Monday, December 5, 2016

SMASH MOUTH-Astro Lounge (1999)


At last, my alternative rock music gets some love after my ears have endured a long period of silence with it. Digging deeper into the 'S' artists in my collection, I thought it was due time for some SMASH MOUTH (I've always liked that name; it's got some punch and character to it), the California-based outfit widely recognized for one THE definitive radio hits of the late 90's: "All Star". Naturally, I made that the first track I treated my ears to when I took out their "Astro Lounge" album, and in an instant, my mind was catapulted back in time to when the alternative rock genre altogether had just about started to grab my attention. Anybody and everybody who's listened to the radio or watched TV within the past decade-and-a-half knows most of the colorful lyrics to the catchy memorable chorus all too well—' hey now, you're a rock star, get your game on, go play..... '—with ne of my other favorite lines being the contradictory 'your brain gets smart, but your head gets dumb'. "All Star"—the song's been like the go-to anthem for seemingly just about everything that's cool, hip and trendy in popular culture, even finding its way onto the soundtrack of the animated film "Shrek". And now it's found it's way back into my mental jukebox, where lead singer's Steve Harwell's distinctively punk rock-spirited vocals and the unforgettable 'whistle melody' between the verses will surely remain for at least the next foreseeable day or so. Further adding to that cause is the pair of other memorable SMASH MOUTH hits from this album. There's "Then The Morning Comes", which too has been on the radio airwaves for ages and one that, for the longest time, I hadn't even realized was a SMASH MOUTH least this version of it, anyway; the funky, tripped-out groove and the hazy, hypnotic ambiance created by the bells must've masked my initial recognition of Harwell and company well. As with "All Star", just about every radio listener remembers most of the words to this one all the same: ' just the way you talk, like it ain't no thang ', and that colorful bit about the Paparazzi. And the one that I'd nearly forgotten about altogether: the band's remake of the 60's classic, "Can't Get Enough Of You, Baby". Don't recall the original very well, but I will forever instantly recognize it from those organ riffs playing in the chorus and throughout the song, getting into the 'feel like dancing mood' every time I hear it. Yet besides that aforementioned trio of 'smash hits', I get even more kicks when the band cranks up the energy on power-packed head-bangin' jams like "Radio" and "Diggin' Your Scene"; haunting tunes like "Fallen Heroes" (perhaps the strongest vocal performance delivered by Harwell here) and the acoustic guitar-driven "Waste"; and the delightful reggae story "Road Man" (almost too short for my taste, even with the trumpet instrumental making the music even merrier midway through). "Astro Lounge" is a fun reminder that alternative rock still has its charm and rightful place in this eclectic and ever-changing world of music, and so does the California-based band who released it:

1. Who's There?
2. Diggin' Your Scene
3. I Just Wanna See
4. Waste
5. All Star
6. Satellite
7. Radio
8. Stoned
9. Then The Morning Comes
10. Road Man
11. Fallen Heroes
12. Defeat You
13. Come On Come On
14. Home
15. Can't Get Enough Of You, Baby

1 comment:

Days of Broken Arrows said...

This brings back some serious memories. When '90s nostalgia hit, it hit hard. That said, this group released a song in 2001 called "Pacific Coast Party" that flopped, but is my favorite song by them. They were sort of expanding into more of a dance groove and it didn't work out commercial, but I think artistically they were totally on the mark.