Tag Archives: surf punk

Man or Astro-man? – Defcon 5…4…3…2…1 (2013)

Man or Astro-man? - Defcon 5...4...3...2...1 (2013)

Man Or Astroman? are a band I definitely don’t listen to enough. The surf-punk quartet from Alabama have been in the game since 1990 and this is their 8th album.

While surf may have had its heyday in the 1960s, there has been a revival of sorts since the 1990s with, for example, Los Straitjackets, Messer Chups, The Mermen, Space Cossacks, Satan’s Pilgrims, Atomic Mosquitoes, etc. Man Or Astroman? incorporate punk and electronics seamlessly to create a sci-fi surf sound. With the inherent retro sound of surf, this approach tends to evoke cult B-movies, and exotica.

This album represents a return to studio for Man Or Astroman?, their first album since 2000’s A Spectrum Of Infinite Scale, and it is also a stylistic change as well. Where A Spectrum Of Infinite Scale was really quite an experimental album, Defcon… is a more restrained album. The electronics are still there; most prominently on the five Defcon tracks. On the whole, it is more streamlined and more restrained, a more alt-rock sound overall and nowhere near as kitsch.

So, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it depends on what you are after. I prefer the experimental nature of A Spectrum Of Infinite Scale, and Defcon… doesn’t quite live up to that standard, fun though it is.

Favourite tracks: Communication Breakdown Pt II, Defcon 3, Defcon 1
Spotify link: Man Or Astro-Man? – Defcon 5…4…3…2…1
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Fidlar - Fidlar (2012)

FIDLAR (“Fuck it dog, life’s a risk”) are nominally a punk band from LA, with Punk heritage (the father of two of them was in TSOL), and a pretty laid back attitude.

[Wine critic style review, for no reason whatsoever] I’m getting a bouquet of 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, with a soupcon of Descendants. Also, *sniff*, an undercurrent of British and *sniff* yes, American 90s indie rock. *sip* Strong flavours of *swill* hmmm yes, The Ramones and a multitude of other 70s *spit* punk. There is an aftertaste of Dead Kennedys *gargle* guitars and  a body of The Germs.

Okay, enough of that: here’s my criticism, with this multi-pastiche approach to music, you get an album that isn’t really very cohesive, one minute they’re sounding like the 80s Matchbox B-line Disaster, the next, The Ramones (especially evident on LDA), with a hidden bonus tracks sounding like a cross between the Pixies and Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground; everything sounds like something else, and for that reason, none of it sounds particularly new.

But in the end, none of that really matters. These surf pop-punk tracks are catchy and fun, and you’ll honestly be singing along on your first listen. There is a certain lazy hedonistic quality to the songs, befitting the surf/skate bum and drug/alcohol themes.

Favourite tracks: Whore, 5 to 9, Wake Bake Skate

Spotify link: FIDLAR – FIDLAR
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