Astrid (supporting snow patrol) – Leicester 10th March
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
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.
don’t be fooled by the maturity of the facial furniture and Ian
Fairclough’s vocals beyond his years – these Scots are fresh faced
upstarts and started their set rather cautiously.
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,
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
and have been selling the Spanish release of their single during
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.
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.
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
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
rather than their own. I found this sweet, but maybe a little
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
performance of the audience, I would say this band are just going to
get bigger and bigger. Watch your back, Chris Martin.
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
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
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
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
Review written by
1 April 1999
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
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
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.
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.
politely paused. Please tell me it's not just
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Suitable For Frequent Use)
More awful repeats
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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
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)
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)
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
Astrid: Play Dead (Amazon.co.uk
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
Reviewer: Colleen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
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
Astrid: Strange Weather Lately
by Geoffrey Woolf
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?
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
Astrid - Strange Weather Lately
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.
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