Deastro Moondagger

[Ghostly International; 2009]

Styles: revived new wave, intergalactic shoegaze, electro-pop
Others: New Order, M83, Grizzly Bear remixed

Detroit was once an epicenter of industrial progress and musical milestones; some of the most historic moments in American automotive and musical history happened here. But while the city is historically famous for the Model T and singing-sensation Martha Reeves, it's currently infamous for the car company bailout and nutty councilwoman Martha Reeves. Indeed, the subject matter that's propelled Detroit onto the national news cycle lately has been less than positive. This is a city that’s hurting, and in many people’s minds, the stereotype is that Detroit is either a scary place or a complete joke.

In reality, however, Detroit has some fervent champions willing to stand above the fray. Randolph Chabot, a.k.a. Deastro, is one of them, and his message of hope, pride, and brilliance is delivered within a musical kaleidoscope of intergalactic optimism. He sees the potential good in Detroit, and he protects and defends it in and through his music. This is electro-pop perfection by a guy who faces reality with fantasy, equipped with sword and shield. This isn’t to say that he’s delusional; it's to say that he has a creative side strong enough to make the challenges of Detroit -- and, really, the universe -- surmountable. Although he's been prolifically releasing stuff for the past few years, Moondagger is his first proper full-length and will likely be the introductory release to most people.

And a fitting intro it is. Moondagger stunningly displays Deastro at his best. Musically, it’s a hyper-mix of sounds familiar with an equal dose of distinctive Deastro. Sure you’ll hear traces of Joy Division, New Order, My Bloody Valentine, Brian Wilson, and Steve Reich, but nothing sounds rehashed or contrived. You can almost imagine Bernard Sumner hearing “Kurgan Wave Number One” and nodding in approval or Brian Wilson deciding that the last minute-and-a-half of “Daniel Johnson Was Stabbed...” makes up for those few years he spent locked away in his bedroom wearing his bathrobe all the time.

In addition to the sonic bliss and unbearably catchy hooks, Deastro’s lyrics and subsequent delivery are not at all what you’d expect from a man still in his early 20s. Far from the naval-gazing, self-conscious banality one might expect from such a young artist, Moondagger is filled with moments of philosophical prowess and intelligence. Like WHY?'s Yoni Wolf, Deastro’s lyrical substance and cadence are remarkably witty, introspective, and inventive. On “Greens, Greys and Nordics,” he sings “What would the world look like if God was a woman?/ Would there be sickness and violence?/Would every man be an island?” without even a hint of superiority. These moments occur throughout Moondagger. But where Wolf goes caustic and self-depreciating with his subject matter, Deastro places his high hopes for humanity front and center, underscoring a level of hopefulness and reflection that would make Wolf shrink like a vampire seeing the light of day.

Moondagger begs us to remember the light, and if Detroit can be the birthplace of that kind of message, then anything is possible.

1. Biophelia
2. Parallelogram
3. Tone Adventure #3
4. Toxic Crusaders
5. Greens, Grays, And Nordics
6. Day Of Wonder
7. Pyramid Builders
8. Daniel Johnston Was Stabbed In The Heart With The Moondagger By The King Of Darkness And His Ghost Is Writing This Song As A Warning To All Of Us
9. Rivers Of Life
10. Vermillion Plaza
11. Moondagger
12. Kurgan Wave Number One
13. The Shaded Forests (Gift Giver’s Version)
14. Tree Frog (bonus track)

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