"Chances are, if you're looking into Bad Astronaut, you've heard about them because of Lagwagon or The Ataris. And chances are you enjoy listening to those bands, so this would be a no-brainer. Well you're right, Bad Astronaut is a definite step in the right direction... Though you might not be expecting what you hear.Bad Astronaut is a bit of a departure from the norm. They're not the raw, intense, mosh-inspiring group you might expect to find when combining members from bands like Lagwagon and The Ataris. Instead, Bad Astronaut focuses a little bit more on being almost poetic with their riffs and melodies, and a tad bit more melancholy with lyrics. It's not fast like traditional punk music, it's pretty mellow... But that only makes it better.I got the first Bad Astronaut CD when it first came out because I love Joey Cape's voice and lyrics. It turned out to be a great example of a few guys getting together, taking a risk and succeeding brilliantly. On both CDs the music is awesome, it's not intrusive and yet far from boring... perfect.What surprised me about this particular CD was the amount of acoustics. There aren't any songs that are purely acoustic, but quite often a song will either start off or fade out with acoustics, which really gives it a touch of style. The first CD didn't have that, but I'm glad this one does.All in all, this is an outstanding CD. Highly recommended. However, I would warn anyone that doesn't have a desire to expand their musical horizons. If you're just looking for music to pump you up before a show, or something to get you fired up for your next boarding session, this probably isn't where to look. But if you're ready to experiment a little bit and really get a taste of musical genius, this is definitely a great place to be."
Bad Astronaut - Houston We Have a Drinking Problem
Rob Testerman | Baltimore, Maryland USA | 04/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Imagine the Foo Fighters combined with Radiohead and a moody version of Lagwagon - and you have yourself Bad Astronaut. Bad Astronaut, the newest "super-group" on the block features members of Lagwagon (Joey - vox/guitar), Sugarcult (Marko - bass), and the Ataris (Derek - drums), as well as a handful of cameos, most notably by John Popper of Blues Traveler. But what does Bad Astronaut sound like? Well, it is a little difficult to describe, but basically they are a rather dark and often moody rock band, with a very production heavy meshing of a number of instruments.Aside from the usual Guitar/Bass/Drums, Bad Astronaut is often overlain with piano, strings, sampling, keyboards, drum machines, harmonica, more guitars, and backing vocals - conjuring a lush sound crisp in quality, yet deep and from the heart. Joey Cape's nasal yet powerful voice is the only real similar trait shared between Lagwagon and Bad Astronaut. The music has a very definite indy sound, with a large variance in song themes. There isn't a strong sing-song vibe on this release, more of a feeling of "sit back and soak it all in."Acrophobe, the first release from Bad Astronaut was obviously an experimentation process for this band. Their first release jumped all around, not really ever finding a style that could define the album as a whole. Houston ... on the other hand, sounds almost as if it could be one single track, growing, mutating and developing throughout. The album kicks off with the darkly mellow "These Days", and this style follows through to the second track "Clear Cutting." The third track, "Single" is a bit more upbeat ... but leads well into the powerhouse "Break Your Frame." The album continues on at the same pace until we come across the rather unique, "Solar Sister." "Our Greatest Year" seems to be the intended closing track, but the disk is actually closed out by the sample heavy "The Passenger," which seems to be the most heavily Radiohead influenced track on this release.I have no complaints about this disk. It is very listenable, and laid-back, but never boring. This is truly as pastepunk.com called it, "a masterpiece of misery." Bad Astronaut does for Joey Cape what Tom Delonge from Blink 182 couldn't quite pull off with Boxcar Racer, and that is to front a side project different enough from his original band. I would absolutely recommend this album. Go buy it right now. 9/10For reviews like this and much more, visit bigtouchin.com"
Houston, We Have A Record Review
Leonard Laroux | Auburn, AL United States | 08/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You are reading reviews for this record, no doubt, for one of two reasons: Either you've come across this band through indie torrent searching, or you're a fan of Lagwagon and Joey Cape. To this knowledge, there are a few things any listener of these CDs should be aware of.
Bad Astronaut, due to the creation of writer/singer Joey Cape, has been labeled by many as a genre of punk. Admittedly, when you spin back towards Acrophobe, the distinctions are considerably more blurred. However, I cannot possibly categorize Houston... as a punk CD.
This is the unfortunate fault of many people who buy these CDs. Most of them have expected a CD on par with Lagwagon, and this is simply not the case. The music is not so similar(unless, as I mentioned, you're listening to Acrophobe, which shares much more in common with Lagwagon than Houston does). As poor David Hyatt is concerned, this CD isn't "Punk" enough for good ol' Joey Cape. The flaw in reasoning is at once understandable, due to categorization, but also poorly thought out.
