Junior Astronomers
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Junior Astronomers

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Rock Punk

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Junior Astronomers are an indie rock band hailing from Charlotte, NC. The four-piece have released two EPs before getting their new full-length, Dead Nostalgia, into the hands of their audience on July 23. Consisting of 12 songs, the band commands the listener’s attention with their howling vocals, interwoven guitar pieces and bass and drums that hold out the rhythm. My favorite track off Dead Nostalgia is “Touching War.” Melodic riffs are strummed until singer Terrence Richard’s punk-like vocals take over. Catchy is the best word to describe this cut, with infectious guitars and a vocal hook that doesn’t seem to get old. The drums stand out on the track as well and continue to impress on “Before Crimes” and “Gimmicks.” “GIV’ER” starts off with a heavy dose of tom, snare and cymbal work. Richard’s vocals are followed along by a backup singer’s, as the drums continue to impress throughout the song.

There is a common recurrence on the record in which the band alternates between slower-paced verses and upbeat choruses. “Little Sister, Little Dog” is another great tune off the record that continues the slow and upbeat variation. The chorus is dominated by arpeggiated riffs and punk rock screams. Punk influences can be heard in songs like “Neighbors” and “Blood In Her Brain.” It’s this combination of melodic but quick guitar playing, explosive drums and raw vocal style that give Junior Astronomer their distinct sound.

As a fan of both indie and punk rock, this was an enjoyable album to listen to. Dead Nostalgia is an impressive full-length from this young group. They know their musical style, know who their fans are, and deliver in a big way.

In A Word: Impressive - The Aquarian Weekly


When Charlotte's Junior Astronomers repurpose emo-leaning post-hardcore from the likes of Cursive or Modest Mouse, it's far from rehash city. In fact, their latest video tips it hat to sunny indie pop, but you can expect more urgency on their new LP Dead Nostalgia out now via Broken Circles.

Dig on the new video for "Before Crimes," which depicts a pensive skateboarding crew tearing through the city while images flash behind them, and look for Junior Astronomers on the road with O'Brother/Daylight. - Noisey/Vice


Nashville Indie Icons The Weeks love them, so what else do you really need to know? Self-described as "gritty and jangled on some occasions, mangled and diverting on other", Junior Astronomers are just plain badass. Their recently released debut full-length album, Dead Nostalgia, is full of serious rock laced with heavy guitar, raw vocals and never-feels-forced rhythm. Basically, think Nirvana if they were Southern and emerging today. - Nylon Guys


Even though straight-up emo is a minefield of clichés that any self-respecting band should avoid like the plague, Junior Astronomers navigate its traitorous terrains astoundingly, managing to dodge its trip-ups with surgical precision. Much like Sunny Day Real Estate (but not in the way that's been done to death) their music contains hints of Joan of Arc and Make Believe without mathy hero-worship or tired cred-calls. Junior Astronomers reference the sounds of Cursive and do it up right. Think the best of Domestica without the worst of Mama, I'm Swollen or I Am Gemini. This band has a profound understanding of what made emo awesome and, perhaps more importantly, what eventually made it awful. Who would have thought it possible? Well executed, passionate, and relevant emo in 2013.

Junior Astronomers consists of Philip Wheeler on guitar, vocalist Terrence Richard, bassist Colin Watts, and drummer Elias Wittman. The band recorded Dead Nostalgia with Kris Hillbert at Legitimate Business, a recording studio and former DIY show space in Greensboro, NC. Though the band has a history of performing and recording at LB, they're actually from Charlotte. Dead Nostalgia, meanwhile, sounds closer to the kind of records that came out of Chapel Hill in the early 90’s. In fact, Junior Astronomers recently opened for CH royalty Polvo. They have also shared the stage with Des Ark, Cursive, and HRVRD. Richard's voice jolts between an Archers of Loaf slur and an At-the-Drive-In belt. Angular riffs and feverish rhythms give Dead Nostalgia a classic indie, post-hardcore charm.

