Escapist treats abound from this mysterious, tongue-in-cheek collective from the Southern United States. Man or Astro-man? have an ear for yesterday's sounds of tomorrow, as they decorate their mostly instrumental tracks with obscure sound bytes from out-of-date sci-fi movies and forgotten TV shows. Silly, dangerous, occasionally sloppy, but never boring, their album Is It Man...or Astro-Man? is the answer for everyone running low on laser gun/go-go/surf/spy/cowboy/drag racing/'60s/bullfighter/Mars-invasion/motorbike music. Songs like "Taxidermist Surf," "Invasion of the Dragonmen," and "Journey to the Stars" (originally by the Ventures) gallop along with the energy of a dozen wild stallions headed for Neptune. "Nitrous Burn Out" is a fantastic bit of racetrack romp, liberally mixed with roaring pistons and accident bulletins along the way. With anything so aggressively "up" in nature, there are a couple moments that inevitably droop a bit in exhaustion, like the novelty filler of "Organ Smash" and the uncharacteristically long "Alien Visitors," that tiredly meanders through some of the very same clichÈs that at other times serve the band best. This being said, how can you turn your back on musicians that insist on the sheer fun of it all, when bandmates have memorable names like Star Crunch, Dr. Delecto & His Invisible Vaportron, Coco, the Electronic Monkey Wizard, Birdstuff, and Grand Master Useless? It's been said that listeners must
see this band in concert in order to get a better sense of their uniqueness. After all, it's just your typical laser gun/go-go/surf/spy/cowboy/drag racing/'60s/bullfighter/Mars-invasion/motorbike music, but in person they are known to be one of the more memorable bands to see, as the floor show packs a Devo-esque punch for anyone interested in space exploration. This would be the soundtrack if Quentin Tarantino directed the old Flash Gordon serials. Isn't that worth a listen?