Tonight in Seattle:  

AstroPOP! for July 2005

Gemini {May 21-June 21}
You want to know if you're going to find true love this month? You're asking the big questions this month, Gemini, and I applaud you for it. And I'm guessing that you're onto me — I'm applauding so heartily because I don't really have an answer for you. My usual sources (star charts and Jane magazine) have failed me. So I turn to the excellent new Long Winters cd When I Pretend To Fall (Barsuk) for answers. John Roderick's deceptively complicated song structures contain just as deceptively complicated romantic situations: subtle break-up's, sleepless resignation, to feel love so much you either can't breathe or you breathe fire. The songs crash from emotion to emotion, from the plead of "Cinnamon" to the need of "Prom Night at Hater High." But guess what, Gemini: if the Long Winters can't solve their own romantic problems, how are they going to solve yours? So keep at it, and if you find the answers, please call me.

Cancer {June 22-July 22}
This month you need to concentrate on the details, Cancer. Ask yourself — really ask yourself — which book will you bring to read on the bus? Should you drink your root beer with a straw? Top shirt button: open or closed? Nothing is arbitrary, and the more attention you give the details, the smoother your ride will be. Seattle's Tableland also know the beauty of paying attention to detail. Their self-released full-length Tremulous Elemental (no label) soothes like aloe on sunburn, just in time for long June days. Check out a highlight like "Bested:" slow looped jazz drums under day-dreamy guitar that curls up with hazy trumpet and perking electronics. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Once you make all the right choices, it's easy to bliss out.

Leo {July 23-August 22}
You and your ex? Back together? That's quite a prediction, Leo. When you live inside your own head too long, you're liable to build a first-rate fantasy world. Speaking of, New York's Mercury Boy have spent so much time in their own heads that they have created a futuristic world in which David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Poison, and the Strokes all talk trash on the space bus of desire. New release Get It Goin' (Jafzi Records) has got production bombast to spare but precious little post-90's irony - making for a refreshingly earnest take on glam swagger-rock. Bold if flawed, this cd isn't likely to cause the nation to overdose on the band's artificial reality, but as long as we are talking about alternate realities here, Leo, Mercury Boy's strange mix of laser eyeliner, twin Ronson guitars, and vaguely hippie lyrics makes way more sense than you getting back together with you-know-who. And that's my prediction.

Virgo {August 23-September 22}
Sometimes, Virgo, you don't even need me to tell you how to slip through the sensors. Just look at yourself: taking it easy, driving in the far right lane, staying at home on Saturday nights. You should be listening to Mouthfuls by Chicago's Fruit Bats (Sub Pop) to mellow out even more. "Folk music" in the way that "Landslide" was folk music: it relaxes even as it hints at high drama, but the acoustic guitars, banjo, and mandolin mix with just enough tape loops and synth bursts to say "the sounds of today!" Less trad than Hem and livelier than Kings of Convenience, Eric Johnson and Gillian Lisee's harmonies on "Seaweed" sound sorrowful, sweet, and just relaxed enough. Still, enjoy this calm now, Virgo, because next month — you're getting' the storm.

Libra {September 23-October 22}
I know you're sad, Libra, but it leaves me with little to tell you, since I want to be respectful, and I know you can't just 'snap out of it.' How about some perspective instead? Remember that no matter how sad and depressed you feel, Lisa Germano will always be sadder. That said, despite (or perhaps because of) her melancholia, Germano has been able to write and record six albums of gloomy but gripping music. Her latest, Lullaby For A Liquid Pig (Artist Direct/Ineffable) is Germano at her most disquieting: ranging from hushed ("Paper Doll") to more hushed ("Pearls"), these songs are lullabies you sing to a child who you want to give nightmares to. So imagine telling Lisa Germano "come on, cheer up" and you'll understand the dilemma you've put me in, Libra. Jeez, now I'm depressed. I'm playing this cd again, ok?

Scorpio {October 23 - November 21}
"Party, Life of (the)." That's your definition, Scorpio, without a doubt. Whether it's a tailgater, a kegger, or the Math Club's Carl Gauss Annual Dinner at Red Robin, you adapt to any party situation. And you rock it like all-get-out. Your musical partner in crime this month is Seattle's own Alien Crime Syndicate. Their brand of fist-in-the-air pop-punk puts the 'awww' in 'rawk!' ACS's new ep single for Break The Record (The Control Group) dishes out singalong platters like live versions of the crunch-tastic "Do It Again" and their timelier-than-ever hit "Ozzy." What's more rock than that? How about the crunchiest b-side imaginable, a massive cover of the classic "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Kim Warnick on guest vocals and Duff McKegan on bass! So, Scorpio. Raise one hand because you like Ozzy and the Motley Crue. Raise the other hand because you like Elton John and Kiki Dee. Now that is a formula for a party that even the Math Club can calculate.

