Simon and The Astronauts
Featuring Rachel Haden
Simon and the Astronauts is the generational songwriting team of Simon Wells, Ben Hewerdine and Chris Pepper. While seeking a female vocalist for specific tracks, the three met their match in musician Rachel Haden (The Haden Triplets, That Dog, The Rentals), whose resumé also includes collaborations with Beck, Weezer, Todd Rungren, and others. Impressed by what they heard, the focus of the project changed: an album of material ensued.
Wells, Hewerdine and Pepper would incubate ideas, seeking new sonic landscapes for Rachel’s voice to glide through. The quartet quickly adapted, exchanging ideas and music between Chris Pepper’s Saltwell Studio in Cambridge, UK and Rachel’s hometown in Los Angeles, California. Singles “Parallel World” and “Oxygen” lyrically reflect Wells’ reaction to the current state of affairs. The wistful, spectral piano ballad and closer, “Lost in London”, evokes the memory of The Beatles, Sex Pistols and other UK rock and roll icons.
Simon and the Astronauts featuring Rachel Haden is an unequivocally charged love letter to time, rock and roll, and space travel through the human experience. The album and its journey guide us through every complex emotion, finding a home and peace in the end, with strings, piano, and Rachel’s pristine vocal delivery.
Acoustic Hippie Punk
That Summer’s “acoustic hippie punk” feels like a lost mixtape filled with a late 90’s charm. The album is a sprawling canvas that ranges from sunny fingerpicking folk gems to classic Cali Pop-Punk.
Many of the albums tracks reflect moods that vary from longing to tongue-in-cheek forms of self deprecation. Hippie Punk is a new brand of power pop that eloquently pins the listener somewhere in between the walls of Counting Crows and NOFX.
The production is a pot-pourri ranging from The Eels to The Get Up Kids, occasionally leaving room for Frusciante-esque smokey dive bar guitar jams. Singer/Songwriter Charles Rocha is of Brazilian dissent but has moved all around the United States the past decades which allowed him to acquire his unique modern Americana blend. There is a hometown vibe that is present on this album that specifically feels like small town Pennsylvania. Oakmont, PA to be exact; where hippie punks were a real thing! Imagine a mob of late 90’s pop punk kids walking the tracks along the rivers with mouthfuls of chewing tobacco.
Fans of Saves the Day and Fountains of Wayne will find this album to be the kind of treat to keep coming back to. Is it fireside folk? throwback pop punk? Nah.. just good old acoustic hippie punk.