Where Astronauts Go To Hide
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Where Astronauts Go To Hide

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Band Folk Rock

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Another Album Review on PinupPistols.com!!!!

Indie rock worshippers will now have one more artist to lust over as folk/trip-hop band Where Astronauts Go To Hide releases its debut full length, "The Tragic Wreck of the Hexxus."

Singer/songwriter and sole permanent member of the band Joshua Pederson is obviously deeply influenced by other indie artists doing folk rock and doing it well, particularly those living and breathing their art in the same Midwestern cities Pederson exists within. However, the man is a rarity in a world where nothing can truly be new in music, exhibiting originality when he could so easily mimic his predecessors and find success. This album takes stylistic chances with drum machines and layered, echoing vocals in places where you would expect to hear only a voice and an acoustic guitar. The risks are respectable and intriguing coming from a virtually unknown artist. Though he has a long way to go without a record deal, Pederson is clearly working on becoming the next Thom Yorke/Bob Dylan/Conor Oberst..

Childhood Ferngully fans may associate the Hexxus with a diabolical creature intent on destroying the world the mystical tree fairy holds dear. While it's doubtful this album drew inspiration from the animated flick, Pederson does tackle the issue of a powerful figure crashing into our world and driving it toward desolation. In "Big Heads," Pederson takes a tongue in cheek look at the life of our men and women overseas fighting our global war on terror. The subsequent track "Folding Paper Airplanes" approaches the same topic with lyrics and melody that are as full of heartbreak and remorse as "Big Heads" is bloated with sarcasm and clever commentary. "Maggie" and "Tax Breaks" also have political undertones.

"John Dillinger Slept Here" is a song cleverly masquerading as one more political reverie, but the only political thing about it is the power struggle between lovers. Like the other seven non-political tracks on the album, it presents the same social commentary but from a more introspective and at times painstakingly personal perspective. Pederson is an intelligent lyricist who understands love and loss, and knows how to craft a song that explains matters of the heart without borrowing cliches.

Even with its modern feel, "The Tragic Wreck of the Hexxus" is evergreen and inspiring. I want to dance. I want to drink. I want to kiss. I want to cry. I want to burn a picture of the president.
- PinupPistols.com


Upon first listen to The Tragic Wreck of the Hexxus, the first word to come to my mind was "apocalyptic." After getting through the entire album, however, I realized that Where Astronauts Go To Hide cannot be put into any musical box. It is not traditional folk, it is not quite rock, nor is it pure techno-tinged hip-hop. The genius of The Tragic Wreck, then, lies in its complete uniqueness.
In every one of the twelve tracks on this album, an eclectic mixing of sounds ensures that the songs do not become typecast love songs or political ballads. Sure enough, there is a political undertone to many of the songs, particularly Maggie, John Dillinger Slept Here, Tax Breaks, and Big Heads. At the same time, though, the layering of voices and the clash of instruments muddies the lyrics, and pulls our focus onto the more stylistic elements of the album.
The album also uses sounds from everyday life, which, purposefully or not, are cleverly related to the titles of the songs in which they occur. The Arsonist opens with the flick of a lighter, while Human intersperses the recording heard on the Chicago Brown Line Train, and some of the dialogues that occur in said train car.
After track seven, The Tragic Wreck is noticeably tuned-down. The political diatribe is no more, and the songs are more relatable to our everyday lives. Sure enough, the varied sounds—drum beats, aluminum clanging—continue, but the anger and revolutionary tone are noticeably muted in comparison to the earlier tracks.
Where Astronauts Go To Hide has shown itself to be a musical tour de force. Never conforming to one genre, theme, or even sound, The Tragic Wreck peaks our interest with its reluctance to be "pegged." Take that John Mayer…
- The Booze News


While Joshua Pederson, the singer/songwriter and leader of Where Astronauts Go To Hide, was eating at a space-themed pizza restaurant in Minneapolis, where the delivery drivers wear “spandex space suits” and “drive around in electric pods that are about two-feet tall,” he was inspired for the name of his current project. The music isn’t galactic sounding by any means and actually Pederson says that it’s just a name that came to him and doesn’t have any other real meaning.

Pederson and his somewhat constantly evolving cast of supporting players, made up of friends from his original hometown of Minneapolis, his current home, Chicago, and many other cities in between, have a “fun-loving, folk-rock” sound, as described by Pederson himself. The project began after he had spent time as a part of a louder punk band and decided to branch out on his own. Where Astronauts Go To Hide was initially a darker brand of folk music, but after the addition of Rachel Lindsay Kahn’s violin, the project began to take on a different tone. The violin adds brightness and movement to many of the songs and takes any potential dreariness out of them.

