by A. L. Boulden
The Asteroid Shop‘s self titled album begins with an explosion of colorful and vibrant sound. Immediately the listener is humbled by the intense and sometimes eerie lyrics in “Destroyer”. The first two songs conclude with an epic and powerful chorus that many modern bands will envy. The album continues with five songs that, while obtaining the same quality and consistency of sound as the first songs, drag on without the huge sound that was introduced in the beginning. The last two songs resolve the conflicts created throughout the album by floating the listener atop a pedal steel, reminiscent of Pink Floyd‘s relaxing, “Breathe”. The album can be classified under the genre of Atmospheric Rock. Imagine a stripped down Explosions in the Sky, add lyrics, and you have The Asteroid Shop. However, limiting the Texas based band to the engineering of Erik Wofford, who produced Explosions in the Sky, does not do the band justice. They have a distinct quality that is consistent throughout the entire album. Instrumentally, thematically, and sonically however, the rest of album does not produce the same sound created by the first song.
Instrumentally, we can hear heavy reverb on the guitars, keyboards, and vocals that gives it that space rock sound. Disappointingly, there are no true harmonies in the album except for some multi-tracking on “Dandelion”. The drummer, Matthew Young, makes one inconsistent choice on the album that takes the listener by surprise. Young introduces the song “Ashes” with a slow, stiff blues beat that borders on a shuffle: an odd choice for an Atmospheric Rock album. The song continues with a pedal steel that takes the song in a direction unfitting of Konya’s beat. This self titled work is not only colored by the ever-present reverb, but by its artwork on the cover. It looks as if an asteroid came crashing through five different paint cans and the band claimed it as their own. Even though the artwork draws the listener further into the music, one can not judge an album by its cover.
Thematically, the lyrics describe a man being haunted by a great destroyer, some entity that has taken his friends and his soul. He says, “Distant friends caught by a destroyer/sometimes we shiver and shakedown in the night” The lyrics evoke paranoia and temptation, subjects that can bring all listeners together. By the last song “Sinner’s Life” however, it seems as if Brendo is merely hurt by a girl who left him, which is a bit confusing. Brendo sings, “Its been rough since you went away.” With all of the atmospheric sound it would only make sense for the band to talk about something more intense or abstract than a lover’s lament.
Sonically, none of the other songs on the album match up to the intensity or ambitiousness of the first two. That being said, the first two songs are not all that catchy in and of themselves. The songs just don’t have that hook and the listener is left with a lack of interest by the end of the second song. This deficiency can be traced to the lyrics and their consequent lack of crispness and clarity while being played over top of such an open, full sounding band. Surely you can figure out what the singer is saying, if your willing to replay the songs.
Besides the discrepancy between the sound and theme of the album, The Asteroid Shop’s first album is a solid piece of work. With some fine tuning the band could find themselves making some great songs.