Nothing Matters

Apollo 9

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Nothing Matters Review

by Mark Deming

In Soren Davis's world, love hurts. As songwriter and vocalist with the band Apollo Nine, Davis conjures up a landscape of fractured romance, bitter self-loathing, and cheap beer-induced hangovers, all part and parcel of life in a going-nowhere college town in the Midwest. If that description makes Apollo Nine's music sound whiny and self-indulgent, well, it isn't; Davis's often excellent songs are fueled by hurt and venom, not self-pity, and if his gritty roar of a voice isn't exactly pretty, it's an instrument that gives his material a vivid personality and the sometimes uncomfortable ring of truth. (It also helps that second vocalist Whitney Jackson is on hand to soften the blow on songs like "Tonight" and "It Doesn't Matter.") Also, Davis was lucky enough to have a band who could play music every bit as powerful and challenging as his lyrics; both guitarist Aaron Vanderploeg and drummer Pat Bills boast the muscle and finesse of a heavyweight champion, and the violin (either Tracy Hankins or Christine Scheer, depending on which cut you cue up) gives the sound a rootsy twang not unlike the dry, dusty sound of the Geraldine Fibbers or American Music Club, but with a decidedly Midwestern accent that's all their own. Apollo Nine broke up before they could complete a follow-up to Nothing Matters, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a beautiful, harrowing document that confirms this band lacked little in the way of talent or vision; it's a record that deserves and demands to be heard.

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