Man or Astro-man? is a surf rock group that formed in Auburn, Alabama, in 1992 and after twelve years have released a new album. The twelve song album reunites core members Birdstuff (drummer Brian Teasley), Coco (bassist Robert DelBuerno) and Star Crunch (guitarist/vocalist Brian Causey) after reuniting for a tour in 2010. The new album was recorded with longtime Astro copilot, Steve Albini in Chicago, IL and also with Daniel Farris of Denial Labs in Birmingham, AL.
Album opener “Defcon 5” is a pretty heavy track with the surf sound getting beefed up and still sounding great. “Antimatter Man” is a vocal track with a definite punk rock edge that I just loved as soon as the song started. “All Systems to Go” is more in the surf rock style and locks into a tight groove that gets you moving. “Disintegrate” is another vocal track that gets your feet tapping and has a hook that will get stuck in your head. “Defcon 4” is a keyboard track that would have fit in on a techno album, but I still liked it a lot. “Codebreaker Seventy Eight” would sound fantastic in a surfer video, watching them catch some giant waves would be a great combination with this song. “Communication Breakdown Pt. II” has some deft guitar playing and vocals with some echo and a cool spacey sound that added to the song. “Defcon 3” is a great classic surf guitar song that I turned up loud and then listened to it again…so good! “Electric Arc” is a great new wave song that brought me back to my youth in the ’80s and was my favorite song on the album. “Defcon 2” sounded like a combination of a techno song and something that you would hear in a soundtrack to a movie. “New Cocoon” is another vocal song that was a slow burner, lots of tension and a sense of closeness. “Defcon 1” was a nice mash-up of every style on the album and was a great ending to a varied, but great album.
After all this time was it worth the wait? Yes it was. An album filled with songs that you would expect and songs that will surprise you, to me, that’s the mark of a band that wants to challenge themselves and give their fans more than a rehash of what came before. With all the styles on here, something will grab you, something might not, but give this album a chance to surprise you, especially with all the vocal tracks that they did this time.