The album kicks off with the explosive “Before Crimes”. Richard's charismatic vocal comes through in spades. The band is tight, their months spent tracking and re-tracking really showing. In particular, the first few songs on this record are precisely realized. The melody on “Touching War” is catchy, a good representation of Dead Nostalgia’s overall appeal.

All these tracks are solid, perhaps bordering on too consistent. While “Blood in Her Brain”, “Neighbors?”, and the title track are all effective, they likewise stick to one thing. This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, nothing hinders the momentum of this record. On the other hand, once you've gotten a handle on Junior Astronomers’ sound they offer few surprises. The closer, “GIV'ER” is their most dynamic song. Its barrage of drums drops into clean guitars before exploding into raging aggression. The song ebbs and flows into a strong ending.

Junior Astronomers’ 2010 EP I Just Want to Make a Statement is considered to be their breakthrough. “Settle Down” is their well-deserved “hit”. In the years since these highlights, Junior Astronomers has earned a devout following, selling-out venues in their hometown as well as NYC's famed Mercury Lounge. Dead Nostalgia is sure to please their fans. The stage is now set for Junior Astronomers to make their statement. Touring extensively this summer, the band will appear at Maine’s Kahbang! Festival this August. Dead Nostalgia is available on vinyl, CD, and, of course, digitally.

-Eric White
- Fabricoh Magazine


Junior Astronomers is an exceptional indie rock band out of Charlotte, NC. Touring continuously, after releasing the well-received EP, I Just Want to Make a Statement, the band decided mid-2012 that it was time to take a break from the road and get back into the studio. The result is Dead Nostalgia, twelve rocking songs that will get you up grooving then knock you back on your ass.

You can hear a lot of different influences in Junior Astronomers music. Bands like The Replacements, Pavement, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam, and The Pixies come to mind but Junior Astronomers retains a unique sound. Dead Nostalgia is a record I could imagine listening to in 1995 but as a testament to the bands abilities it doesn’t sound dated at all.

Frontman Terrence Richard owns an intense and powerful voice that never relents throughout Dead Nostalgia. Similar to Eddie Vedder in that some listeners might feel the vocals are closer to screams at times. There is a raw honesty in his delivery that really makes this record work.

The thrill is always in the groove and the band does not disappoint. Drummer Elias Pittman, guitarist Philip Wheeler, and bassist Colin Watts deliver the goods. Creating a thick sound with a pounding beat that is a perfect match to Richards driving vocals.

Key tracks are “Lissalla,” “Vibrator,” “Before Crimes,” “GI’VER,” and “Touching War.”

Dead Nostalgia is a brilliant indie rock album. The boys from North Carolina have really put together something special with their debut record and I highly recommend checking it out. - Speaker Creatures


Junior Astronomers
Dead Nostalgia
Broken Circles Records [2013]
Score: 8/10



Fire Note Says: Junior Astronomers’ debut Dead Nostalgia is a punkish step towards greatness.

Album Review: Junior Astronomers is a punk band from Charlotte, NC. They leave the Southern fried on the side and go full punk (with some mainstream influences) on their debut album Dead Nostalgia. True to the punk spirit most of the songs are growled or screamed. Guitars are frenetic – bass and drums provide the beat to use when banging your head.

“Before Crimes” is sparse with rat-a-tat drums and longing vocals. Guitar work is seemingly on a loop and adds layers to the song without distracting. Standout “Blood In Her Brain” lets the guitars take center stage; they’re relentless and pounding. I got exhausted just listening to the song. It would’ve been nice to follow this heartpounder with something less intense and fast-paced, but you get no such reprieve with “Vibrator.” That relief does come with “Retrofit” and the song stands out because of its contrast to the rest of the album. It’s still heavy on the distortion and sounds dirty in general, but doesn’t have the pedal-to-the-metal mentality of the rest of the album, save the last few tracks.
Dead Nostalgia brings the energy and intensity for all twelve tracks, at a total 39 minutes. While Junior Astronomers (great name by the way) have their style defined and honed, they sometimes get trapped in the same box or formula. Balancing the album could’ve made the listening experience more even. The album is backloaded with tracks that allowed me to catch my breath. Varying pace or intensity may provide some improved listenability to their next outing, which I hope doesn’t take too long. That intensity no doubt would play well in front of a live audience too.

