Make your own free website on Tripod.com



 

REVIEWS

Astrid (supporting snow patrol) – Leicester 10th March 2004


To tell you the truth, there's really no justice in the world when a cracking band like Astrid are currently unsigned. They kick off the night with style and with a set full of catchy, well crafted and elegantly executed songs which grab the audience's attention.

"Trinity" taken from the band's new album is a great number, with a mellow intro building into some emotive guitar riffs and pure passion in Willie Campbell's vocals.He puts his heart and soul into his songs even though his startlingly shaved head reminds me of Dobby at times, Harry Potter's sidekick. Some good backing vocals too from the oh so cute Charlie.

"Talking makes no sense" is a triumph of a song, the best in the set for me, and confirms that like the Las, this is a band with a certain integrity. Willie 's got a nice line in patter, building a good raport with the audience and the final track "Something in my way" has a great beat and a feelgood factor which leaves us wanting more .No wonder the Spanish and the Japanese have taken this Scottish bands to their hearts in a big way, and no wonder that if their headline tour comes off this summer, I hope they'll be back in Leicester.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/leicester/music/2004/03/snow_patrol_astrid_review.shtml

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Snow Patrol + Astrid, Blank Canvas - Tuesday, 9 March 2004

We like our rock bands loud and we like them hairy. With dreadlocks, Farmer Giles-sideys and beards, plus three axes between them assaulting our ears, Terra Diablo satisfied both criteria.

But don’t be fooled by the maturity of the facial furniture and Ian Fairclough’s vocals beyond his years – these Scots are fresh faced young
upstarts and started their set rather cautiously.

Their Alice in Chains drum beats and Foo Fighters riffs soon made a fair section of the crowd warm to them and the band grew noticeably in
confidence. During the set closer and soon-to-be-released single Swings and Roundabouts they were at their head-banging peak.

Notably less hairy and clearly not as loud, but just as Scottish, were Astrid.

The band, who are named after Astrid Kirchherr, the girlfriend of ‘fifth’ Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, banged out some catchy, inoffensive radio-friendly tunes, kind of like a boy band with guitars - but definitely not like Busted.

Despite plugging away for years and with deals in Spain and Japan, they are currently unsigned in the UK and have been selling the Spanish release of their single during this tour.

Word is that CDs are selling well at gigs and on the strength of this performance it seems they have an audience, even if consists of an audience of Snow Patrol fans.

With their sensible haircuts and big ballads, Snow Patrol were next up. But the question is, is Leeds really ready for another Coldplay?

Having sold out the Cockpit and moving the gig to Blank Canvas for all those snow-hungry punters on the strength of the frighteningly Yellow-esque power ballad, Run, the answer seems to be yes.

The terrace chant sing-a-long from the audience during the chorus of Run (hands aloft and everything) set their status as the people’s choice in stone.

Snow Patrol have proved to be kind-hearted blokes, what with taking their pals out on tour. Singer Gary Lightbody even went so far as to repeatedly big them up on stage, even telling fans to buy their tour mates’ t-shirts
rather than their own. I found this sweet, but maybe a little patronising.

But who am I to argue with the hundreds of fans in sheer rapture as their heroes twanged their way through their set? On the strength of the
performance of the audience, I would say this band are just going to get bigger and bigger. Watch your back, Chris Martin.

Cassia Baldock

http://www.bbc.co.uk/leeds/music/2004/03/snowpatrol_review.shtml

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Snow Patrol + Astrid

Live @ Blank Canvas - Tuesday, 9 March 2004

When Morrissey sang the immortal Smiths lyrics: "I should have been wild and I should have been free/but nature played this trick on me" he had in mind the kind of people that are in the groups I'm watching tonight.

It's an interesting thing to consider really... how do some bands get signed while others don't? Why do some shift stacks of albums while others flounder? The last I heard of Snow Patrol they were some Glaswegian Belle & Sebastian boffing understudy. The last couple of months have seen them spiral unimaginable heights with a top three chart hit and some tour of America where Tom Cruise was spotted watching them or something.

