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AstroPOP! for January 2004

Imaginary rock and roll astrology CD reviews by Chilly C for January 2004

Capricorn {December 22-January 19}
Your ill will towards the romantically smitten has reached alarming proportions. Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution for 2004: negate the hate, and learn to love the love. It's ok to be suspicious at first: on their double-cd fantasia Speakerboxx/The Love Below (LaFace), OutKast may be playing to the whole crowd, but their watchful eyes are on every lady in the house. And what with vampire weddings, potty girls in the clubs, and women asking Cupid to drop his arrows and pick up guns, it's no wonder Andre 3000 and Big Boi are afraid of the L-word. But Big Boi knows he can trust his family, and Andre admits that "don't nobody want to grow old alone." So even if you're tentative for now, Cap, let your heart feel love this year. Otherwise, you'll go crazy wondering "why are we here? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

Aquarius {January 20-February 18}
You call it "speaking your mind." Your friends call it "taking over by talking louder." Now, I'm not telling you to keep quiet — but your Imaginary New Year's Resolution is to try keeping quieter. Sometimes, Aquarius, the softest voice commands the most attention. Rocky Votolato's 2003 release Suicide Medicine (Second Nature) starts with a subtle arrangement of guitars, bass, vintage keys, and drums, and as the album progresses, the songs gets quieter and quieter. And quieter. By the time we reach the album's closer "Mix Tapes/Cellmates," it's just Votolato and his guitar. With a voice that sighs like Paul Westerberg at his most plaintive, Votolato whispers secret truths that grab your attention in a way that shouting never will. And when he does raise his voice-slightly-it sounds like the most desperate wail in the world. Keep quieter, Aquarius — people will listen.

Pisces {February 19-March 20}
Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution for 2004: learn a language. Once you get bilingual on our asses, Pisces, your already articulate nature will be even more unstoppable. Check out Franz Ferdinand's angular new ep, Darts of Pleasure (Domino). This UK four-piece throw down five catchy songs that effortlessly manage to keep up with both your 'rock is back' and 'new wave is back' joneses. Best of all, the band transforms their Strokes-meet-Iggy Pop title track from one of last year's best out-of-nowhere singles into one of last year's best out-of-nowhere singles with a final chorus sung in German! Repeat after me, Pisces: "super phantastisch."

Aries {March 21-April 19}
Aries. Look. You and I need to talk about the way you rush around so fast paced always late never having any time at all to breathe or slow down or take any kind of rest whatsoever until at the very end of the day you collapse into a restless sleep without any dreams at all and then you wake up and start the whole thing over and over and over and. Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution: relax, Aries. Put on Different Stars by the LA four-piece Trespassers William asap-it'll be the last thing I want you to do immediately. After that, sit back and listen. The slow tempos, the fretless slides, and Anna-Lynne Williams soothing, measured voice will quiet your fried nervous system and start you on the path towards a more serene lifestyle. Williams sings "Oh I know what I need" on standout track "Lie In The Sound," and Aries, now you do too.

Taurus {April 20-May 20}
Did you know that the most popular New Year's Resolution is to lose weight? Not for you, though, Taurus. Your sallow complexion and gaunt frame requires the opposite approach: your Imaginary New Year's Resolution is to put on the pounds. But before you reach for the Krispy Kremes, listen to Catch-22 (Parasol) by Seattle pop vets Toothpaste 2000. Their sunny harmonies and 60's-influenced confections are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth for pure pop. And with instantly memorable songs like "Count Choc-o-lat" and "Candy Pants," TP2K guarantees a great-tasting listen. If you like the Muffs, the New Pornographers, and the Shangri-La's, you can't go wrong with Toothpaste 2000. Just don't overdo it, Taurus, or else next year… well, we know what resolution you'll be making then.

Gemini {May 21-June 21}
Seriously, I'm afraid to tell you that you're too self-critical, because knowing you, that'd be just one more thing you'd criticize yourself about. Your lack of confidence prevents you from seeing yourself in the positive way others see you. You really need to listen to JPG's cd "Ten Songz" (no label). JPG — a melancholy rapper with a talent for odd-metered rhythms — has a similar self-image problem. He creates lo-fi beats in his bedroom, then rocks the greater Eureka/Arcata, CA area with nothing but a boom box and his dexterity on the mic, but he asserts that he's a down-and-out type with "no social skills" who needs to train a dog to help him break the ice with girls. But there are plenty of girls who adore JPG-he just needs to look out in the crowd while performing. Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution: build a little self-esteem. Look out at your crowd, Gemini. We're all supporting you!

