AstroblastThis Will Help You on Your Way (Planting Seeds)
Combining the feedback and fuzz of My Bloody Valentine and Lush with the sprightly twee-pop of Kitty Craft and Dressy Bessy, Astroblast manages to be explosive and coy all at once. The Austin-by-way-of-Waco quartet's second disc jumps off the mark in punchy attack mode with "Conversation Hearts," before a quick recessional segue into the sparse electric piano intro to "North Georgia Experiment." Lead vocalist Jenn Kellough's pixie doll voice creates a distinctive contrast to the wall of FX-drenched guitars and mad-scientist keyboards. Though the drums could be more prominent on a would-be blowout like "Maladjusted," other songs like the longingly serene "The Lows" benefit greatly from the album's overall sense of muted intimacy. Then again, "Fall Out" is a swell enough stab at distorted pop-punk with an undercurrent of keyboard-fueled melancholia reminiscent of the Chills. Even if you took away all the effects pedals, the manner in which Astroblast crafts slowly building songs with simple but forceful melodies suggests a collective ear well-honed on the basics of classic pop. To put it another way, fans of the late Sixteen Deluxe owe it to themselves to check this group out.