hint of what the Beatles themselves might have come to sound like had they stayed together a bit longer.

And so: that cheery little ascending motif at the end of the first two verse lines (first heard at 0:12)? Nicely, intertwiningly related to both great British bands. Likewise the effortless weaving of guitar effects, string-like effects, and vocal effects in such a sharp and focused pop song. Note too how Irishman Thomas Walsh tends towards a Lennon-ish timbre but phrases his words in quite the Andy Partridge-like manner. (And isn’t Pugwash itself a sort of XTC-ish word?) The coda-like touches near the end–this song has a definite ending, it doesn’t just stop–is further evidence, if required, of both seminal influences.

And now it turns out that Pugwash–which pretty much is Walsh, plus some friends and guests who help him out when he records–has been signed to Partridge’s own Ape Records, which is why we’re hearing “Apples” now, although originally released in 2002. Ape is first releasing a compilation of the best songs from the band’s four existing albums. “Apples” is the lead track on that album, entitled Giddy, which will be out later this month.

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