Space Rock, Grounded

You might expect some serious space rock from a band called The Asteroid Shop. Song titles like “Planetary” seem to confirm the suspicion that you’re in for the kind of shoe-gazing guitar rock that might soundtrack a zero-gravity flight into the great unknown.

But band leader Eric Brendo (interviewed on this blog here) brings an earthy road-weariness to his baritone vocals and guitar work on this Austin, Texas band’s self-titled debut. While the album opens in space with the thundering “Destroyer,” by the second half The Asteroid Shop has landed in the dusty desert of the American West.  A lot of bands pick one sound and stick with it, so it’s refreshing to hear this band unplug the guitars and bring in instrumentation more common to the folk and country genres. The result is some real winners like the folksy “Ashes” and lovelorn “Silver Lane.”

The Asteroid Shop
Under the stars...

Not every song works and the album drags somewhat in the middle. The lyrics are unlikely to stick in one’s head and Brendo’s vocals are a little rough around the edges. The instrumentals are what’s compelling here. Atmosphere may be one the album’s greatest strengths, whether in the thundering bass of opener “Destroyer” or the shimmering guitar and synths of “Dandelion.”  They’re also not afraid to surprise with a quick tempo change, as they do to great effect with the groovy ’60s organ jam in the otherwise sleepy “Planetary.”  While not all the songs engage the listener, this is a promising album by a band that knows how to set a mood.

Download “Dandelion” for free right here.

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