Please Refrain From Fronting

Happy Apple

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Please Refrain From Fronting Review

by Rick Anderson

Happy Apple's debut album was a masterpiece of contradictions, a blend of jazzy funk and rhythmic anarchy where attractive melodic lines rubbed shoulders with skronky mayhem. The band's saxophone-bass-drums lineup guarantees that its sound will be unique, if not downright abrasive, but what's continually surprising is how accessible this music is most of the time, and how well saxophonist Michael Lewis and bassist Erik Fratze manage to fill up the considerable amount of harmonic space available to them. The group's sophomore effort finds them committing much the same sort of good-humored musical anarchy as they did the first time out; song titles like "Who Is Your Midwest Representation?" and "Acknowledge the Ascot" give you a good idea of the mindset involved. On "You & Mattel vs. Me & Coleco," Lewis sets up the groove with a funky, minimalist horn line onto which Fratze jumps fearlessly, only to find that both of them are suddenly thrown to the ground by drummer David King's anarcho-funk assault; "November," on the other hand, starts off very slowly and quietly and stays slow and quiet for over five minutes, the sax playing a gentle, melancholy line while the bass fills in a chordal background and percussion pops up pointillistically all around. For all of its ironic goofiness, this is complex and challenging music that bears repeated listening.

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