I'm invited to this gig tonight by somebody that never usually goes to gigs, hence I know that something sinister is happening with this band. The young indie contingent are out in force tonight, as are the water cooler crew (hipster professionals), so are those strange men in their late twenties/early thirties with the Noel Gallagher haircuts that are often found lurking around these kinds of places and most harrowingly there are even a few of the folks that haunt Wetherspoon's pubs five nights a week in their best shell suit and sovereign rings.

Astrid are a band that have popped up here and there in recent years in the indie nether-nether lands. They start off quite quirky with what sounds like a freshly wrapped variety of pop powered guitar, but gradually they become more and more of a menial audible drudge and by the end of the set are more like hard work to listen to. The singer also keeps telling us to buy their album and t-shirts from the stalls in the corner, like some pushy sales person trying to flog a dead horse... a career in double glazing sir? Get your ass down Joseph's Well and the chances are you'll come across a band better than these guys.

Bring on Snow Patrol. Is it just one of those indie-schmindie clever names or is there really a patrol for snow somewhere? Anyway I can't really understand the appeal or see where the next hit is coming from. They sound like Coldplay being slowly humped by Placebo with the token slowie that sounds like bottom of the sub-Elbow barrel.

There really nice guys and everything and even tell us if we have £15 to buy an Astrid album or t-shirt instead of a Snow Patrol one. But there's nothing new and different on parade tonight, it's from a very safely trodden trad path, the difference is there are many more bands out there that are better at it.

Review written by John Harvey

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Snow Patrol + Astrid + Terra Diablo

Live @ Blank Canvas - Tuesday, 9 March 2004

Venues with pillars are shit. Especially big huge stone ones a few feet square. That aside, the Blank Canvas is a rather cool venue and seems to be increasingly used. It's very full indeed this evening, Snow Patrol's recent popularity boom due to single 'Run' is to blame it would seem.

Terra Diablo get a reasonable reception throughout their set of melodic rock songs that boast a contained energy that the band's onstage presence never really allows a release of. The most static drummer in the world (made doubly worse by the fact that he is on plain view at the front of the stage) plays the entire set with his elbows seemingly fixed to his hips. It looks like he, and the rest of the band are just playing these songs rather than breathing life into them. There are some nice tunes and good vocal harmonies but there's no flair or energy. One of the guitarists does his best but he could do with some help from the rest of the band to elevate these songs. There are moments of Goo Goo Dolls, Idlewild and indeed Snow Patrol but Terra Diablo don't quite have the vigour to have us leave with their name firmly imprinted on our minds.

Next up from this Celtic trio are Astrid. More assured onstage than the openers it takes Astrid a couple of songs to get into their stride but once they do they captivate the crowd and hold them. The mix of acoustic and electric guitars works well and some powerful vocals lead the songs along whilst the harmonies are made three fold. The songs rock out whilst retaining a definite sense of melody, powerful and energetic yet emotive at the same time. Unfortunately we don't get many song names, which contributes to an overall feeling of a good set but with no one song that really sticks in your mind. Well worth further investigation however.

Snow Patrol take the stage to huge applause, it's clear there are older fans here and not just ones who think the band didn't exist before 'Run'. Some technical hiccups in the first couple of song lead into some amusing banter, the band seem relaxed on stage and work this crowd up a treat. Definitely not the new Coldplay, Snow Patrol have some lively tunes that have feet tapping and arms aloft. Crashing drums and crunching guitars whip up an atmosphere and an energy amongst the crowd. A few slow numbers dropped in too close to each other brings things down a touch too much. Forthcoming single 'Chocolate' gets a fine airing indeed but of course it is 'Run' that steals the show. It is a good song but tonight the crowd make it, singing along in unison. You get the feeling that when no one in the crowds Snow Patrol have played to before were singing along it could have passed you by. It's proof that once you strike a chord with people and get them on your side you need to know how to maintain that and work it. Snow Patrol have put in the hours and are reaping the rewards.

