Ad Astra Per Aspera Catapult Calypso

[Sonic Unyon; 2006]

Styles: caffeine streamlined, filtered through a wacky rock bed, and delivered hastily for a jolt of energy… ZORPITTY DOO
Others: Portugal: The Man, Pigeon, The Lovely Feathers, Pretty Girls Make Graves, We Versus The Shark

It’s rare that a unit with influences you casually loathe ends up being a hit. Such is the case with Ad Astra Per Aspera — translation: “to the stars through hardships” — a group with wayyyyy too many influences to make such bold inroads to my heart. But hey, when I fall, I fall hard, and Catapult Calypso gives me a buzz. Rather than inch ahead cautiously, the five piece indulge in every which whim, and I’m a better listener for it. It doesn’t hurt that they likely got their moniker from reworking the title of psych greats Aspera Ad Astra (later Aspera), either. Nope, it don’t hurt none.

The first track that really grabs the nipple hairs is “Nothing Else is the Real Thing,” and the title couldn’t be more apt considering that you can only get this mélange of Eastern-leaning mystique, rock-a-billy gut-rot, serviceable (translation: meh-plus) vocals, plunky piano, and Minus The Bear breakbeat [HERE->]. Then, as if reading the mind of Gumshoe like a croak-voiced clairvoyant, AAPA slice through redundancy yet again for an incendiary sliver of Eastern influence called “Unnamed Acoustic Songs,” a companion piece to El Guapo’s “Hollywood Crew” if I’ve heard one and an all-around wondrous thicket to romp around in.

From there, all told, things slow down a bit, tracks like “A Fish Would Much Rather Swim” reminding that all is not kosher. ALL IS NOT KOSHER. So where do we go from here? Do we wander through this muck in hope of more crisp, clear wellsprings on the other side of the bog? Well, surrrre, sir; m’am! Things get buckin’ and a-brawlin’ again when “Everybody Lets Me Down” bursts through the saloon door with bow-legged banjo, barroom piano, strings, shakers, and a lovely lil’ guitar progression that anchors the whole track to the side of yer damn skull. It’s cute, but it’ll fawkin’ cut ya.

Look ma, I’m a 28-year-old man and I likes me some music I can rassle with every now ’n’ then, so please, I got it — hang up the other phone line........ I said, HANG IT UP, SHIT, I GOTTA TALK TO MY GURLFRIEND!!! Damn ... well, mom doesn’t understand this stuff, and I probably won’t seek out music this unabashedly randy-dandy, razzle-dazzle, and willy-nilly when I’m dropping Depends deuces and eating straight Gerber, but for now it really juices my gulliver, so MUCH so in fact I’m not sure what I’ll do next. A fabled, highly fictitious “Mackinaw” it ain’t, but Catapult Calypso is quite a peach.

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