Aster: Some Things Seldom Heard Of

Aster, the Austin-based duo of Tim Husmann (drums, keyboards) and Bryan Ellis (vocals, guitar), traffics in a hard-to-resist brand of wistful melodic pop of the kind that suggests kinship to Travis and bands of that ilk. With stately piano playing and lush fields of drums at its music's core, the group typically opts for a multi-layered “wall-of-sound” approach that sometimes threatens to drown Ellis's whisper. Another downside is that Aster's overly polite attack can flirt a little too closely with easy listening, and the synthesizers flooding “We Won't Remember” sound about three decades past their “best-by” date too. Despite such caveats, what ultimately saves Some Things Seldom Heard Of is an above-average stockpile of insinuating melodic charm. The opener “Run Away from the Suits” encapsulates all that's appealing about the group's sound, with the song's shower-storm of glockenspiels, galloping drums, strings, and breathy vocals crowned by melodies that swoon and soar in equal measure. At album's end, "Theme Song" pares things down to an acoustic guitar-piano arrangement that gives the band's sound some welcome breathing room and lets the vocals stand forth more clearly.

March 2008