Review written by Holden DeForge

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Headliner:

Ben Lee

Support:

Astrid

Location:

G2, Glasgow

Date:

1 April 1999


 

Although Astrid are Scottish, their support slot tonight is not city specific, catering to the punctual on this, the British leg of the Ben Lee tour. With the weather, shall we say, untypical Astrid introduce Ben to Glasgow on a day of Summer. Perhaps the only day we'll see all year. We who were gathered were feeling lighter for the rare occurrence. For this reason the breezy, sunny music of Astrid was relatively safe from any major loathing. They were completely unimaginative, yet somehow got away with it simply because they had no interest in being clever or original. Singing about the sun shining and a resemblance to the Monkees both in mannerisms and musicals style, (though not pop song talent), seemed to generate an invisible force field protecting the youngsters from negative thoughts.

I'm sure Ben Lee must be exhausted by the constant fuss over his age and I'd rather not dwell on it, yet the boy that held the stage before us was completely unexpected. I've read that he's now 21 but in the flesh he looked but 16. I thought the Australian sun was supposed to age a body. I'll try not to mention it again.

Perhaps I'm wrong, (though on this rare occasion I know I'm not), but surely an act an audience has paid to see should not have to ask for silence. Twice Ben politely paused. Please tell me it's not just Glasgow that's guilty of this. It seem regardless of who you are you'll be drowned out by conversations. Ironically tonight it was Astrid and their hometown mates who were most at fault. Their protective field was down and my ample hate was free to radiate. Fortunately Ben isn't yet as intolerant as say, Mark Eitzel or myself and simply loved his music. Backed by a band possessing plentiful character of their own, Ben Lee strummed sometimes furiously, always melodically and mutilated the mike stand with every opportunity he got. It went with him to his knees and loyally followed him to the floor when he fell with an ill-placed foot on his monitor. I'm unsure why this never bothered me. Perhaps because it wasn't theatrical but sincere or maybe it's his charisma. Certainly he's an endearing fellow. An ideal son in law.

Unaccompanied, Ben demonstrated his comfort and rewarded an orderly silence with impressively strong vocals laid bare. Then, with the band still settled at the back of the stage, he reapplied his acoustic and shared an unexpected version of The Misfits classic Skulls. He could have gone home at this point for I had been satisfied. He didn't though. He couldn't really, the set was only half done. The band as a unit worked well together with plentiful spunk. From each of the keyboard electric things, much of the set's quirkier noises came. One had a theramin-type setup amongst her gear while the other subtly shared the final track with Ben as she crouched and typed out a gentle accompaniment to his impressive less-is-more climax.

The hall was employed by an ideal number of spectators though not in regards to ticket sales. Everyone had the correct volume of space in which to dance independent of one another, had they chosen to, and some did. A guy within earshot turned with every new song and said to a friend, oh yes this is a great song this. Well-being abounded. With relief I can acknowledge that this was one gig worth paying for.

Andrew Morrison
April 1999

http://www.remoteinduction.co.uk/audio/bleetrid.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------

SNOW PATROL, TERRA DIABLO, & ASTRID – MANCHESTER ACADEMY – 8TH MARCH 2004

After Saturdays gig at the Sheffield Leadmill, I was very interested to see how the three bands would cope with the vast arena that is the academy. Do any of the three have the potential to take the giant step forward, and become an arena band?

Reversing the roll of opening act does astrid no favours, on first with the venue only half full (still well over 500 people, probably more than were at the entire Sheffield gig). Opening number “To Tell You The Truth” really get everyone’s attention from the opening hit of the drums, which thuds out at with a great rhythmic beat, the audience are gripped. It’s all new stuff again, with less sales pitches (just one for t-shirts!). The songs keep flowing and there is really vigour and energy to the performance. The harmonies Willie & Charlie create can not be faulted, Neil & Gareth pound out the rhythms.

With the added maturity of the new songs, and the two years of rehearsing them, astrid really do perform well. The bigger stage gives each band member more space than usual; they bounce around, and live it up! The first couple of numbers are rockin, and then the next couple are slow more subtle numbers before upping the pace again towards the end of their set.

