By Chris Pacifico

Not only is Ad Astra Per Aspera the official motto of this giddy quintet's home state of Kansas, but it is also Latin for "through the stars through difficulties." Seeing stars seems an appropriate way to sum things up because this is a band that brings forth a sonic sensation that gives its listeners and the world of pop music a swift kick in the balls. Ad Astra Per Aspera is like the dicey bastard child conceived by the Shins and Death From Above 1979 after a night of wild and drug-fueled orgiastic indulgence.

Catapult Calypso is jittery, antsy, and ever so colorful with its day-glo keyboards and a zig-zagging math punk aesthetic like that of At the Drive In with the spunk of early XTC. Singer/guitarist Mike Tuley's voice can morph into an array of erratic mood swings within a matter of seconds. Whether he's sounding cuddly or spastic, his screech merges well with Ad Astra Per Aspera's whirling psych-pop druthers along with their jingles, chimes, and jazzy infusions that never cease to keep twisting and turning.

Catapult Calypso has its moments that churn out bastardized Americana rhythms such as with the spacey pop of "Post Scarcity Sing-a-Long" and give a hoedown a potent cocktail of dub infusions and raw ADD punk with "Nothing Else is the Real Thing" and the sugary Eastern droning with "Unnamed Acoustic Song." With their love of cranking out the crunchy guitars and tepid circus ambience, Ad Astra Per Aspera prove that they're quite possibly the toughest kids on the block as far as indie pop goes. Be they spreading a cinematic feel over some rustic twang ("Everybody Lets Me Down") or veering the avant garde off into a syrupy terrain ("Globos Innuendos"), Catapult Calypso is here for those seeking the left-field pop gem of the year or those who wonder what it's like to be constantly loaded on a heavy dose of mushrooms and espresso.

JamBase | Kansas
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[Published on: 10/17/06]

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