Perfect Pop Records

Perfect Pop Records

POP66 – Luna Kafé

Lightyears Behind
Perfect Pop Records

Here’s Perfect Pop’s second offering of this moonth. Astroburger is one of the real veteran bands coming out of the new underground pop movement in Oslo of the late 1980s and 90s. They released their debut single in 1988. I think I had my first close encounter with the band 23 years ago about this moonth. There were three bands on the bill. The support act was a young and very noisy gang from Trondheim called Motorpsycho, then a jingly jangly lightweight and charming Astroburger while Turbonegro headlined, some years before Hank von Helvete joined the band. Well, Motorpsycho by now is about the most respected and established band in Norway and to some extent abroad. Turbonegro has a huge and loyal following all over the globe. But what happened to Astroburger?

Well, they have kept a lower profile than the two others and have mainly been faithful to the Oslo underground for all these years. Of course they have played gigs out of town, recorded an album in Italy and so on. But on the whole, they are a proof of life’s unfairness. Astroburger’s songs are by no means inferior compared to the ones by Motorpsycho or Turbonegro. But commercially they are lightyears behind. The instrumentation has been pretty stable throughout the years (two guitars, organ, drums and bass), but the band has been through too many line-up changes for anyone to keep account of. Gerry Monostratos aka Geir Stadheim is the only remaining original member. But then in many ways Geir is Astroburger. He is the main song writer, main vocalist and second guitarist. Last week saw a very amusing release party for Lightyears Behind. Good to see them live and kicking again, the first time for some years for me. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them live by now. The most memorable was probably when Geir had a severe back problem. He didn’t want to cancel and was lying on his back on a table (or maybe it was the floor?) throughout the gig singing and playing his guitar!

Lightyears Behind is about the band’s album number 8,5 (including one split LP and a couple of compilations). The previous album was They Came From The Sun… in 2006 and two of the three who recorded that album seem to still be on board the five men strong 2013 line-up. In addition to the albums, Astroburger must be one of the Norwegian strongest seven inch single bands, not least due to the 12 singles series released – more or less – each month in 2001.

Astroburger is a bit more rock oriented than your average Perfect Pop group. No mean rock, not at all. But whereas the majority of PP artist might be into pure pop or pop-rock, I guess Astroburger’s music fit somewhere between pop-rock and rock-pop. The description garage-fuzz-pop-rock with a twinkle in the eye from our last encounter with the band still seem valid. Before the release party of the new album, some of the Lunar staff gathered and we mentioned our fears that Astroburger by now might have turned into a too well-oiled precise little combo and forgotten about that charming jangly expression of previous years. Well, today’s members are certainly better musicians than the band I witnessed 23 years ago, but haven’t lost its charm. There is something about Geir’s voice and appearance… Luckily! On Lightyears Behind the band is at the best when they mix a few drops of melancholia into the potion. There are several great examples of that kind of blend here, for instance “Call It Landslide”, “Deeds” and my favourite of the album “In London”. Also twangy guitar numbers like the short and snappy instrumental title track, “House Of Mirrors” and the mystically titled “Black Pop” work very well. These are to some extent inspired by instrumental guitar groups of the early 1960s (Shadows, Dick Dale And The Del-tones etc.). Great fun! And there’s also that melancholic little uncredited instrumental at the end of the album…

Astroburger is certainly back! The album is available both on analogue vinyl and different digital formats. Let’s hope it’s less than seven years till the next album arrives.

Copyright © 2013 JP

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