Most of you probably know the Asteroids Galaxy Tour from their rather infectious appearance in a Heineken commercial last summer. Remember? “I wish I lived in the golden age! Livin’ it up on the Broadway stage!” Yep, that was them. Risking the possibility of ridicule, I admit that I have that song on my iPod. For the more attentive music fans out there, they already knew about the band from the use of their song “Around in the Bend” in an iPod commercial a few years ago. If you go and listen to the song, you will recognize it instantly. Regardless of which advertisement exposed you to the band, you could make the case that their most recent release, Out of Frequency, is their first record in the spotlight. I was anxious to give the band a listen and see if they had any use other than selling me beer.
Honestly, the album satisfies me first and foremost as a bit of an era mash up. If you’re a fan of the old large scale brass sounds of the rock bands of yore, then there really aren’t a whole lot of options available to you these days. Brass is one of the most tragically neglected parts of contemporary rock music and finding listenable brass in today’s songs (listenable– not you, Radiohead) is quite the rarity. So, you can imagine my thrill when I heard them laying down some serious brass throughout the album. The first three tracks are connected opus “Gold Rush Part 1” – “Dollars in the Night”- “Gold Rush Part 2” with a high energy bursting sound. They come in with a very uptempo overture then slow it down for a seriously sick slow jam before going out the way they came in. From a musical standpoint, the album is complete ecstasy for me. The sound is completely retro in so many ways. Never is this more the case than on the track “Heart Attack.” The initial beat is established by a vintage 60s organ establishing a somewhat psychedelic tone and keeps its high octane attitude throughout. The retro sound isn’t limited to any specific era, though. Never is this the case more than on the title track, where the band pulls out a medley of just about every instrument they can find. Over the course of the five minute roller coaster, we’re introduced to synthesizers, organs, lasers, and even a pan flute solo in the middle. They’ve definitely got the aural component down.
So what is holding me back on a resounding endorsement of Asteroids Galaxy Tour? Two words; Mette Lindberg. In case you don’t know, that’s the name of their pint sized punky Avril Lavigne doppleganger of a lead singer. It’s not that she’s bad, it’s that she has no business singing in this band. In no way does her voice sync up with the music. They have a smooth big band that is nearly ruined by her piercing dissonant singing. I don’t know if she has a name for her singing style but it’s just repulsive. She sounds like a spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum on every track. I have a hard time even hearing the lyrics because it all just sounds like, “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!” Maybe her in-your-face method could work in garage punk band, but it doesn’t work in a setting as soulful as this. I have no use for her female Johnny Rotten impressions.
Aside from the conflicting juxtaposition that the album presents, it also seems just a little over-expanded. The whole thing is fourteen tracks but could have easily been accomplished in about ten or so. Certain tracks, such as “Fantasy Friend Forever” and “Major,” just seem like throwaways that they could have done without. It would have only bolstered their incredibly catchy tracks, like “Suburban Space Invader” and “Theme From 45 Eugenia.” I don’t know which ads these songs will end up in, but whatever they’re selling, I’ll probably be buying.