Starting off, many of Pederson’s lyrics had a central theme of life in the Midwest, but that began to change as well. The band began touring and Pederson began to see more of the country and to meet the people in it. “I never traveled much before I moved [to Chicago],” says Pederson, “and it morphed from this totally Midwest- based project to something different.” Many of his lyrics, at that point, began to have central themes of travel and of the experiences that go along with meeting new people.

Since its inception, Where Astronauts Go To Hide has toured “intensively,” according to Pederson. He explains that there are certain cities, such as Omaha and Denver, that the band has been concentrating on and trying to build followings through old and new friends in those places. He adds that, in order to hit those key cities, the band will “do shorter jaunts of nine or ten days, but it will be all the way from Chicago to New York to Denver. They’re ridiculous itineraries, but they tend to work out.”

Pederson and the group are currently recording new material for a full-length record, “Little By Little,” which is tentatively scheduled to be out in the spring as well as planning tours for January and March. (Todd Miller)

December 12 at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, (773)276-3600, at 10pm. $5-$8.

http://music.newcity.com/2009/12/11/space-cadet-joshua-pedersons-where-astronauts-go-to-hide/ - NewCity Chicago


While astronauts might need a happy place when they’re millions of miles from home, those of us down on Earth are looking for the same thing as we struggle through dead economic times and otherwise dreary days. It’s good to see that we are not alone. In fact, Minneapolis-based Where Astronauts Go To Hide and their new album, Amongst Friends, are trying to help.
Where Astronauts Go To Hide are getting through the same hardships as the rest of us, all while also trying to make a name for themselves in one of the most unmerciful of professions—music. They sing songs about life, about working their way into the Chicago scene, and about what it takes to get there.
The band's sound is definitely quirky and dreamy, sometimes reminiscent of The Decemberists. Band leader and singer Joshua Pederson’s voice isn’t particularly amazing in any classic sense, but it complements Where Astronauts Go To Hide's bare-essentialist style perfectly. Rachel Kahn provides wonderful kitsch with her many instruments, including violin and trumpet, and her slightly more poignant voice, which adds to the depth of Amongst Friends' sound. She smoothes out the bluntness of Pederson’s presentation, making it that much more accessible. This duo, while not possessing as much chemistry as, say, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, makes for a very pleasant, earthy combo.

At times, Amongst Friends soars, especially on album highlights "Maggie," a head-bobber that espouses life in a completely overwhelming city, and "The House that Kevin Garnett Rebuilt," a heartbreakingly sensitive ode to new friends and potential loves. Other times, the album stumbles, as with "Hollywood Hairstyles," a track that sees Pederson taking the lead, belting out words that quickly become a little too much as his pitch gets more frantic and disjunct. The track becomes especially disorienting with the randomly added drama of a tiny electric guitar solo.

Overall, Amongst Friends is a fun romp through the early days of a band's career, offering a glimpse into what it takes to make it as an independent artist. The album is filled with nostalgia about family and friends, dreams of the Pacific Northwest, run-ins with the police, and attempts to earn money in a critical world suddenly short on spare change. The album offers a never-ending supply of relatable topics for the rainy days of recession. Even when we feel like we’re floating in space, Amongst Friends is a reminder that we are not alone in our struggles.

Susan Tebben - Tracer Magazine


Discography

"Amongst Friends" LP- 2009.
"The Tragic Wreck of the Hexxus," LP- 2008.
"Everyone is Okay" EP- 2007

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Bio

Where Astronauts Go To Hide is a band with a sense of adventure.
Joshua Pederson met Rachel Kahn based solely on their mutual vegetarianism in Chicago, Illinois in 2007. With a half-decade of practically unexposed songwriting under Joshua's belt, the duo began playing the songs around town at a variety of small venues. After a year of playing in front of crowds in Chicago as well as both US coasts, Joshua chose to enlist a few musicians from his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This introduced his brother, Andrew and another pair of siblings, Michael and Matthew Krumm to the core lineup, though concert attendees may see a variety of auxiliary musicians on stage with the group.

In April of 2009, Where Astronauts Go To Hide released it's newest effort, "Amongst Friends," and have performed extensively in support of it. The album marks a transition in Pederson's songwriting, from dark and somber to bright and fulfilling, a change deliberately made as Joshua claims, "nobody wants to listen to me complaining." "Amongst Friends" contains catchy songs about maintaining hope and love while trapped in the Midwestern landscape. 2009 saw the band sharing the stage with influential bands including Land of Talk, the Good Life, and Murder By Death.

The group sees the sky as the limit and 2010 as a blank canvas upon which to permanently inscribe its name. They will release their next full-length, entitled "Little By Little," come summertime and will spend most of the year tacking miles onto their odometer.

Currently, the band isn't sitting waiting for a sign. Rather, they're working their behinds off to get their music in ears, doing practically everything themselves. A band with such an increasing knowledge of the industry is a force to be reckoned with, and they will never compromise their integrity.

They will write the songs they want to write, and people will hear them.