Locals Only: Blastronauts

  • Chris Russell photo
By Columbus Alive
From the Locals Only: Blastronauts edition

Blastronauts are an industrious bunch.

The musical partnership of James Allison and Jacob Halpern has been going strong throughout the pair's college career, despite the fact that they were enrolled more than 600 miles apart - Allison at Ohio State and Halpern at Boston U.

"We're always in a state of perpetual limbo, but it never really dies," Allison said.

Since forming back home in Connecticut on summer break two years ago, they've managed to play dozens of shows a year, curate Columbus' Outer Sounds concert series and record several EPs.

The latest, Galileo, will be celebrated with a show next Thursday at Oldfield's on High featuring The Lost Revival, Dead Trees and New York's Rosewood Thieves.

Galileo serves up six helpings of the band's "psychedelic atheist space rock." Many of the tracks dabble in the astronomical imagery that has captivated Allison and Halpern since they struck up their friendship as classmates a decade ago.

The record is the first in a series of EPs named for astronomers. The next one, set for recording this winter after an autumn tour of the Eastern U.S., will be called Copernicus.

"There's so much that's unknown out there that we figure that's probably a little more creative to talk about than things that everyone already knows," Allison said.

"Like 'Girls suck,' " Halpern added.

Blastronauts' aversion to banal subject matter and pedestrian labels like "indie rock" belies the pop pedigree that goes along with the band's frayed edges and sonic exploration.

They ought to appeal to fans of Britpop boundary-benders Blur, ethereal pranksters Evangelicals, psychotropic scrappers like '90s-era Flaming Lips and just about any band on CD101's playlist.

Next Thursday's show will feature a full four-man lineup with Allison and Halpern backed by longtime drummer Matt Whitslar and The Lost Revival's Daniel Kirschenbaum on bass. It's the latest of several formations the band has taken, including a surprisingly potent guitar-drums interpretation that Allison and Whitslar sometimes bust out when Halpern is out of town.

His absence might not be a problem much longer. Now that Halpern and Allison have both graduated, they're seeking to firm up future plans for the band. And considering Ohio's geographic centrality, the low cost of living here and Blastronauts' free pass at Electraplay Studios in Hilliard, uprooting to Boston or New York doesn't seem smart for now.

"We find we've been spending a lot more time in Ohio now," Allison said. "Columbus is a better home base."

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com