The first thing you should note about Houston... is the slow progression of the opening track, These Days, which is a dead giveaway to the nature of this CD. The CD itself flows in a slower, conceptual way, dropping the speed and breakdowns of Lagwagon. If anything, Bad Astronaut has created a CD that flows into a vein of music that defines generalization. As so far, I have yet to hear a band that sounds even remotely similar.
I disagree with David, who seems to believe that the lyrics to Houston... are not as impressive as Lagwagon lyrics. Personally, I've always found Lagwagon to fall short in their lyrical content, mostly because Joey Cape's inability to direct an idea in his lyrics consistently. What's impressive, to me, about Houston... is the advancement of the lyrics, and their scope and nature. If you listen to this CD, it becomes apparent that there's a story here. If nothing else, this CD is just as the name suggests: the life of a drinker and a mover.
The CD is not without it's dead points, personally I cannot usually listen to Solar Sister or If I Had a Son, as they typically bore me to death. Though, the rest of the tracks on the CD more than make up for the two points I consider to be weak. And sure, there are a few spots where the lyrics get a little bit silly(Not a Dull Moment), but even those can be overlooked.
I believe that Bad Astronaut is truly the side of Joey Cape that's been trying to get out. As if his acoustic split with Tony Sly wasn't proof of this fact, it just seems to me that without spending so much time away from Lagwagon, he would've never come to realize a CD as broad and amazing as this. It shows maturity in bounds and leaps over the same tried-and-true formula that Lagwagon is famous for. Really, isn't this what music is about? Maturity? Growing up and experimenting?
This CD is an amazing testament to how complex any one person can be, showing that even the hardest rockers can expel their shell for something a bit more modest. I believe Joey Cape has done a great job with this CD, as well as the entire band as a whole(rest in peace Derrick Plourde). Perhaps the only true issue I have with this CD is the volume it was recorded at, which has the tendency to make even the kindest and smoothest speakers crackle a bit here and there, but overall, the production value is superb.
If there were ever a category for Bad Astronaut, I would list it as something around a Pop Funk Emo. But let's hope it never comes to that, because categorizing music makes it less individualistic, and Bad Astronaut is certainly it's own individual in the music industry."
Sannah Zay | San Jose, CA USA | 08/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As is probably the case with most people looking into "Bad Astronaut," I am a big Lagwagon fan. Now, from Lagwagon I don't expect to hear pianos or strings or anything... but you'll get those on a Bad Astronaut album. But don't let that make you think the music is all that significantly different. Joey Cape's voice is so distinctive, you often forget you're not listening to Lagwagon at times... because at times, the music is actually quite similar to Lagwagon. But only at times... at other times, you'll hear all kinds of other musical styles. On this album at least, Bad Astronaut manages to make their songs flow seamlessly, even though they range over so many musical styles and employ so many instruments. The music is in one word "impressive." The songwriting, the style and the musicianship are all top-notch. Although there's nothing immediately noticeable about how novel their music is, since at any given time, you'll think you've heard that genre of music before. But when you see how they manage to weave it all together, and still arrive at more-than-listenable music (in fact, really good music), you'll be impressed as well."
David Short | 02/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Punk is in the eye of the beholder. Ask legions of adament fans of acts like Pennywise, Rancid or NOFX if Blink-182 or Good Charlotte are punk. They'll probably tell you no. Hell, some Avirl Lavigne fans might say that Bad Religion isn't punk. Just what the hell is punk, anyway? Nobody knows.This record falls somewhere between punk and that wonderful, nebulous area of music we call 'experimental.' At times sparse and intimate ('Our Greatest Year') and at others straight-ahead rock ('Single'), and often both during the same song, this album is hard to classify. But since when is that a bad thing?Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape has a knack for writing lyrics that are deep and catchy, and above all impossible to understand. It's really okay if you can't figure out what the hell he's singing about: just smile and nod and say he's 'insightful.' I'm not saying that these lyrics are throw-away word-fillers, just that you shouldn't expect songs about how much the government [is bad] or about being dumped by girls. What really shines on this album is the music: it's never repetetive, an all-too-frequent occurance in punk. It's also thought-provoking and at times downright catchy.This record probably will [upset] a lot of close-minded people. After all, there are drum loops, acoustic guitars, keyboards galore, and even some harmonica, care of Blues Traveller's John Popper. But since when does diverse mean un-punk? Remember, The Clash were integrating reggae into their sound twenty years ago. That certainly wasn't 'punk.'This album is serene and furious, bright and dull, and catchy and underground, but above all it is a joy to listen to. If you've got an open mind it's definately worth a shot."