By Ian Smith
Another release from the ever-wonderful Little Cloud Records, with a little help from their friends, Cardinal Fuzz. The Asteroid Number 4 has been around for some time now, originating in Philadelphia back in the ‘90’s but now firmly ensconced in San Francisco. The focus has always been ‘60s psyche infused with Spacemen 3-esque dissonance but this offering is different, embracing a more ‘80’s English feel.
Opener ‘All Mixed Up’ is a jaunty little number, oddly recalling The Cure’s ‘Play For Today’ as played by a bunch of ‘60’s noisniks, whilst second track ‘Hand Grenade’ builds slowly before exploding (sorry, I couldn’t resist). ‘Paint It Green’ could fit snugly on any Bunnymen album whilst ‘No One Weeps’ returns to The ‘4’s more traditional roots, dripping psyche from every pore.
As the album progresses, the title seems more and more apt as several bands from the North of England spring to mind. The ‘4 stop off in Liverpool to hang with The La’s before crossing the divide to Manchester to share a pint with The High, whilst forever remaining faithful to The Byrds. It’s a fine collection of songs and sure, it’s derivative. Which does not matter a jot.
Shoegaze is not forgotten. Several tracks feature layered effects and swirls, creating a whoozy ambience indicative of balmy San Francisco nights. The title-track, the aforementioned ‘Paint It Green’, ‘Swiss Mountain Myth’ and closer ‘The After Glow’ are the equal of anything in the back catalogue. The quartet’s best album yet.
Northern Songs is out now on Little Cloud / Cardinal Fuzz. https://cful.bandcamp.com/album/asteroid-no-4-northern-songs