Ashtar Command ‘American Sunshine’ Album Review
Chris Holmes (tour-mate of some British guy named Paul McCartney) and Brian Liesegang (co-founder of Filter, ex-roommate of Trent Reznor) aren’t interested in being lumped into any one musical category. They don’t want to hear about other artists sounding like Ashtar Command. And though I have no idea if either of those things is true, American Sunshine may have helped ensure that they never will be.
The band’s second LP offers a notably diverse collection of styles and supporting talent (headlined by the uber-talented Rachael Yamagata). It skips from chilled out indie (“Let the Sunshine In”), to Americanized 90’s Britpop (The Oasis-esque “Breakup Song”), soft-acoustic ballads (“China”), and on a few occasions pays homage to Smashing Pumpkins (“Mark IV” & “Gravity”) and Billy Corgan’s monstrously distorted guitars (not too surprising as Liesegang worked on Corgan’s solo album).
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what genre one would use to classify American Sunshine – a fact which can prove beneficial if done correctly, but can certainly hinder an album if executed poorly. Holmes and Liesegang managed to make this one work, and the product is a consistently interesting listening experience.
Glancing at the album’s title (and cover art), it can be easy to interpret it as satire – especially given the country’s current depressed economic state and its prominence in a lot of new music. But American Sunshine’s lyrics are genuinely uplifting and even spiritual at times. Most songs are about opening hearts, embracing existence, picking ourselves up – “Breakup Song” being an exception. And as the industry trends more somber, it’s refreshing to hear an album brimming with hope and optimism as opposed to the usual heartbreak and despair.
Needless to say, Ashtar Command and its founders have been busy – between TV shows (Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C.), commercials (Nissan Altima), video games (Red Dead Redemption), legendary musicians (McCartney & Corgan), and multiple other musical endeavors, American Sunshine could easily have never happened. Thankfully Holmes, Liesegang, and their multitude of collaborators found the time to make this outstanding sophomore LP. You can buy American Sunshine here.