Give It A Spin: Astronauts etc.’s MIND OUT WANDERING

Weirdly, there’s been a lot of good music released in the last couple of weeks that I’ve added to 2015 in Music; including new music from Gary Clark Jr, Jay Rock, and Mac Miller. Plus, I’ve been singing “Plastic Bag” to myself since last Sunday care of Drake & Future’s What a Time To Be Alive. But we’re here to talk about Astronauts etc.

I caught wind of Astronauts etc. (Anthony Ferraro) by way of his “Rocket Man” cover with Toro Y Moi. Apparently, Ferraro and Chaz Bundick met by chance in 2012 at the cafe where Ferraro was then working. That lead to a spot in the band on tour with Toro Y Moi, and a creative push for Astronauts etc. to complete the wonderful Mind Out Wandering.

The album gets off to a bright, cautiously optimistic start with “If I Run” and “Place With You”, both of which are about going or wanting to go to new places with a certain someone and the energy that comes with it before slowing down and settling in with “No Justice” and “I Know”.

“Place With You” reminds me of the longing in “All of Me Wants All of You” from Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, released earlier this year; and if not a brighter Carrie & Lowell then you could look at Mind Out Wandering as a West Coast In The Lonely Hour, the introspective meditation on relationships from Sam Smith that was one of the best albums from 2014.

“I Know”, “Eye to Eye”, and “Shake It Loose” all find space on my Summer’s Over playlist, and as a whole the album speaks to the same feelings that accompany the waning hours of daylight and dissipating excitement for newness that is inevitably doused by dying leaves and impending winter.

The guitar and melody on “Shake It Loose” sound most like Continuum era John Mayer, and in a lot of ways this is the direction I wished Mayer went instead of whatever Country nonsense he ended up falling into. On it, Ferraro sings “Listen to my careful words / See through them, and signal to me that you heard / What I can’t say / Tangled up inside my head / I need to shake it loose, try to forget / Why you’re away.”

Though things haven’t gone so well halfway through the album, “Up For Grabs” finds Ferraro hopeful for a moment before things slow way down again on the insecure “Control”, which is lead by Ferraro’s voice and backed only by heavy keystrokes on the piano before being joined by guitar and percussion. What feels like a short song due to the long lead in is then actually cut short, jumping right into the upbeat “See You” and the closer “Upward Swing”, where after finally getting what he was after Ferraro wonders, “What if she caught me on an upward swing?”

Mind Out Wandering is easy listening on the harsh realities of new relationships. It starts and stops, it’s up and down, and the emphasis on live instruments make it that much more visceral. Ferraro as Astronauts etc. is able to express the loneliness and doubt that lingers even when you may have found something worthwhile, without getting too down or discouraged. He’s always questioning if his love is real, or if there’s something more to know, because he definitely doesn’t have it all figured out.

I’ve found it good in the morning, great in the evening, and not bad in the background while cooking and showering (not at the same time). The album is streaming on Spotify, but the vinyl is available via Hit City USA’s website, and I might just cop that along with a new record player.

[Photo via NPR]

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