Friday, May 6, 2011

Asteroid #4 - Hail To The Clear Figurines

A staple of the Philadelphia psych-rock scene for the last 15 years, Asteroid #4 has struggled to find its place in the worlds over-saturated music scene. Despite an ever changing cast of band members and styles, the group has continued to refine their sound into what they describe as a kaleidoscope of all things psych, kraut-rock, shoe-gaze and folk. The bands core group - vocalist/guitarist Scott Vitt, guitarist Eric Harris and drummer Adam Weaver - began releasing songs in the late 90s and have only improved with each subsequent album. Their sixth full-length, Hail To The Clear Figurines, continues the groups musical evolution and can easily be considered their most accomplished album to date.

Asteroid #4 have a timeless quality to their songs that borrow heavily from the past 50 years of music history, specifically 1990s British alt-rock and 1960s psych-rock. Their last album, These Flowers Of Ours, went overboard trying to earn their 'psychedelic' title with excessively long reverb filled frenzies and cryptic Eastern chanting. Great stuff if your rockin' the ganj, but not so great otherwise. Featuring shorter tracks and a simpler approach to song structure, Figurines has a cleaner 'radio friendly' sound that listeners should find easier to dive into.

The new album is full of fuzzy space-out guitar riffs and dreamy vocal melodies, basically everything we have come to expect from the self proclaimed "philly psychonauts." Figurines starts on a high note with the stomping beat of "Wicked Wire," easily one of the best tracks on the album with its jangly guitars, fuzzy bass and processed vocals. There are pockets of excellence all over the album, from the Byrds inspired "Got Nowhere To Go" to the country-tinged ramble of "The Unknown." My personal favorite is the reverb soaked last track "Ignition Slated for Eight," a perfect collection of hazy guitars and tranquil vocals. Guitarist Scott Vitt's voice has an eerie ability to instantly grab the listener and hold them in a near trance-like state.

They have been releasing albums and touring consistently since the 1990s without much commercial success. While they have a good fan base in the psych-rock underground, Asteroid #4 has yet to show up on most peoples radar. Hopefully these dedicated musicians will soon find the recognition they deserve.

For more on Asteroid #4 visit their Official Site - Myspace - Facebook.

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