Key Tracks: “Before Crimes,” “Retrofit,” “Blood In Her Brain”

Artists With Similar Fire: The Stooges / Television / Two Door Cinema Club - The Fire Note


Charlotte, NC’s hardcore loyalists Junior Astronomers have just released their debut record, Dead Nostalgia, on Broken Circles Records. Capturing the proto-punk spirit of their musical ancestors, while still maintaining an anchor in modern rock sensibilities, the band has infused this album with the raucous spirit of youthful exuberance, with a deliberate heart-on-sleeve swagger. But rest assured, everything on Dead Nostalgia is turned up to 11. Guitars shoot out classic spitfire riffs and chords like they were being fed from a gun belt, and the thudding, acrobatic drumming keeps the songs moving toward some fixed point on the horizon.
But while the band’s influences are easy to spot (you’d be blind not to hear The Stooges’ feral rhythms and Television’s viciously melodic guitar assaults all over the album), Junior Astronomers never slide into rote imitation of their musical antecedents. By integrating traditional punk attitudes with a more modern hardcore intensity, they seamlessly blend these interrelated rock ancestries and show that bands separated by decades are joined by a communal lineage. Expertly threading complex rhythms and unhinged vocals, courtesy of singer Terrence Richard, with the band’s natural post-hardcore leanings, Dead Nostalgia is the uncompromising antidote to all the toothless rock records which litter the modern rock landscape. - Beats Per Minute


Charlotte, NC rockers Junior Astronomers are set to release their debut LP, Dead Nostalgia, on July 23rd via Broken Circles Records. Having already recorded a handful of EP’s over the past few years, the band brought on producer Kris Hillbert to man the boards for their debut full-length. Combing through the thickly, rhythmic aesthetic of their earlier material, Hillbert and the band fashioned a set of songs that were fiercer and more concise–and felt indebted to punk pioneers like The Stooges and MC5. But the songs also feel drawn from more recent, melodic hardcore bands like At The Drive-In and The Blood Brothers. This seamless integration of modern and traditional punk values gives Junior Astronomers’ music a sense of standing outside of the genres which birthed them, of feeling apart of and separate from their influences.
The band has recently released the latest single from Dead Nostalgia, the frenetic and slightly unhinged “Lisalla.” Pairing singer Terrence Richard’s feral vocals with a rhythm section that could tear down mountains, Junior Astronomers spike the song with a proto-punk vitriol that feels reminiscent of Television’s Marquee Moon or Go Girl Crazy by The Dictators. The band shears away all artifice and is left with a savage churn that comes charging straight out of the speakers, delivering a well-deserved gut punch to their modern rock peers.
Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the latest track, “Lisalla,” from Junior Astronomers’ upcoming debut LP. - Beats Per Minute


"For all its youthful fuss and frenzy, this high-fructose Charlotte quintet plays like a band almost twice its age. Experienced but not yet jaded, well-rehearsed but never, ever choreographed, its raucous live shows are akin to hearing Ted Leo being played by lads years younger than The Black Lips. If you haven’t yet explored Junior Astronomers’ shambolic, hook-laden universe, now’s the perfect time. The pains of being pure at heart are nothing next to the joy this truly young-at-heart group offers. Take Sinatra’s cue: Come out and be among them." - Free Times


