Bad Astronaut | Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment (Fat Wreck Chords)

cd_astronautThe resulting effort from Bad Astronaut is a solid album of straight-rocking tunes that get through to the listener with their honest approach.





In the linear notes of Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment, Bad Astronaut band member Jon Cox is listed as doing "loops and stuff." I couldn't think of anything more perfect to describe Bad Astronaut. They're the type of band who will use loops and programming, but they'll call it "stuff." It's like that guy you knew in high school who really liked art and poetry, but was afraid to admit to his jock buddies, so he covered it up by calling it art and stuff.

They fit in with the bar band rock genre but still seem able to pull off the use of "loops and stuff" and the "weird sounds" via Todd Capps, who also plays keyboards.

On March 30, 2005, Derrick Plourde, drummer for Bad Astronaut, Lagwagon, RKL, Mad Caddies, and the Ataris, shot and killed himself. His unfortunate passing was mourned by friends and family as a great loss. His bandmates in Bad Astronaut, who were recording an album with Plourde at the time, decided that they needed to finish the album.

"I knew this record had potential," singer Joey Cape wrote on the band's Web site. "And when I recovered from the shock that followed Derrick's suicide, I knew what I had to do. I had to finish the record for him. I had to pick up the pieces, sort through them and make our last collaboration worthy of his greatness."

The resulting effort from Bad Astronaut is a solid album of straight-rocking tunes that get through to the listener with their honest approach. Cape sounds like Everclear's Art Alexakis with a little more of a bar band pedigree on a few songs. Bad Astronaut has a bar-band approach that is filtered into a well-produced studio album. It's not the sloppy, drunkenness associated with the bar band label; rather, I'm referring to the band's honest approach. The record isn't pretentious. These guys aren't out to make an album of post-modern symbolism regarding the state of their subconscious desires to really be women. They're out to make an album of good music.

The disc's first single, "Autocare," is a rocking song with driving guitars that straddle line between acceptable rocking and cheesy, radio-friendliness of bands like Switchfoot. Most of the album follows the same basic idea of keeping the guitars heavy enough to drive the song but not enough to push the song anywhere extreme.

I'm guessing that their sound comes off a lot better live without being filtered down for the nice neat package of a studio album. I want the guitars to make my eardrums hurt and feel the drums and bass pounding on my chest. A lot of that is lost in the process of making a professional studio album. I would rather hear them play some sloppy songs and live up to the rambunctious and freewheeling moniker of bar band. | Kevin Huelsmann

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