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Notes From The Underground

[whitespace] Astron
Welcome to the Astrodome: Astron's self-titled album
combines metal guitar riffs and bits of thrash.

Astron Works:
Astron's CD, Brookdale's open mic and a roundup of local venues--oh, my!

I'M SO ASHAMED that it took me so long to review Astron's self-titled CD that I'm permanently turning as red as Mr. Hasselhoff's swim trunks. It honestly was hidden underneath my copy of Rick Astley's Comeback, My Ass--I Never Left! picture disc. Danny and Ryan of Astron used to be in the Whistle Pigs, so I expected a funky metal recipe that has always been way too technical for my simple taste buds. But this unique release features lots of mean guitars, firm downbeats and divine choruses that more than satisfy anyone's appetite for rock.

The tenacious thrash ending on "Wasabi Eye" kicks Astron far away to the land of musical deities. The stinging, Tanner-like guitar magnificence on "Strings of Carbonage" from Danny and Charger hits the spot. "Solar Princess" is more radiant than any Chuck Woolery/Spanish fly-induced love connection. Charger's grainy Van Morrisonesque vocals on "Our Army" were like a claw to a chalkboard, but after being whacked accidentally in the head eight times by the same ultimate Frisbee the next day, I now love that song. The tricky "We're an antiestablishmentarianist army, words are our sharpest weapons against hypocrisy" rant has been stuck in the lump in my head all week.

Chris amputates a drumstick from the pheasant and whips out precious triplets that will soon make him this generation's chosen one. Do you remember being the kid who was always tapped on the head during "Duck, Duck, Goose"? Listen to Ryan's omnipotent bass lines, and you'll be catching up to and exacting your revenge on all those evil head tappers. Before I forget, the album's whole H.R. Geigeresque layout is as sweet as Forest Whitaker's Oscar-deserving role in Species.

Open Call

Brookdale Lodge is searching for performers of various talents for its Thursday open-mic nights. Sign-ups are at 8pm each Thursday, with the best act of the night receiving a cool $50. Winners are determined by the loudest audience response. The P.A. and amps are already provided--all you need to bring is your instruments. You can even have the blues/rock band the Con-X-ion back you up if you so desire. All genres of music are welcome, so it just might be time to unwrap that straight-edge country act you've been keeping under lock and key (George Strait-edge?). Bands seeking a weekend show at the Lodge should contact Jennifer (338-7633) to make sure she attends your performance.

Venue Happy

I haven't been up to UCSC's Pizza Junxion yet, but it supports live music even though rumor has it bands must deliver a set in 30 minutes or less. The Whole Earth has started doing its Friday happy hour shows again, and College Eight, Porter and Stevenson colleges have put together some neat midweek shows, too. Plus, don't forget about tuning into KZSC--it's had a couple of recent live broadcasts and is always scraping for demos. Saturn Cafe's recent Tuesday indie outbreaks are strides in a positive direction, too. Granted, the ratio of bands to venues still seems to be 75:1, but when you munch on those turkey giblets at KFC this Thanksgiving, there's still a lot be thankful for.

And so ends this week's sermon of the undergroundtarian church--you must now drink the complimentary Kool-Aid.
Matt Koumaras

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From the November 25-December 2, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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