Record Review - 2 August 28 2002

In a striking moment of clarity, drug-addled logic and accomplished musicianship congeal on Golden’s fourth full-length release, Apollo Stars, bringing stability to the group’s ordinarily erratic sound. Like a ’70s TV show where Beck and Captain Beefheart pilot an airship through some secret musical universe, Apollo Stars lurches at first, but soon eases into a groovy ride.

The list of other bands with which Golden’s personnel are associated reads like a who’s who of indie-rock — current and former members of Six Finger Satellite, the Make Up, Trans Am, Royal Trux, Palace and Mars Volta, plus one Ph.D. in ethnomusicology make up the group. With so many influences, no wonder each Golden recording has sounded completely different. But where previous offerings clashed tension and driving rhythms with Van Halen-like guitar riffs and a demented sense of humor, Apollo Stars integrates its elements into one cohesive collection.

“Feel This Flow” explodes with the kind of retro-pop tones, neon guitar riffs and a Las Vegas-style demeanor that ties the entire recording together conceptually. But Apollo Stars shines brightest not through its eclectic goofiness but rather, once the showmanship wanes. “Henry Earl Ansell” and “Nikki” reveal a more tranquil, less contrived side of the group. Without interrupting the flow of the music, these songs serve as a reality check, offering up a moral to Golden’s latest episode.

Golden plays The Earl Thurs., Aug. 29.