Appletop – Brave Mountains
Hailing from the town of Hyères in the sunny Côte d’Azur, Appletop are French on their passports but emphatically American in their musical leanings, trading in the same brand of fuzzy, winsome alt-rock perfected by icons from Malkmus to Mascis. Similarities to the former are particularly obvious, with Twenty Five, Johnny’s Theme and Madonna in Love all très Pavement; a familiarity that on the one hand enhances their easy appeal, but on the other leaves the trio with a tough task asserting their own character.
In the end, the combined strength of their hooks and convictions comfortably pulls them through, with opener Headstrong finding them at their most effortlessly engaging, Nebraska piling on crunchy guitars to bristling effect, and Nikolai providing a quiet counterweight to the more pogo-friendly tempos deployed elsewhere. You might have heard it all before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to hear it all again. [Chris Buckle]