Sagittarius {November 22-December 21}
It's the way you speak, Sag, sometimes the things you say just sound cool. I could listen to you over and over again. You remind me of the Lights. Have you heard their new self-titled (and self-released) ep? Yah, it's that good, and remember, I predict stuff for a living. "I Am a Dangerous Snake" is one of the best singles released in Seattle this year. Like yourself, it just sounds cool: slightly distorted vocals, Black Francis lyrics, Jack White guitar. "We are the Victims of the Pleasures of the Sense of Hearing" is arch and arty like early Wire. Ok, you're calling me out on my crush, Sag, but that's fine. At least it keeps you from figuring out that I'm really in love with you.

Capricorn {December 22-January 19}
At long last, Cap, money is about to be funneled directly into your pocket — your bluster and your brazenness have finally paid off. Same with Seattle's Post Stardom Depression — after some record label up's and down's, PSD lunges right at us with Ordinary Miracles (The Control Group) like a big dog just released from a tiny cage. "The Whore I Am" is a snotty f-u that's two parts 70's blooze (Zep, the Nuge) to one part hostile Guns 'n Roses disaffection. "When It Comes To Cars" is sassy like David Lee Roth on two bottles of cough syrup. Ya know, it's really hard to type while I'm making these devil horns with both hands, but that's what this music calls for, and I must answer the call. Post Stardom Depression are about to get paid, and if you listen to their rock and do what they say, Capricorn, then so will you!

Aquarius {January 20-February 18}
So you've embraced the outdoor life, Aquarius? Hiking, rock climbing, camping. That stuff's fine in the daylight, but what do you do when the sun goes down? Leave the campsite for the great indoors, and obey the Dance Commander! Picking up where Andrew WK left off, Detroit's Electric Six slap together schlock-metal with dance punk on their full-length debut Fire. The hilarious "Electric Demons in Love" is bound to be a karaoke classic in 20 years, but I'm not sure about "Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)," which might have been rejected by "Weird" Al Yankovic at some point. I'm not sure, but I think that this another example of is non-irony pretending to be ironic... how high-concept can ya get? Best trick: rhyming "Taco Bell" with "Gates of Hell." So. Is the world ready for a band that sounds like Falco crossed with Kiss crossed with the Scorpions crossed with the Tubes crossed with... oh I give up. Is there room in that sleeping bag for me, Aquarius? I gotta get out in the fresh air!

Pisces {February 19-March 20}
I'll keep it simple. Short words. Brief sentences. Your fleeting attention span is a problem, Pisces. Let's work on it. Listen to 1234567APE, the first ever compilation by the Primate Five (Dizzy Records). Four monkey mask-wearing spazzes, tearing through reverb-heavy, lo-fi punk — no longer than two minutes, no more than three chords. Back in the mid-90's, the P5 were garage when the White Stripes were still sleeping in one. Still with me? Good. Start slow. Just one song at a time, Pisces. Go from "C&H" ("pure cane sugar") to "Button Nose" ("I took her picture, ooh, what a pose!") to "Soylent Green Is Still People" ("what happens to people when they're dead?") Once the Primate Five have your attention, they won't let go, and your concentration problems will be solved. Sure, the P5 may have never learned a fourth chord, but considering they were apes I think they did just fine.

Aries {March 21-April 19}
I get it Aries. You 'just weren't made for these times.' Your vintage clothes are thrift store treasures, you still listen to vinyl, you even handwrite actual letters out of distrust for this whole 'internet' thing. You wear your anachronisms proudly, hmmm, not unlike the self-released ep Clever Love by Peter Fedofsky (no label). Part Pet Sounds, part Beatles For Sale, part Burt Bachrach, the six songs here take a profound love of 60's vocal pop and wrap it up with a frilly 4-part vocal harmony bow. Fellow retro-pop dreamer Ben Folds would have given his bitter little heart to have written a chord progression as earnest and lovely as "The Unwritten Letter." Still, Fedofsky isn't above using the very un-60's lyric "bullshit" in the Geroge Harrison-styled "Silly Boy Dreams," hmmm, not unlike your secret obsession with reality tv. Just a reminder, Aries, that everybody's modern.

Taurus {April 20-May 20}
Your questions are more theoretical this month, Taurus. What is punk? Is the ukelele punk? How about the trumpet? On Paradise Island, the one-woman side project from Erase Errata's Jenny Hoyston, the answer to all these questions is "yes indeed." On the new full-length "Lines Are Infinitely Fine" (Dim Mak) Hoyston breaks it down with tasty lo-fi beats and some primo stuttering ("Came From T-T-Texas"). So, had Paradise Island resuscitated electroclash, or is this some bold new experiment? Sometimes, Taurus, your questions are a little too theoretical. Like the song says, "I Came To Party."

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