It’s rare to attend any gig where the support band is much more than something to listen to while waiting for the main event, a quick glance around the venue during the performance of “Something In My Way”, (“which will be our single when some bastard signs us again”, Willie informs everyone), confirms my opinion that astrid are going down really well, people who have never heard of astrid before are hooked! The show finale “Seahorse Perfect” is an epic, it builds, & builds from a quiet start, and just when you think they’ve reached a crescendo, they up it another notch & finish with all four band members hammering their instruments for all there worth!

I still can’t believe a band with this much talent is struggling to get a record deal (has all the music industry gone deaf?). I can’t imagine anybody who witnessed the performance was disappointed. If you get the chance, you must see them live!

On to Terra Diablo (spotted in the pub across the road, an hour or so before the gig), my first thoughts after Sheffield are confirmed here. The line up consists of, “Swampy” guitar & vocals, “A couple of 70’s roadies on drums & keyboards”, “A Datsun” on guitar, “the one from the strokes nobody knows” on another guitar, and most strange of all “Ashley from coronation street” playing the Bass.

With all the guitars they do make one hell of noise, but I still think they are playing to the wrong audience. Their style is along the lines of the current fad for modern day rock, circa hundred reasons, the datsuns, with a little bit iron maiden & the darkness thrown in. They do give there all, & perform better than at Sheffield. But I still find myself looking around & not listening. How do the singers in this style of band manage to pinch their noses and play guitar at the same time? Nasal singing is not a quality I’m fond off. Time to go to the bar; I’m right at the front next to the barrier and fully expect my place to be gone when I return. However after a lengthy journey to the toilets & bar, I return to find that there are less people at the front? Did someone let off a stink bomb? To quote the person next to me “Terra Diablo, more like Terrible Diablo”. They have potential, and may mature into something different, let’s hope so.

Onto to The Patrol, the venue really fills up after Terra Diablo, and by the time they take the stage there is an excited, expectant audience, waiting with anticipation for Snow Patrol to play all their favourites form “Final Straw”.

On the whole the audience aren’t disappointed, and are treated to the most memorable of the Final Straw tracks, with a few old songs throw in, just to show that they aren’t just a flash in the pan. Gary Lightbody, on more than one occasion, announces that this is the biggest gig Snow Patrol have ever played and it’s the gig that they were most looking forward to when they set out on tour! The trumpet player from Manchester outfit Alfie makes an appearance & performs one song. I’m enjoying it they rock it up, and Lightbody seems to be having the time of his life, bouncing around the stage like a man possessed. There is less frailty to his voice tonight; perhaps having the previous night off has given his vocal chords that chance to recover.

A little bit of prompting to sing along, (which they promise never to do again), and the crowd gets what it’s been waiting for, “Run”, it’s the song that launched them into the mainstream and it’s on the back of it, & the albums success, that so many people are here. The crowd do sing and take over for the final part; it’s a fantastic song, and the band is physically moved by the reaction they receive. How do you follow that? Well they played a couple more songs, left & returned for the encore, played another couple of songs.

But it will be the reaction to “Run” that will linger in my memory, other songs like “Chocolate” & “Spitting Games” are good, but “Run” is truly great. I’m sure that in the future “Run” will be destined for the encore. The trouble now for The Patrol is to produce a follow up to “Final Straw” that does not disappoint all their new found fans, who are looking for an album full of great songs!

I started by asking whether any of the bands could make the next leap, well on tonight’s evidence two of them can, one defiantly not.

