Defying definition, psychedelic rock exists across a mind-bending spectrum of sound and interpretation. Born from the reconciliation of volume, effects, reverb, and joy, psych rock married post war optimism with misfit counterculture. Their children, a strange brew of electrified folk and barroom boogie-woogie, spawned countless manifestations. Each artist, each era, each scene added its innovation to stretch the genre. Hawkwind and Byrds, Velvets and Verve pushed an ever-evolving sound beyond a unifying theme. Thus, the A-4, restless, modern musicians, suffused in spans of harmonic action and reaction, push towards the future, capably plucking the choicest echoes from the past’s musical vineyard.
… the A-4, restless, modern musicians, suffused in spans of harmonic action and reaction, push towards the future, capably plucking the choicest echoes from the past’s musical vineyard.
Take the Asteroid No. 4, a band named for their heroes, the Spacemen 3. The A-4 broke from their East coast orbit for the psyched-out proving grounds of the San Francisco Bay. For over two decades, they dabbed and dabbled in shoegaze and space-jangle, creating a pastiche of modern dream pop. Time and tour-tested, dig the Asteroid No. 4 as they release their ninth long-play record: Northern Songs. Releasing on September 18, their ten-song LP is a Little Cloud Records (US) and Cardinal Fuzz (UK/EU) split release.
Fans of the Asteroid may simply put on their new vinyl, close their eyes, and play the entire album — moving only to flip sides of their cassette tape. They will not be disappointed, as Northern Songs is their best collection of songs since 2008’s “An Amazing Dream”. Impatient DJ’s may search for their “jump cuts” only to realize that the airwaves can handle every track. Still, several songs bubble to the center of the liquid light show:
Forceful and beautifully noisy, “Paint it Green” is the album’s top track, featuring a juddering, Fripp-tronicly induced, sustain/pitch effect.
“Hand Grenade” features heavy, atmospheric, wall-of-sound influenced blend of psych and shoegaze. The driving bass and effects will resonate with fans of A Place to Bury Strangers.
“Paint it Green” harnesses the Berlin-era teamwork of Eno and Bowie. Forceful and beautifully noisy, “Paint it Green” is the album’s top track, featuring a juddering, Fripp-tronicly induced sustain/pitch effect.
Byrds inspired “Northern Song”, is the aptly titled first single. “Northern Song” grooves into a buzzing, 12-Ric space jam.
The descending riff of hard drumming track six, “Juniper”, growls with phase-shifting tremolo. The track displays the A-4’s signature echo vocals to number among the album’s best.
Track nine and third single, “Swiss Mountain Myth” highlights humming, fuzzed-out shoegaze riffs and echoing harmonies. The lead drifts above the din, a shoegaze hallmark of psych brethren, Ride and Slowdive. “Swiss Mountain Myth” is vintage A-4, with a well-produced, wall of layered guitars and hard-driving drum-work.
Final track, “The Afterglow” concludes Northern Songs with the sonic expression of drifting somnolence. Deliciously dreamy, “Afterglow” parachutes the listener back to terra firma, ready for another spin.
In totality, Northern Songs is a great record. The Asteroid No. 4 will have you, once again, searching for that fringed suede coat, eagerly waiting for that next BBQ rave up. Northern Songs is your musical vaccine. The A-4 are ready to soothe our time’s aching discomfort. Impatient paisley-clad subterranean listeners prepare for the shot and the polls: records under arm, ready to join their rodeo sweethearts, new era realized. RIYL: Black Angels, Slowdive, Byrds, Rain Parade, Quarter After, Beachwood Sparks; Burrito Brothers, and Spacemen 3.