Tuesday, April 25, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 8: Hum - You'd Prefer an Astronaut

Album - You'd Prefer an Astronaut
Artist - Hum
Key Players: Tim Lash - Guitar, Matt Talbot -guitar and vocals, Bryan St Pere - drums, Jeff Dimpsey - bass.
Produced by: Keith Cleversley

Original Release Date: April 11,1995

Overview - You'd Prefer An Astronaut was the third album released the Champaign Illinois band Hum. This was their first on a major label (RCA). On this record you will find the bands biggest "hit" with the single "Stars". The band would garner pretty positive press and be talked about (positively) on Beavis and Butthead, Space Ghost as well as Howard Stern. The band would release a followup to this record but due to disappointing album sales and a lot of changes with the labels (and being dropped in 2000) the band found, after a van accident in Canada to boot, it was time to call it quits. They played their final shows on 12/29/98 in Kansas City and 12/31/98 in Chicago

FDF Comments (the songs): The cd leads off with Little Dipper. There are some vocal effects used but the core of what lies ahead is right here. The wall of guitar sound with some "punched" drums. The engineer loved the crash cymbals as they are mic'd very well and you can almost feel you hair move when Bryan hits them. After the song segueway into "The Pod" the 4x4 drum time then launches the band full force. Stars has the quiet little intro that has you fooled (well it did) in that the guitars are gently strummed until the band comes down hard on that one note. A quick bars worth of strumming continues before the whap whap of the kit sets the song in motion. The defining moment for the song of course is the bridge towards the end. The heavy guitar riff has even the stuffiest of stuffed shirts strapping on their air guitar. The one portion I dig is how Bryan mutes the crash cymbal during this bridge. If you listen you can almost see him reach to the cymbal after beating the tar out of it to "mute" it. Its not the most technical or ground breaking drum move, but its timed so perfectly. I am uncertain if the 2 false starts on the Very Old Man are needed to show the band knows how to "take it down a notch" but the single guitar and vocals provide a drastic change of direction. The more soothing side follows with Why I like Robins, but don't let the smooth bass chug trick you, the band kicks it up a notch and you are reaching for your ear plugs before you know it. I'd Like your Hair Long I'd put up against any of the rock songs you hear on the radio these days. Slick guitar licks, tight driving bass and drums..what the hell is wrong with the listening public?!

Where are they now: Matt formed formed a bad Centaur and he also runs a recording studio. He is married and has 2 children.

Jeff resurrected a side-project from 1997,called National Skyline and from what I can find he is currently living and working in Texas.

Tim formed two groups, Glifted and Balisong. Glfited have released a cd and an ep is in the works. He works for the Unv of Illinois and is married.

Bryan seems to be out of music for the most part. He works in the Pharmaceutical industry and is married with children.

The band has done 2 "reunion" shows. In Aug of 2003 they did a one off at the Furnacefest In Aug of 2005 they played another reunion show headlining the first Rockfest Music Festival in Champaign. Rumors had it that Jeff moved back to Illinois and that the band "may" record again. They played a full set of music to over 3000 fans and that was that..for now??

FDF Personal Comments: I have seen the band live three times. The first is a date unknown as I don't have the ticket stub. Hum played the opening slot at the now defunct Mama Kin Music Hall (yep opened by Aerosmith.
They played the small room with headliner Chris Connolly (of Ministry fame). The room was like a hall way but I was down front getting my groove on. The band had some technical issues but still gave a great set. I went upstairs and met the guys, had them sign Astronaut as well as Electra 2000. The cool part is that my cd was an 'early pressing' so the guys were excited to see I had grabbed it "before" they got bigger. Nice guys for sure. The second was on July 27, 1995 at the The Paradise in Boston. Hum was opening up for the Verve(yes that Verve) it was pre-Bittersweet Symphony and I remember waiting in line outside for ages as the band sound checked. The Verve had stadium set ups for a small club so Hum was running late. They let us in as Hum was leaving the stage post sound check. Guitarist Tim Lash leaned down to fix something on the floor and when he looked up yours truly and 2 buddies were firmly planted in front. Hum was having some success at this point with "Stars" and as you'd imagine that brought the house down. When Hum was done we moved out of the front area and got a beer and hung. The Verve was okay from what I recall but I was there to see Hum. The final time I saw them I was in to taping live shows so I settled mid room at the Middle East in Cambridge on February 27, 1998. Who knew this would be my last time seeing them. I don't think anyone goes to a show and wonders if this is "it" unless of course its a bands farewell tour.

FDF Overall Take: Per the norm (at least with these reviews) you can find this cd for next to nothing in the used and cutout bins. This for me personally was a golden find. I started to really identify with harder music that I also felt was melodic and had a direction. They seemed like your average joes and made some pretty great records during their run. Of all of them I like Electra 2000 the best as it is just a complete package. Hey for a few dollars this is a cd you would not be embarrassed to have in your collection.


At 2:52 PM, Blogger DigMeOut said...

Check out a podcast review of You'd Prefer An Astronaut by Hum on Dig Me Out at digmeoutpodcast.com, a weekly podcast dedicated to revisiting lost and forgotten rock of the 1990s.


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