Jon Cantrill

(Webmaster for Suitable For Frequent Use)

 

SNOW PATROL, ASTRID & TERRA DIABLO – SHEFFIELD LEADMILL – 6TH MARCH 2004

The sold out show at the Leadmill begins with Terra Diablo, haling from Glasgow, and with an appearance that wouldn’t look out of place during the next anti capitalism march, the lead singer completes the look with his swampy style image! The Terra Diablo website (www.terradiablo.com) describes their sound as unique, incendiary & essential. However, the music is a Scottish twist on the current fad for indie/metal cross over style music, which must be accompanied by a nasal drawl that declares and almost ambivalent attitude to the songs.  There is plenty of aggression to the sound, and they do perform to quite a high standard. They are rocking, and muster all their efforts, but I start to lose interest around the fourth number, my mate wonders off to the bar. They are good at what they do, but on tonight’s performance they lack that little bit of individuality to make them stand out from the crowd. The trouble for them is that the audience aren’t here for their style of music, on another night, with another audience, I’m sure the reaction to them would have been far better.

Without a record deal for the best part of  two years (apart from deals in Spain & Japan!), with material recorded and waiting to be released, currently supporting Snow Patrol on their sell out UK tour, and with a solid reputation as songwriters & live act, you would think astrid would have the record companies queuing up outside their managers door. However it seems that despite all these things in their favour, no UK release of their album “One In Four” is imminent.

(Please note that there are more than one astrid touring at present, these are the boys haling from the Isle of Lewis, not the awful woman who used to be in Goya Dress)

The band have resorted to selling the Spanish release of the album at gigs as they only way to keep themselves on the road. To this aim they showcase only new material, astrid have always been a quality live act, but have been accused on many occasions to be performing songs that are a little bit to happy/soppy. On to the set, their isn’t a song I don’t enjoy, but highlights include the truly beautiful “Trinity” & the epic “Seahorse Perfect” which builds and builds, and they really do rip it up on “Something In My Way” & “Suitable For Frequent Use”. Songs sung with passion & harmony, there is a new depth and a little more creativity to their sound. “To Tell You The Truth” with it hammering drum beat, is a real contrast. “Sink Down” is another beautiful song; they haven’t lost the knack for a catchy tune, but have broadened this out and produced some epic numbers. The crowd are generally very receptive to the band and leave to applause, shouts, whistles, etc. they sell out of CD’s at the merchandise stall (a good sign if ever there was one). If this band can’t get a record deal, then there really is a serious problem with the record industry in this country.

Had a quick word with Willie (singer/guitar) after the show, he says that there is some interest in the band from record labels, and performing to full houses every night is defiantly helping. It’s always strange talking to your heroes, it always ends up with, “can you sign this”, or “I thought you were great”, and generally making a twat of yourself, a reply of “are you the guy who does the website” (does this translate as “quick get me out of here the stalker has arrived”). But, to be truthful, he was genuinely nice! (Don’t worry Willie; I don’t want your babies or anything).

So onto Snow Patrol, I’ve always quite liked the patrol, but never considered them to be a band that I would rush out to buy their latest release, but wouldn’t mind spending a few quid on eBay to get their albums cheap. All this changed with release of the “Final Straw” album, they’d developed and grown and produced some really memorable songs, and produced an album I have yet to get tired of listening to.

By the time I arrive back from the bar (It’s great to have someone else driving). The place is really full and we stand near the back, the atmosphere is good, and they perform a string of songs from the re-released “Final Straw” with the odd old song thrown in, musically they rock, Gary Lightbody’s voice hovers between the sublime and out of tune. There are songs that stand out, and songs that act as the filling in the sandwich, highlights are “Chocolate”, “Wow”, & “Spitting Games”, It’s good to see a band really enjoying themselves, however its when they perform “Run”, the single on the back of which they have sold out their current tour, that the crowd go wild, the singing of every word from hundreds of fans defines the moment when you know you are listening to a great song. I suppose this is when a band knows when they really have arrived, whether they can ever top that song is hard to say, but it does give them the platform on which to surge forward. They complete the set, go off, and after a short break, and return for a two song encore. Stirring stuff and well performed & well worth the £7.50 entry fee (prices set before hitting the big time).

The next few months will either see Snow Patrol disappear back from whence they came, or rise to new heights and take over the Coldplay/Travis mantle of million selling album artists. On the evidence of tonight performance it could well be the latter.

