BAD ASTRONAUT: Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment: CD

I know these guys have been around a while, but the only time I can recall hearing any of their previous stuff was a track off one of the Warped Tour “Floyd” comps (and to be completely honest, I can’t remember the song at all). According to the sticker on the front of the jewel case, the band features Joey and Derrick of Lagwagon and Marko of Sugarcult. Beyond recognizing the band names, this really means very little to me as I’ve never heard a single thing Lagwagon’s done and I only know the one Sugarcult song. So approaching this CD with virgin ears and no preconceptions, what can I say? Well, to sum it up, this sounds like veteran ‘90s era Epi-Fat pop punkers making music that melodically seems to owe a lot to the song “Hotel California” but with all the production flourishes from a later day Flaming Lips album that seem to make a few dozen new things pop up every time you listen to the album. In short: very interesting. It took a few listens to take it all in, but it’s growing on me. The songs are all pretty uniformly strong, but for some reason, the only one that really seems to stick out as a whole is “Stillwater, California.” It’s a pretty touching tribute to departed band member and drummer Derrick Plourde, along with Jason and Bomer. I believe all three were in RKL at one time. At any rate, definitely solid and interesting, if not necessarily an immediate adrenaline rush. And seriously, this must be some of the best production I’ve ever heard on an independent label record.

 –Adrian (Fat Wreck)