Repetitiously providing some truly striking times with their own songs, UK trio Calling All Astronauts do it again by giving an insight into the sounds and artists which have lit their individual fires through their new release, the Influences EP. Offering four tracks simply echoing the EP title, the threesome of vocalist/programmer David B, guitarist J, and bassist Paul McCrudden take on four highly familiar, indeed legendary songs with their instinctive imagination and sound. The result is a hell of a lot of fun and a release which pays enterprising homage in unique style.
West London based, Calling All Astronauts create a fiery mix of alternative rock, electro punk and numerous other flavours in a sound which is truly individual to the band. The question for us when news of their new release broke was would it transfer to songs which pretty much everyone knows and so many idolise and more so could they give them a new character rather than just replicate like so many bands do with covers. The answer was soon escaping the speakers with pretty much a loud vocal yes. Certainly the band has not dissected and reassembled the songs in their own ‘image’ but each has been given a deep makeover which sparks the imagination.
Described as more of a quadruple A-side single, Influences opens up with a glorious version of Tubeway Army’s Are ‘Friends’ Electric?. From its first breath there is a sense of urgency to the track if one initially restrained. When it does free its shackles, it brings a drum and bass meets metal contagion to its zealous stroll, though keys still shimmer with the original’s elegant yet melancholic gait; the contrasting attacks perfectly merged by CAA in one delicious encounter. You cannot say that the band has eclipsed Gary Numan’s creation but they have certainly given it a new energy and breath which deserves to be pushed as a full standalone single.
Following it is a take on the T-Rex classic Metal Guru. Here CAA has taken the essences of the song and immersed them in their own atmospheric invention. Whereas they pumped up the first, its successor has been slowed to allow its shadows and dark shades to dance with the imagination. We will admit that at first the song did not quite catch with ears but over time it has made a compelling persuasion and will surely emerge as a favourite for a great many within the release.
With a song like Scary Monsters it is hard to redesign what is an almost perfect template so CAA don’t but they do inject Bowie’s gem with their own dark intent and electro instincts to elevate its raw captivation and rock rabidity resulting in another thumping slice of rock ‘n’ roll with a fresh tang and organic energy where shadows seem even more alive.
Finally the release sees CAA give an electro/post punk work out for Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water. To be honest this is a song which never lit our fires but CAA have more then made it far more palatable with the flames of J’s guitar searing the growl of McCrudden’s bass and the electronic infused punk ‘n’ roll both court.
We always love to hear influences taken on by artists, a treat which seemed to grace many a B-side back in the day, just a shame so many do not try to bring something of themselves to them just as Calling All Astronauts have magnetically done.
The Influences EP is released March 30th via Supersonic Media.
Pete RingMaster 28/03/2018
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