Music comes in so many forms and serves so many purposes—it can provide catharsis, inflame passions, deliver solace, inspire hope, cultivate lethargy, frighten/freak you out, make you dance, etc. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of Gebrauchmusik (utility music or music for use), popularized by Paul Hindemith, since it can provide a fun way of thinking about certain pieces of music and which scenarios they might be most appropriately utilized for. E.g., to my mind, Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” is the correct music to have playing when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair, mentally preparing yourself to be anesthetized against forthcoming harm, etc.
“Living In Symbol,” the new album by Astronauts, etc., like a lot of pleasant and fun music, is a good hang. The whole album is great. You can pay a lot of attention to the sweet melodies and the production, or you can kind of zone out and let it pass you by, but it will seep into your brain and you’ll end up humming these songs to yourself no matter what. This album feels like a close friend who will always forgive your faux pas, your crankiness, your inattention, your negligence, and will still invite you over to their summertime cook-out.
Also: Astronauts, etc. (Tony Peppers) is from Oakland, and this album sounds like Oakland (where I lived for four years) to me. Oakland is welcoming, forgiving, and fun. You can find people who will support you in Oakland, people to play music with, to make art with, to discuss ideas with, to hang out with. “Living In Symbol” sounds like everything’s that’s great about a city like that, where you can be yourself.