Written by,

Jon Cantrill

(Webmaster for Suitable For Frequent Use)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

More awful repeats

Astrid Garage, London

Maddy Costa (The Guardian)
Friday August 11, 2000


The (mostly male) crowd were barking for more at the end of Astrid's show, but I'd be pushed to give a reason why. Astrid are, in essence, an indie boyband and they adhere absolutely to the rules of their genre: basic verse-chorus structures, guitars that rock in a jangly, unadventurous way, lyrics about girls, films, sunshine. If the Scottish quintet have an idiosyncrasy, it's a penchant for repetition, a stylistic shortcoming that is all the more offensive because their lyrics are insipid in the extreme.

They reach their nadir with the chorus to Horror Movie: "I love horror movies/Monsters and ghouls are just so groovy". Even if it were ironic, it would be awful. In a weak attempt to instill some character into their bouncing pop rock, they make ample use of the theremin button on the keyboard; the result is about as eerie as a plastic toy mummy, and just as spineless. Astrid relentlessly demonstrate their belief that a song isn't complete unless the chorus has been sung eight times without once acknowledging that simplicity and reiteration don't automatically breed memorable songs.

Their final attempt at a tune fleetingly hints that they might, finally, redeem themselves: it opens with the words, "Are you a boy or are you a girl? Even when you rock my world", and you think, ah, an essay on the intricacies of transvestite life! Musings on bisexuality! But no: they just repeat those two lines again and again until there is nothing to read between them.

 

Astrid + DNA - The Lomax, Liverpool, 6 March 2001

Collen Chandler (www.musicomh.com)

DNA are pure eclecticism. There's ten of them up there, each operating within their own square foot of the Lomax stage, but this isn't some kind of Godspeed! You Black Emperor tribute. The drums and bass are the most constant instruments throughout, the resulting funk styled trip-hop is persuasive and often powerful.

The three vocalists highlight the variance of this band, emanating Jeff Buckley, Skye, Morcheeba and a Maxi Jazz-styled MC, they intertwine to produce movements rather than parts to songs, often throwing choruses to the winds in favour of atmosphere.

A combination of Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and University students, the added elements of keyboards, decks, trumpet, sax and guitar provide a truly original sound. In only their infant days, this combo could prove too eclectic for their own good, but with a provisional session at ShoutFM they can only improve.

Which kind of makes things funny for Astrid. If DNA are exploring new territories, then Astrid are just…well…nice, (in the worst possible use of the word). Indie-pop at its most Teenage Fanclub, Astrid are competent, friendly, and look a little like Travis. So, about as rock'n'roll as my Gran, but I'm doing my utmost to overlook that point.

They certainly have occasional tunes tucked under their belts, or rather even in their trousers, but seem reluctant to whip them out (ooh, Vicar!) for fear of having them chopped off, amputated by the collective Rock Gods of Good Taste. So, whilst songs like Tick-Tock and Kitchen TV rise above the banale and almost become The Beach Boys via the Isle of Lewis, the rest of the set never seems to leave the tried and tested janglepop framework.

Safe, inoffensive - but what's the point? I suppose they would tell us it's about the music - the soundtrack to a nice summer's day. Sun-baked faces, freshly-mown grass, those days when there's nothing to do. Whether you find that a viable artistic statement or not, I'll leave to your own discretion. But it bores me to tears.

Astrid - Strange Weather Lately

Reviewed: September 1999 - Reviewed by Peter Kane (Q magazine)

Is it too soon to proclaim the new Travis? Well, how about Cast then? Hailing originally from the isle of Lewis (wherever that is), Astrid favour the old reliable two guitars-bass-drums approach and, thanks to Edwyn Collins's unfussy production, pretty much stick to that. Whatever they lack in originality they more than make up for in youthful exuberance with most of the 13 tracks clocking in at three minutes or less, just like it used to be. Nifty choruses and breezy harmonies abound with Boy Or Girl even stomping along like a fortuitous tangle between Chicory Tip and the La's. It'll certainly do for starters.

