For what seems like the longest time now, I had always seen the name The Asteroids Galaxy Tour floating around the web. One of those instances where I knew they were a “thing,” knew people enjoyed them enough, but had never really taken the time to listen to them myself. Not a bias thing by any means, but ignorance by way of my busy music tastes. So as I sat down with Out of Frequency for the first time, I literally had no what to expect.
And what was my gut reaction after hearing the Asteroids Galaxy Tour for the first time? It’s marketable. And if there’s one word you take from this review, let it be ‘marketing.’ And to be honest, I’m not sure if I mean that in an encouraging or a disparaging sense. The overblown jazz-pop hybrid, which the band seem to think they have perfected on their sophomore album, is really just a mix of different ideas, desperately clinging to melodies. What’s funny is that I always joke with people who ask what kind of music I listen to; I usually tell them I listen to car and beer commercial music, because in a lot of tangentially related ways, that’s basically what I like. But, in the case of Out of Frequency, that’s exactly what this album is: tailor made fluff for marketing and advertisers to salivate over.
But there are benefits to this lowest common denominator approach, an approach, whether intentional or not, rather prevalent on Out of Frequency. Bits and pieces are fun, but those moments are also achieved all too easily. Of course a cheerful saxophone and trumpet duo will put a smile on any listener’s face, and when used in relatively sparse detail, these elements are great. But, most of the time, they’re a sad backbone with a dozen other instruments layered behind lead singer Mette Lindberg’s crazy vocals. And lyrically, it isn’t exactly a triumph either. As Lindberg announces “you’ve got me head over heels on gasoline” during the chorus of “Heart Attack,” I couldn’t help but ask myself what the hell is going on. The words serve the same sort of base purpose that the music does, and maybe under the light of a disco ball and a room full of people it doesn’t matter, but when listening to the album as is, it’s rather disorienting. Again, on the second verse of “Major,” the line “you’re the best, you’re the most, you’re the toast of the barbary coast” is a pointless non-sequitur. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour seem desperate to capture the atmosphere of a whimsical circus, swinging back and forth between genres and anxious rhythms. Is it as transformative and exciting as they think it is though? Absolutely not.
It all feels like one big shtick. There wasn’t a single moment on Out of Frequency where I thought to myself that these musicians and this band seemed to care about anything they’re performing or writing about. I also understand that sometimes music can just be fun, and I think that’s the one thing that Asteroids Galaxy Tour succeeds at doing. But, unless you really enjoy music in commercials, you should avoid this disc.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
We talk with Israeli rockers Vaadat Charigim about some of their favorite records.
We talk with Yvonne Ambree and Jesse Barnes of Take Berlin about some of the records which influenced the recording of their debut EP, Lionize.
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