One of Charlotte’s most exciting up-and-coming indie rock acts, Junior Astronomers have found a second home here in Columbia, thanks in large part to Bakari Lebby’s BreakEdge series, which celebrates its one-year anniversary tonight. The quintet recently signed to Favorite Gentlemen, home to bands like Manchester Orchestra and All Get Out; like the aforementioned, Junior Astronomers are loud and personal, but Terrence Richard’s street-prophet ramblings and the band’s whip-smart frenzy sets it apart from the at times stale Favorite Gentlemen hallmark sound. Lebby and Alejandro Florez spin after Junior Astronomers’ set. P. Wall - Free Times


If you haven’t heard of Junior Astronomers already… well, you’re probably one of many. That’s not to say though, that now that I have your attention you shouldn’t check them out. If my word isn’t enough, perhaps this will serve as better incentive – you choose your price to buy their new EP. Not sure if you like them? Download it for free, and should you fall in love with them, you can donate to keep them going (unsigned bands are perhaps the least financially secure endeavors in the known universe). As it happens, Junior Astronomers’ I Just Want to Make a Statement is worth any price you might decide to pay for it.
Soundwise, Junior Astronomers put to rest the commonly held belief that indie is dull by nature. These Charlotte, North Carolina natives are catchy and calculated, but also loud and impulsive, like Ted Leo being played by Bloc Party. The band is particularly skilled at fusing rambunctious indie rock with more subtle musical motifs. For example, the second half of “Dying Rhythms” sounds like this generation’s take on surf rock, with a little bit of what sounds like what Sean Connery-era James Bond theme music. The song is accentuated by jungle-esque basslines that emphasize bassist Colin’s playing. “Settle Down” is as provocative as it is noisy, in the sense that it makes you want to accomplish something. The repetition (repetition of lines is something Junior Astronomers do tastefully and effectively) of the line “I’ll teach you how to settle down” is like reverse psychology. The band is also skilled at creating atmosphere within their songs. This premise is apparent in “Fox and the Hound” which does a lot with space to make the song that much more dynamic. Eli’s drumming is tight, and it uses a lot of subtleties to add to the songs, and Jeff and Philip’s guitar lines are layered in a way that yields the same result. The closing track, “Bad Bones”, is particularly impressive, simply because repetition and 6 minute long songs don’t usually complement eachother. However, in this case, the combination creates an appropriately hopeful ending to I Just Want to Make a Statement.
There’s another reason why you should be keeping an eye on Junior Astronomers – their live shows. Any North Carolinian who has stumbled into a Junior Astronomers show will tell you that to use the words “emotive” and “energetic” to describe them would be an understatement (brownie points for the first person to find the video of lead singer Terrence banging on a floor tom like that Phil Collins gorilla in the chocolate commercial – it exists). Terrence’s desperate, shouted vocals create a striking contrast with otherwise spacey, if not minimalist verses. Junior Astronomers also do a fantastic job of creating a band-audience connection. Too often does one see a good, energetic band perform at less than their best because the crowd didn’t have the energy to match. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Junior Astronomers – a quick YouTube serch will demonstrate how at points, it’s hard to even distinguish the audience from the band.
I Just Want to Make a Statement isn’t flawless. The production quality isn’t stellar, and to some listeners, Terrence’s vocals might get tiring after a while. The reason Junior Astronomers sophomore EP is so noteworthy is because, despite any downside it might have, it does just about everything right. It is just long enough to satisfy a listener, but too short to bore them. I Just Want to Make a Statement provokes emotion and displays the collective musical prowess of the band. The point is, it’s a too good an EP not to pick up, especially considering the price. So, check out Junior Astronomers, and support local, unsigned artists. Statement made. - Mind Equals Blown


Charlotte's Junior Astronomers closed out the night and if there wasn't enough sweat in the venue already, the group brought a new intensity to the stage. The band's indie rock grooves, compiled by additional bass drumming by the singer Terrence Richard, brought new life to the venue as the crowd piled up front and sang along to nearly every word of every song. Songs like "Party and the Parable" were loud and rowdy — as they should be.
- Creative Loafing