Astrid  - Play Dead

Reviewed by Steve Lowe (Q Magazine)

With Travis and Coldplay now regularly gracing Radio 2 playlists and Simon & Garfunkel cited as major influences of the day, the once raucous field of indie-rock has rediscovered itself in the middle of the road. Certainly, there's little about Scottish islanders Astrid to displease Grandma. The jangles, beats and harmonies revisit that decade before the '70s, although with levels of adventure nearer The Hollies than The Byrds. With the likes of Tick Tock and Hard To Be A Person suggesting The La's with the heat turned off, the na•ve charm is finally stretched too far. Even Grandma might find Play Dead a little toothless.

Astrid: Play Dead (Amazon.co.uk Review)

Play Dead is Astrid's second album and--rather like their first--casts them as toddler-like pretenders to Teenage Fanclub's golden throne. Indicatively, several abundantly hummable songs--the albums's title track and the single "Tick Tock" for example--champion traditional pop values to excellent effect. But, oh, for a little more individuality. The nagging suspicion that Astrid are playing their cards too far away from their chest becomes apparent on "It Never Happened", which recalls Dodgy circa 1993, and "Wrong For You" which is Shack's "Cornish Town" with extra clotted-cream and an all too similar Simon and Garfunkel vocal coda. The albums' standout track, the playful "Horror Movies", couldn't be any more like the Fountains of Wayne if it was written and performed by the Fountains of Wayne. Hang on, that's a real compliment. --Kevin Maidment

Astrid: Play Dead

Vive la pop!, 15 September, 2001

Reviewer: Colleen (weirdclouds@hotmail.com) from New York, USA

Since when has the harmonies-guitar-bass-drums format been buried in the muiscal graveyard with "PASSE" on it's epitaph? Why the sudden need for advanced technology and distorted vocals or incongruous arrangements (*cough* neoRadiohead *cough*)?

Enter astrid: undaunted soldiers in indie rock's finest regiment. Armed with bite-size nuggets of melody and harmony, this fearsome foursome fight in the name of good ol'-fashioned guitar pop. And *Play Dead*, their latest battle-cry, is one that should leave technophiles shaking in their Swear Shoes.

While slower songs have been the bulk of astrid's b-sides over the course of their young career, here they become one of the album's strongest points. The achingly beautiful "Alas" invokes sleepy smiles, while the tender vocals on "Taken for Granted" are sweet and peaceful. But, as they are known to do, astrid rock through a number of tracks. "It Never Happened" and "Just One Name" have bodies bopping and shaggy heads bobbing. "Crying Boy", one of the most dancable indie tracks of the year, delights with it's infectious beat and energetic horns. Not to say that astrid have lost their sense of fun amidst all this heartbreak and sincerity. "Horror Movies" and "What You're Thinking" prove that, when it comes to the line, meaning still loses to melody. And that's the way it should be.

Strange Weather Lately CD Consumer

Astrid: Strange Weather Lately
(Fantastic Plastic)

by Geoffrey Woolf

Sometimes it occurs to me that it would have been better if we had lost the Revolutionary War. The UK music mags would not have to spill gallons of ink on “Can Travis Break America?” or “Will the Stereophonics conquer the states?” Super Furry Animals would be multi-millionaires fat on the Yankee dollar. As imperial stooges of the empire on which the sun never set, we would be force fed the best pop music in the world. High taxes would preclude the proliferation of  bland domestic alt.rock cack. I would be able to use the word “cack” without sounding like an utter tosser. Crap, there I go again. And Scotland's Astrid would be in heavy rotation by law.

So here we go again with Astrid, supposedly Belle & Sebastian’s favorite, perfect pop traditionalists in the spirit of 1965-1968 as merged with (gasp) The Paisley Underground (weep for joy). It jangles like all the best psychedelipop, hooks like great Merseybeat, sticks in your head like a really hot phone number, and means nothing, precious nothing at all. 

