Astra Heights, Good Problems

Astra Heights, Good Problems

Is iPod-Rock an official genre yet? Jet, The Fratellis, that ultra-processed garage-glam-pop-rock sound…just close your eyes and picture those twitchy shadow dancers in monochrome hell. shudder It’s damn easy (and fun) to mock, but the music’s so undeniably catchy that no one can resist its charm. Everybody catches it eventually, and once it’s in you, it’s there for good. Like herp…uh, chicken pox.

With Good Problems, the boys from Astra Heights have quickly picked the aforementioned niche and don’t stray. Head-bobbing riffs, clap-your-hands breakdowns, and singalong choruses show up in pretty much every track. Resistance is futile. A few moments like “The Whole World Changes” and “Never a Reason” add some ethnic spice, but this is still a very accessible pop-rock record through and through. Believe me, their catchy, anthemic melodies will stick in your head for days.

The band is five brothers (one honorary) from Palacios, the shrimp capitol of Texas, who played together in Houston before recently moving out to LA. Though they may have picked up a little of that LA flair in their sound, they still take their name from a Houston neighborhood — sorry, Cali, that means they’re ours.

Mark Morales’s voice sounds familiar from the start, a mix of the guy from The Black Crowes plus the funny accent of Jethro Tull. It works. Lots of guitar hooks show up, and it’s reassuring to see people in pop still playing that instrument (it’s not just a prop, Avril). Just remember that Astra Heights is made up of brothers, who won’t have to spend a few albums balancing influences before finding their signature sound; this is it. The pieces fit together well and make for a pretty cohesive album.

No new genre is being invented here, no walls being torn down or ground being broken…but so what? This is a fun record to listen to, and these guys bypass the pretentious bullshit to show you what they’re about: just good, clean iRocTM?.

[Astra Heights is playing 3/10/08 at The Mink, with Nicole Atkins & The Sea, Papermoons, & Parlour Mob.]
(Universal Republic Records --; Astra Heights --

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, March 4th, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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