The Asteroid No. 4 Still Shoots Through The Night Sky

It’s been 15 years since Sounds of Psychedelphia caught The Asteroid No. 4 plummeting toward us, but on the space/time continuum, that moment is separated from this by but a blink of an eye.  They’ve moved, to San Francisco, which of course makes sense, since they comprise the entire narrative of psychedelic bands, from the Acid Tests to Marin and back, grokking country music along the way, only to return to tuneful folkrock roots. Ah, but they never fully leave the land of psychedelia.

The new album is simply called Asteroid #4, though it’s A4’s eighth, and it’s a beaut.  It has enough sitars to get Anton Newcombe smiling, even though his record label no longer puts their music out.  On this one A4 can invoke a lysergic afternoon (“Mount Meru”), and come back with a radio-perfect pop song like “Ropeless Free Climber,” which is so pure you can imagine Alex Honnold psyching himself up with it before clabbering up the Half Dome.

Look, for a decade and a half The Asteroid No.4 have undemonstrably plied the land as one of our great bands.  They have not lacked musical ambition, they just haven’t been careerists. Which is only one of the reasons you may not previously have genuflected before them, which you should do right now. They may even have a bit of a perverse streak, letting loose their country inclinations just when touring with the Brian Jonestown Massacre should have locked in their relationship with the kids who came for “Anemone.”  On The Asteroid #4, the band serves up something for everyone: those who want the trance rock to throb, and those who love ’em because they hear echoes of the Byrds.

We love ’em because they never disappoint, and eight albums in, The Asteroid #4 is a delight.

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