[This is a Repost from 2006 + some new additions].
My old favorite band from Philly, Asteroid #4, used to be this weird whimsical band in the vein of late ’60s psychedelia. They put on fantastic shows and put out a great album (Introducing….The Asteroid #4) in 1998. I discovered them when a friend and I showed up at the record release party for Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, which was held at the Trocadero, the best place to see live music in Philly. The band (Asteroid #4) were four typical college-looking guys who launched into spasmotic space rock, even introducing a flute player at one point. They had totally ridiculous lyrics and deadpan faces. It was loud, melodic, with lots of feedback. It was actually pretty funny.
I saw them a few more times but lost track once they veered into a cul-de-sac of imitation; they started getting obsessed with mid-period Byrds, especially the canon of Gram Parsons. It’s not that I don’t like Parsons’ music, but more that it was a tired move for them, and they didn’t do it very well. However, at some point, they made their way back to Spacemen 3-influenced music, and from what I can tell they have two albums about to come out this year (2012), which by my count would be albums number 8 and 9.
One thing that was lost in the shuffle through their albums was their one-off non-album single from 1995, “The CIA Took My Dog Away”b/w “Mellow Beach,”two spectacular tracks that perfectly encapsulate a kind of false nostalgia for never-really-existed late ’60s English psychedelia. Lots of killer melodies, fake British accents, Traffic-like folk, and Syd Barrett-era weirdness, and throw in some My Bloody Valentine-guitar, and you have these songs. They never did anything quite as good after these couple of songs, which unfortunately remain unreleased on CD, although they are featured on an mp3-only collection of singles, b-sides and rare tracks that is available from their website here. For just $8, you get a 21 songs (!) covering all this early period Asteroid #4. It’s a total bargain. Although I should say that the real treat is, however, their debut album, Introducing…, which is a bona fide space rock classic. They make no pretensions to be original, but they take their alien mythology very seriously. Get the debut here.
I’m posting two mp3s here which, I hope, the band won’t mind.
Long Live Philadelphia.