Fresh and invigorating in the most blistering way, Charlotte’s Junior Astronomers take the fuzzed-out pop-rock of ’90s bands like Superchunk and Pavement and inject it with howling garage aggression and almost mathy rhythmic emphasis. The results are catchy and inviting only to transform your ears into the combustibles for singer Terrence Richards’ scorching tantrums. Fellow Queen City band Harvard is a touch more conventional, pounding on the heavier side of modern rock while singer Jesse Clasen pierces the grunge with his high-pitched croon. It’s not as arresting as the Astronomers, but Harvard’s attack is tight and powerful enough to hold its own on this bill. - Free Times


Have you ever had one of those secrets where you’ve just been dying to share with someone and have just been waiting for the right time? This band is my equivalent of that. I got this EP prob about 6 months ago and have been trying to bring this band through the upstate ever since. So of course it’s only fitting that they’re playing this coming Friday at The Handlebar when I’ll be out of town, but I digress.

One of my big problems with EP’s is that sometimes they just seem frivolous and like album leftovers, this is not the case with “I just Want To Make A Statement.” This EP serves as a proper introduction to the band for those who may be unfamiliar with them, and does a proper job of showcasing them while still leaving the listener wanting more.

Fans of the Hot Water Music school of music will appreciate singer Terrence Richard’s breathy yet melodic vocal outbursts with a Tim Kasher-esque emotional delivery and the music which is reminiscent of a cleaner and less chatoic version of some of At The Drive In’s finer moments.

The EP opens with “Settle Down” which will be in your head for days. This track like every other on the album bobs and weaves with the best of them, from quieter more introspective moments to loud fist-pumping anthemic outbursts with the drop of a hat.

Thats not to say that this outing is a one-trick pony by any means. The 2nd track “Dying Rhythms” has an almost dirge-blues feel to it, while “Fox and the Hound” channels their inner Bloc Party and “Bad Bones” has an almost Strokes/Pavement type shuffle to it.

This group of songs steers away from the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus formula that has become so prevalent in modern rock music. You may hear a part repeated once or twice in a song, but usually not because these guys are more interested in letting the song itself lead the way instead of confining it.

Guitarists Philip Wheeler and Jeffrey Saer zig and zag between one another with frequent ease, while bassist Colin Watts and Eli Pittman build, break down and drive the songs with the intensity that only a truly honed in rhythm section can.

The only bad thing I can say about this EP is that under this recording a live band is dying to get out, and their energy is hinted at but you can tell it would take an insanely talented producer to be able to properly capture this bands frantic energy.

You can check them out this Friday April 15th at The Handlebar in Greenville with The Winter Sounds,Today The Moon Tomorrow The Sun and Greenville’s East North and you can download the EP here. Also if anyone properly records their show for me, I’ll get Myles to give you a tug-job. - Scene SC


There is a lot to be said to making a racket. Anyone could do it really – but only few bands really master the art of creating great coherent noise. That is what I love about North Carolina’s Junior Astronomers.

I generally have three tests when deciding on which bands to feature. The first being listening to them through my computer or streaming them through my fancy internet radio in the kitchen. Second up its MP3 player time, headphones while walking down to the corner shop. If a band makes it that far, its the difficult car test which seals the final deal.

Junior Astronomers passed all three with flying colours (or colors seeing as this is about American music), so much so I found myself humming, signing and generally hearing their music in my head for 2 or 3 days after. It takes a lot to create an earworm.

Their music evokes many comparisons in my mind – why not have a listen and see what you think? And while you are at it, have a little read of the interview below. - choosemymusic.org


Discography

New album coming 2017 on Refresh Records!

Thank You 7" (2015) 
Dead Nostalgia LP (2013)
I Just Want to Make a Statement EP (2010)
I Had Plans For Us EP (2009)

Photos

Bio

Junior Astronomers is a four-piece indie rock & roll band formed in their hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina. A quartet bound to the loud and impulsive. Gritty and Jangled on some occasions, then a joyous release bordering on celebration on others. The band is preparing to release their sophomore album on Refresh Records in Spring 2017.