Cancer {June 22-July 22}
How many times has this happened, Cancer? You meet someone, you think of something funny or clever to say… but by the time you put it into words, they've already walked away shaking their head. Make an Imaginary New Year's Resolution to transform your tongue from awkward to acrobatic. Seattle four-piece Laymans Terms will help you learn how to address to impress. From their fetching pictures on the cover of their latest cd {Everything You Love And Hate} (Laymans Terms) to the arresting first line of the record "I found God in blue jeans/Flipping through magazines," it's clear this band knows how to grab you from the get-go. But they're more than just a dazzling first impression. The songs are strong throughout the cd: big, passionate anthems for young-at-hearts who believe that there is value in everything if you know where to look. And if you know just what to say when you find it, Cancer. Pleased to meet you!

Leo {July 23-August 22}
Your fear of heights has caused you difficulty for a long time now, Leo. 2004 will be the year you conquer it! Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution will have you up on rollercoasters, on ski lift
s, and in the Space Needle in no time. Listen to the Dear John Letters' stabilizing Stories Of Our Lives (Foodchain). Robb Benson's soaring voice is like a rollercoaster itself: climbing higher and higher to an energetic plea, then plummeting to a quiet sigh—often in the same song. From bruised hearts to fresh scars, the songs will send your emotions on a wild ride as well, but Johnny Sangster's circular, Kinks-inspired guitar riffs will never make you dizzy. As Benson puts it in "Bipolar," "Only for an hour of ups and downs/Ups and downs." Vertigo never sounded so good.

Virgo {August 23-September 22}
You're always there for everyone else, you never miss a party, your cell phone plan is the biggest on the market. All fine, but I worry that you're short-changing your need for "alone time." Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution is to give yourself a break from your social commitments. LA's Summer At Shatter Creek likes alone time. Lots of alone time. The band is in fact the singular vision of sole member Craig Gurwich, who plays every instrument and sings every note on SASC's self-titled cd (Absolutely Kosher). It's a testament to the achievement of solitude: the songs drip with carefully layered instrumentation, and Gurwich's ethereal tenor evokes a calmer Jeff Buckley or a more urbane Nick Drake. Lyrically, the plaintive descriptions of missed connections and lonely holidays suggest that while solitude has its price, it also provides a great opportunity to think about one's place in the world. In your case Virgo, that's in a crowded taxi, on your phone, in between parties.

Libra {September 23-October 22}
Embrace art! Libra, your right-brain dedication to moving forward in your career is commendable, but you need to give your left-brain a workout as well. It's your call: painting? Photography? Toothpick sculpture? Visit your local art supply store; they always have cool stuff to buy. Biography of Ferns definitely embraces art, Libra-you should take your cues from them. Their new 5-song ep Memory's Servant (Tellous) is arty in the way that only a sonic splatter painting of the Gang of Four, the Clash, Pavement, and the Kent 3 (another great Seattle trio) can be. Each song is like a piece on a gallery wall: colorful, expansive, and adventurous in narrative. But before you get the wrong idea, Libra-Biography of Ferns definitely rock it out too. They put the action into action painting. Now grab your brush, your camera, your toothpicks, and make some art yourself.

Scorpio {October 23 – November 21}
You're loaded with baggage, Scorpio, and I'm not talking about the emotional kind. I'm talking about stuff: under the bed, bursting out of closets, and I won't even mention that basement storage space. Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution: strip down to the essentials, and keep only what you use. Take your cue from the Fiery Furnaces. This New York-via-Chicago brother-sister duo is the missing link between the Raincoats and the White Stripes; they're the Velvet Underground if Mo Tucker had fought her way to the front after John Cale was kicked out. On their amazing debut Gallowsbird's Bark, (Rough Trade), the Furnaces take two chords, ancient rock'n'roll imagery (travel, love, isolation), and a sparse piano-fuzz guitar-drums sound and use them to reinvent the universe. You don't have to think that big, Scorpio. Cleaning out your basement storage space is a good enough start.

Sagittarius {November 22-December 21}
It's well known, Sag, that your choices in romantic partners usually lead to relationships whose outcomes fall under the "no chance in hell" category. Now, you might think I'm going to tell you to approach love rationally this year, but this astrologer has never believed in applying logic to matters of the heart. For example, who would discourage, say, a record album cover painter from falling in love just because the woman of his dreams is a Greek God's immortal daughter who just jumped out of an alley wall mural? Not me. In fact, I'm going to encourage these kinds of relationships by asking you to listen to the Xanadu soundtrack (MCA) over and over. Your Imaginary New Year's Resolution: follow your heart, Sag, wherever it may lead you. One day, destiny will arrive to bring all your dreams alive. For you.