Space Is the Place

Thank God for Astronauts launches some heavenly pop.

"I play chords with Ken I've never played before, like C sharp minor and things like that," says Rich.

"That chord is an ongoing joke," explains Jones with a laugh.

"It's fucking Elvis Costello! C sharp minor, man!" Phillips shoots back.

With the installation of Feuchtinger on drums, Thank God for Astronauts finally had its propulsion system. A veteran of numerous Denver bands over the last few years, most notably the balls-rocking Snatchers, he had started focusing more on his home studio right around the time he joined TGFA. "I was really getting into recording, using an old eight-track recorder and running it straight into the computer," he says. Dubbing it Uneven Studio, Feuchtinger has used his homemade setup to record fellow Denver indie groups like Breezy Porticos and the Maybellines over the past couple of years. "I can get pretty hi-fi if I want to," he says with a grin. "Or pretty lo-fi."

The new TGFA seven-inch record, Take It Tough, was produced at Uneven as well, and it sounds even better than the band's first, eponymous four-song EP recorded last year by Chris McDuffie of the Apples. The single's title track is a short, sharp pulse of classic pop undulating with reverb and sweet, shaky vocals. The guitars scratch and snarl under fuzzy puffs of melody, recalling everything from the Modern Lovers to the Undertones to Crooked Rain-era Pavement. Jones's bass line tickles the ear like a wayward echo of some long-lost Go-Go's song, propelling the whole thing from stratospheric to interstellar.

"Bass lines are the coolest things about songs," affirms Phillips. "For good bass, go back to Motown. That's kind of what Steve is doing with that walking line on 'Take It Tough.' It's really punchy."

A third Thank God for Astronauts seven-inch and a singles-collection CD are already in the blueprint stage. Like both TGFA records so far, they will be released on the local pop imprint Best Friends Records, a cadre of self-confessed "wimp rock" bands overseen by Alice Gilbert of the Maybellines. "Al is the best," says Phillips. "When I first gave him those early tracks that we recorded with Chris, he wanted to put out a record right away. He's been really good about getting our records out there, and we've gotten some good reviews from it. He keeps us going. He really pushes us."

"Each show we play now gets a little better. Maybe two people are dancing instead of none," kids Jones. "Maybe I'm too easily satisfied, but I love just playing at the bar and rocking out and having a good time."

Phillips agrees. "While we plan on sending some stuff out to bigger labels and maybe trying to do some tours, it seems like if you get to a certain level, then it's all about what you have to do. That would kill it for me. The music in itself is the great thing."

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