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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
All Astronauts
Navigation Songs
Lookalive Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Fred Mann is going to knock you out. That's not a threat. It's a promise. The former drummer for the late-90s post-punk band Squatweiler absolutely punishes his kit on All Astronauts' full-length debut, Navigation Songs. But it is not just his power or hand speed that impresses. Like any good boxer or comedian, Mann has a finely honed sense of timing that's akin to jazz stick work. It's what propels All Astronauts' chugging June Of '44-style rhythms through the stop-start rush hour traffic of the band's math-rock arrangements.

A study in restraint and fury, Navigation Songs is a four-car pileup of drums that explode on impact, bass lines that bounce like rubber, vocals that shout to be heard and vines of guitar dissonance that wind about like poison ivy. On "Hidden Agendas," guitarist Kemp Stroble rains down black sheets of distortion, then momentarily clears the skies to trade vocals with another Squatweiler alum, Haydee Thompson, just before the clouds burst again. The instrumental tracks "I Heard Somebody Bombed Somebody Somewhere" and "Coping In A Modern World" seem to lurch forward like a car with a dying alternator and then, suddenly, the songs spring to life and take off when there's a break in the odd time signature bottleneck. Haydee Thompson's vocals on "Curing The Remedy" will raise the hair on the back of your neck. Whereas Mann's drumming is intricate and involved on "I Heard Somebody Bombed Somebody Somewhere", when Thompson sings "Ouch I got hurt again/ ouch ouch got it cut good," on "Curing The Remedy," Mann gives in to his primal urges and pummels away.

On Navigation Songs, All Astronauts earn their merit badges for orienteering. Somehow they stay the course, despite being blown about by swirling guitar cyclones and straight-line rhythmic winds. And they don't lose their heads while all about them in society falls apart. All Astronauts write about "searching for a better way to break my fall" in "Hidden Agendas" and pen lines like "bridges will be built/ bridges will be burned/ bridges will be built again" to imply a hope that mankind's future is brighter than it appears, provided we look ahead and not get wrapped up in what has already happened.

President Bush wants the U.S. space program to go back to the moon, presumably to get some of that delicious green cheese he's heard so much about. Somehow I don't think All Astronauts is NASA material, and that's good news for the world of indie rock because theirs is a voice that needs to be heard right here on Earth.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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