Junior Astronomers is:

Philip Wheeler / the Guitar
Terrence Richard / Vocals
Elias Pittman / the Drums
Colin Watts / the Bass

Wheeler dropped out of college in '08 and moved back to Charlotte from Asheville, NC start a band with long-time friend and occasional musical collaborator, Richard, who had led by example and had parted ways with Academics a semester earlier. The two moved in together to continue work on promising early material and wrote a bulk of JA's early catalog in the following months. The boys went through a few line ups before blurred lines of fate delivered old friends Watts, Pittman & rhythm guitarist Jeff Saer (who left the group in early 2013). In that line up, music that had been well received but slightly out of focus, sharpened and hit an instant chord with local audiences. While the vast majority of songwriting still starts with the partnership of Richard & Wheeler, the process has opened up and songs get their structure in an open forum with Watts and Pittman lending some spontaneity and rich + rhythmic harmonic layering.

The group recorded their first EP with local music shaman + taste maker, Bo White of Kinnikinnik records. The 6 songs of 2009's 'I Had Plans for Us…' was recorded live, mixed and mastered in 3 days at White's home-studio. The 4 song EP 'I Just Want to Make a Statement' followed in the middle of 2010. The breakthrough EP, featuring fan favorites 'Settle Down' & 'Bad Bones' was recorded in Greensboro, NC with Kris Hillbert at Legitimate Business, a DIY show-space and recording studio. The boys developed a strong relationship with Hillbert and were very comfortable working with him at Legitimate Business, which shows through on the 20 minute-long EP. The release of 'I Just Want to Make a Statement' brought some National and International acclaim and sent the band out on the road.

Garnering a cult following for their live shows, JA has been continually on the move since forming in 2008, touring and sharing the stage with the likes of HRVRD, The Weeks, Cursive, Des Ark, Polvo, Algernon Cadwallader, Colour Revolt & Manchester Orchestra. The North Carolina natives are at once engaging and passionate, and the crowds are rarely still; shifting between shouting lyrics along with the consuming (intense?) frontman, Terrence Richard, from whom hooks abound and the captivating band, who play with a level of musicianship not fashionable since the 70's. Early 2013 has seen the band play sellout shows in NYC (at the storied Mercury Lounge), Nashville and, of course, at home in Charlotte as well as places in between. The performances are unhinged and never over thought. "If something is forced it feels like a job," the band echoes.

Dead Nostalgia. For two years after the release of their EP, I Just Want to Make a Statement, Junior Astronomers toured, boozed, partied and made bonds all along the east coast and midwest. Their raucous, energetic live performances carried over into real life. A sense of comfort set in, as it should when you are enjoying being young and celebrating early successes; full seasons spent playing shows and growing. Then, growing slowed and reflection began. What was after all this? Their early twenties were blurring together along with the older songs, they all felt like distant memories. 

During the summer of 2012, the boys finally figured it was time to exorcize their demons and packed up for Legitimate Business in Greensboro to work with engineer/producer, Kris Hillbert. The place was rich with history for all of them, so they found it perfect to record such a reflective group of songs. After two months spent tracking, mixing, & fine-tuning, they finally got to step back from what was going on around them and make steps on moving forward. 

The record was sent to Engine Room in NYC to be mastered by fellow North Carolinian and good friend, Dan Millice (ASAP ROCKY, Glassjaw, Hella). What came out of the process was 12 songs that perfectly captured Carolina nights - wandering and wondering. The excitement to record fueled growth as a band and as people. A year later, poised for more touring and the excitement of releasing their first full length, the Junior Astronomers can finally focus on the future instead of the past. Their hometown has bestowed official accolades and impenetrable loyalty upon them, but their energy is still fresh and passionate.