Michael Quercio (Three o’Clock) fronting the La’s, Mick Head (Shack, Pale Fountains) writing songs for the Monkees, The Turtles as Gen Xers, any way I play the old bus-crash game, it shakes out—The Apples (in stereo) soundchecking for The Association.

Astrid’s wildcard, the nineties hallmark, is an un-self-conscious androgyny (self-conscious androgyny benchmark: Suede) that allows for lyrics like “I’m AC/DC/ I’m looking for something good” and “Are you a boy or a girl?/ Either way you rock my world.” Oh sure, it’s probably just as contrived as Belle & Sebastian’s sad androgynous artiness, but the hedonistic angle is cute here; besides, if everyone were sincere all the time, we’d get more Counting Crows, and we wouldn’t want that now would we, pilgrim?

Honorable Mention: My four year old will not stop singing, “Cuz it’s you/ and the things you do/ and the things you do.”

Strange Weather Lately NME

Astrid - Strange Weather Lately
(Fantastic Plastic)

You don't always need something important to say, you know. You could attack Scottish four-piece Astrid for being without an agenda. For lyrics about twee, everyday things.

But you'd be missing the point. After all, too many bands substitute a solid agenda for a lack of any discernible tunes (see Gay Dad), an ability to produce soundbites far outweighing the need to sound at all listenable on record. At least two-year-old Astrid have their musical priorities in order. Quite simply, they do pop and, as this Edwyn Collins-produced debut album shows, they do it well.

So you won't be quoting their lyrics on your school folder, but their breezily addictive choruses make up for it. This is a feel-good album of the highest order. It's Teenage Fanclub if they lived in California and surfed every day ('Plastic Skull'), The Lemonheads without the neurosis (the gorgeous 'Redground') and REM at their happiest ('High In The Morning').

Forget style statements and earth-shattering quotes for a moment. Sometimes, it's OK just to enjoy listening.

Band Review The Austin Chronicle

The British press has heaped upon Astrid the highest praise one can on that cold and dreary island: They sound like summer. That cherished season in the UK is all about blue skies, pink people basking shirtless in parks, and music festivals dotting the countryside. The Astrid boys hail from the bleakest of Scottish islands, Lewis, where the peat fields (bogs, really) blanket the sunless terrain, and the scary religious folks infamously lock the children's swings on Sundays. Apparently, these childhood friends learned to create their own sunny weather with music before they escaped to the big city of Glasgow at seventeeen.

A touch of the Zombies, Monkees, La's, and okay, even Travis, Astrid play that strummy sort of pop that the young, pert, and chirpy usually pull off for an album or two. Youth, of course, is great for sheer self-belief and tireless energy, but perhaps not so good for breaking new ground. Certainly they've added modern touches, but producer Edwyn Collins keeps them quite traditional.

In the grand scheme of music, bands like this should resurface from time to time to make us jealous of youth and remind us of pop's purity. By way of youthful comparison, Astrid aren't as punk Ash was or as, well, fantabulous as Supergrass, but they do that thing they do, and we dig it this time around.

astrid: Strange Weather Lately

One of the perils of mail-ordering from web sites that don't really know what they're selling, which is most of them, is that the long list of things they don't know may include a few critically important details. The one from which I acquired Astrid's two I Am the Boy for You singles, for example, failed to note that the Hi-Fi Lo-Fi EP, which of course I also ordered to complete my Astrid collection, shares a catalog page with the others only due to a careless database-operator's inattention to case. Astrid, who capitalizes her name, is Astrid Williamson, former singer of Goya Dress and author of last year's bracing solo debut Boy for You. astrid, lowercase, are an irrepressible Scottish power-pop quartet whose debut album, Strange Weather Lately, produced by Edwyn Collins, has nothing in common with Astrid Williamson's discs other than the lack of a US distributor. Lest you fall into this trap: I Am the Boy for You, Boy for You and Hozanna are Astrid Williamson's, all on Nude Records; Hi-Fi Lo-Fi, High in the Morning, It's True and Strange Weather Lately are astrid-the-band's, all on the label Fantastic Plastic.