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For three, maybe four years, Anthony Ferraro has been releasing music under the aptly-named moniker Astronauts, etc. In that time, he’s primarily focused on creating cascading dream-pop and R&B-infused electro-pop, such as on his awesome 2013 single “Coldboy”. In his spare time, he moonlights as the keyboardist in Toro y Moi‘s touring band, leaving little time to fully focus on his own project – until now.
Last Friday, Ferraro released his long-awaited debut, Mind Out Wandering. The album builds on the dreamy soundscapes that Ferraro has mastered both as a solo artist and by working closely with Toro y Moi as well as his constant forays into modernizing the lush soft rock of the ’70s and ’80s. The two styles collide on the opener, “If I Run” and later on “Control”, two piano-driven ballads that percolate with the sound of the LA music scene of those eras. This sound is further heightened on the romantic and smooth “No Justice”, is a stellar track that takes a contemporary spin of a familiar sound by adding an electronic layer of subtle beats and echos while also quickly quickening the pace of the plucking on the electric guitar.
The smashing “I Know” further echos of the ’70s yet Ferraro adds an extra layer of dreaminess. It’s not just his Barry Gibb-like vocals (granted Ferraro’s voice never reaches the high pitches of Gibb), but Ferraro’s production is superb, melding together the synths, keys, guitars, cymbals, and bass into a single, coherent ensemble. Whereas “I Know” is breathless, “Eye to Eye” is a swaying bopper with its groovy, electro-pop and R&B rhythms. The bass line on this track is terrific and reaches nearly ethereal status.
At the centre of the album is its highlight, “Shake It Loose”. It’s the one single on the album that encapsulates Ferraro’s entire solo career – electronic rhythms, pop melodies, and a funky vibe that support his unique and terrific voice. The song feels like it could stand alongside with Chicago’s early work yet be spun in one of Soho’s hip clubs. Where Ferraro deviates slightly is on the pulsating “See You”. It echoes more of Ferraro’s earlier works as well as that of his friend and collaborator Chaz Bundick with its cool grooves and tempo that would perfectly be situated in a mid-80s club.
Ferraro does return back to the album’s heart and soul on the final track, “Upward Swing”. Like a warm blanket on a cold day, the song is delicate and completely envelopes you as Ferraro sings about overcoming a broken relationship and waking up to a new day. The song in many ways personifies the entire album – about embracing the past in order to for something new and hopefully brilliant to happen in the present and future. Mind Out Wandering is just that – a sublime debut that transports a familiar sound into the present day.
Astronauts, etc. is the project of Anthony Ferraro, and he’s supported by Scott Brown (bass), Derek Barber (guitar), Aaron Gold (drums), and Doug Stuart (keys, vocals).
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