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My Day with the Astronauts by Blank Space

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Reviewed on 1st December 2002.

 
 

My Day with the Astronauts

By Blank Space

The opening track to this impressive CD is a polite mellow number with country tendencies. Mainly acoustic guitar and piano with beautiful vocal harmonies and subtle use of percussion, this track shows the talent of the singer songwriter, Alex Dew. "Blank Space is Alex Dew's dream band" says the press release. I can see why, as with the second track 'Are you there?' there is a gorgeous syncopated drum beat throughout and subtle changes in the instrumentation, building the tension.

At this point I must say, I haven't been able to stop listening to this CD. When reviewing I often give the CD a couple of spins and then play it while I'm writing. With this though, I put it in the machine and have had it on repeat pretty much since I received it. It certainly passes the old grey whistle test.

'Limitations' is an upbeat pop rock sing along number. Guitars coupled with swirling synths and driving drums compliments the simple vocal melody well. A very radio friendly three-minute pop song.

The title track of the CD 'My days with the astronauts' is a haunting, sinister affair, but pretty with it and does sound like it's being sung in space. The two part vocals are scarily produced, the reverb adding to the dreamy effect. This is probably the best song on the CD and is a pleasure to listen to. The standout track. It's not necessarily the song you'd want to hear on the radio when you wake up, but its the song that'll hug you at night after a particularly bad day, after an argument with your girl/boyfriend. The whole CD is very melodic and there are country influences with a more modern spacey feel. The press release mentions Bowie, REM, Super Furries and Pink Floyd. But I dunno, you COULD compare this CD to them. But you wouldn't be doing it much justice.

Just when you're getting settled down 'Folk hero demise' is a punky raw number coming in at 1 minute 36 that wakes you from the dream. We're fooled as well by the first 30 seconds, a pretty interlude before a whole lot of swearing. 'Rut' is another standout track, schizophrenic with its minor key verses and major key, warm choruses. Here the songwriting shines and as the song builds to its climax I find myself emitting a warm but anxious sigh. I'd really like to see this band live, see how they play the songs that are so amazingly beautiful on record in a live arena. I can imagine they'd be playing to a load of really unhappy people that need cheering up, and this is their fix.

In 'Wintersun' I can see the Super Furry Animals comparison, mainly in the backing vocals and the general mood of the song. Emotional and still, a feeling of well being nostalgia with a sinister undertone. I particularly like the sampled 'cock a doodle doo' through a distortion pedal at the end. Great stuff. The only thing I could pick out that niggles at the back of my mind is that some of the songs are similar. Not necessarily the songs themselves, but the sounds - the tones of the instruments. But its not a massive problem, as my attention is kept throughout. So. Blank Space. Remember that name, as I reckon they'll do well. They sound a bit like Morcheeba with a bloke singing.

 

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