By Bob Nalbandian

Hate Your Everything
Steel Cage
1.0 EYES

One-note punk rock where every song sounds the same, the singer sounds like Billy Milano, and the record lasts about twenty minutes. There are audible guitar mistakes and a flat, bad-metal-demo production, generating no interest or excitement at all. Their live show had better be pretty f**king incendiary; if I'd paid money for this, I'd be pissed off. Keith Bergman

Sun and Shadow EP

Early 90's alt-rock meets 70's stoner jams on this way-cool, space-addled, soulful demo CD (great sound!) from Birmingham's Astral Tramp. Buckle up, because this is one of those refreshingly rare records that doesn't give all its secrets away like a scabby-kneed whore in the first ten seconds - you're gonna find some blind alleys, secret doorways and hairpin turns on this ride. The disc starts off righteously rockin' with two ravers, "Born To Murder the World" and "Three Names" (the latter a dead ringer for late local heroes Moby Jane!) before slithering between the cracks of your brain for "The Splendid Lights," complete with a "War Pigs" homage in the middle and a heavy-lidded, luded ending that sighs into a piano interlude before the harrowing, heavy riff of "(Caedo Me) Donner Party" kicks in (and do I hear the fire-breathing ghost of a young Ian Astbury, still possessed of long hair and cock-walkin' swagger, on the chorus of this song? Verily, I think I do!) The song also recalls Goatsnake with its earthy blues vibe and doom tone - and then we throttle back for "Walk Alone" to close out the proceedings with a sly space-rock finale dripping with the same acid-pop froth that Novadriver emits when they've been drinking too much water from the lava lamp. If it sounds like I'm just listing a bunch of disparate bands to compare Astral Tramp to, well, I am, because this is a group that's all over the map and not afraid to chuck all the tired categories and "rules" of stoner rock, jam rock, whatever the hell, right out the window. They call to mind a dozen really good bands that you all let slip between your fingers, and while I have no delusions that you won't let it happen again in AT's case, I'm just duty-bound to point out that it's a goddamn shame. A hard record to write about, precisely because it's so easy to shut up to, lending itself to quiet contemplation in the dark, medicated if ya wanna, gradually tumbling through a blacklight headspace into the best good 'n greezy rock and roll enlightenment. You'll get it or you won't. [] Keith Bergman

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