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Julia Conny 09/25/08 10:29 PM

Astronautalis - Pomegranate
 
Astronautalis - Pomegranate
Release Date: September 23rd, 2008
Record Label: Eyeball Records



It might be the scratchy lounge sway of Andy Bothwell, the mind behind Astronautalis that makes Pomegranate. Or it might be the dramatic and dark pop working itself into majestic layers and transitions. It could even be the glorious verses of tragic philosophical interpretation and historical story telling. So, it's a lot of things, really. That's the immediate beauty of the Eyeball Records full-length: that nothing on Pomegranate can be taken at face value. The lyrics should be combed through with a delicate, open-minded comb. The sound level should be appreciated at the perfect volume of loud. Intricate details should be internalized and analyzed. That's how Pomegranate gets gritty and graceful, but only if you let it.

Heavy percussion matched with hard-hitting piano keys makes songs like "Secrets of the Undersea Bell" powerful and something Tom Waits would toast a bourbon to, maybe even create himself if he could freestyle like Bothwell does on "Two Years Before The Mast". Bothwell's modern edge (like the rapping, the fresh elements and experimentation) is more than a gimmick, and even if it was, he owns it. Other songs like "Mr. Blessington's Imperialist" and "The Story of My Life" spin quick words too, a gonzo journalist sculpting and exposing truths with occasional hallucinogenic qualities. Between the cuts of layering instrumentals and Astro's way with words, Pomegranate comes easy even though it's a complex piece.

Bothwell brings in guests, like the female vocalist Sarah Jaffe on "17 Summers" and "Two Years Before The Mast" or the stylings of MC P.O.S. on "The Story of My Life". Both artists shine just as much as Bothwell. Guess he knows how to pick 'em. These duets give the album a vocal variety and small break from Bothwell's weighty timbre. "The Most Important Track on the Album", which is nearly three minutes of pure silence, does the same but pointlessly.

Many of Pomegranates textures are visual - the bird chirps on "An Episode of Sparrows", the electrified bass on "Trouble Hunters", or the rough strut of closer "The Story of My Life". Organized randomness of bands like Modest Mouse don't fall too far from Astronautalis' tree, but there is a swagger of his own that Bothwell perfects. By the time the album comes to a close, the twists and turns have fallen into place, the themes and morals have made their point, grander plans have revealed themselves, and a listener - in this case: me - are convinced. Convinced of Bothwell, who is rip with emotion but fleshing his tough skin. Convinced of its tumbling, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas groove and production. Convinced of its pounding keys, punctuating questions and exclamation marks into gorgeous lines of romantic defeat. Lines that, as a writer, I swoon over.

This man is a musician of high regard, but he's also an outstanding lyricist. In the space between Pomegranate and me, Andy Bothwell used his timbre to doctor all the good words in the room. Everyone else may be a harder nut to crack, but I'm crumbled.

RIYLTom Waits, The Streets, Atmosphere, The New Yorker, Modest Mouse, Tom Wolfe
Standout Tracks"Trouble Hunters", "The Story of My Life"
Additional InformationAP.net Profile | Myspace | Facebook | Purchase

bitterhalo 09/25/08 10:37 PM

love this album, great review

Julia Conny 09/25/08 10:37 PM

This album is in my top five albums of 2008, easily ... hence the high score. I've been reviewing a lot of things I really like recently, but this album is just so good. I don't think that it's the kind of thing that can be universally liked, or even appreciated, but for those that are into it, I think they'll really love it.

bitterhalo 09/25/08 10:40 PM

have you heard his last album The Mighty Ocean and Nine Dark Theaters? I think pomegranate is overall a better album, but that one was pretty phenomenal as well!

Julia Conny 09/25/08 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bitterhalo (Post 21595421)
have you heard his last album The Mighty Ocean and Nine Dark Theaters? I think pomegranate is overall a better album, but that one was pretty phenomenal as well!


No! I've been so wrapped up in this one, I haven't even thought about it yet. I would have listened to that one first, but I had all these words I had to get down, so I guess it couldn't wait.

Shakriel 09/25/08 11:42 PM

Good review, I've been meaning to check out this album.

Jeremy Aaron 09/26/08 05:38 AM

This is a great album, but the inclusion of "The Most Important Track on the Album" really turned me off. Why put a track on the album that demands to be skipped over?

ddb43 09/26/08 07:53 AM

Great review! I haven't heard this, but I really want to now.

galen 09/26/08 10:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Julia Conny (Post 21596831)
No! I've been so wrapped up in this one, I haven't even thought about it yet. I would have listened to that one first, but I had all these words I had to get down, so I guess it couldn't wait.



the mighty ocean will knock you on your ass.
perfect soundtrack to modern americana.

jasoneyeball 09/26/08 11:17 AM

wow!

Scudder104 09/26/08 11:57 AM

I think the final track, be it a bonus track or what, is the best one on the album. When I first heard it, it kinda sounded like BN's Jesus Christ if it had been remixed.

Heart-A-Tact 09/26/08 12:52 PM

This album is so good. Great review.

sasalukac 09/26/08 02:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scudder104 (Post 21633362)
I think the final track, be it a bonus track or what, is the best one on the album. When I first heard it, it kinda sounded like BN's Jesus Christ if it had been remixed.


you're not talking about "the story of my life", are you?

Julia Conny 09/26/08 03:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jasoneyeball (Post 21629402)
wow!


I'm sure you guys don't need tellin', and you know how much I adore Eyeball, but I think this is my favorite thing of yours that you put out.

Julia Conny 09/26/08 03:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cosmonaut Day (Post 21606521)
This is a great album, but the inclusion of "The Most Important Track on the Album" really turned me off. Why put a track on the album that demands to be skipped over?


I have no clue, but maybe that was the idea.