The duo of Alex Ownejazayeri (vocals/guitar) and Scott Malmberg (vocals/guitar) started a band called Astronomer. Their EP When I Leave was meant to give you a sample of where the band is going and put “feelers” out there. The band made a good call naming these demos because that's about where they lie in regards to sound quality.
They make melancholy folk that can be compared to an artist like Glen Hansard or Bon Iver. The music attempts and sometimes finds moments of tranquility, contemplative nostalgia and beauty. There are some successes and some mishaps amongst these songs but I found the majority of the five songs in the win column.
The album starts off with a mild success called “Timberwolves.” There is a lot you can enjoy about this song from the vocal melody to the soft pads and acoustic guitar. The lyrics are interpretive alluding to metaphors. The vocalist sings, “I am a wolf in sheep's clothing Loathing the loneliness Of this forest.” Sometimes there is too much stress on the vocals, which could have been helped out with a better mix.
“Higher Living” is an upbeat, exuberant song that is a step up in terms of originality and delivery. The Vampire Weekend-esque guitar playing is a high point and I thought the vocal harmonies were well done on this song. What I loved most about the song is the transition it makes from sounding subdued to exploding with energy.
The next track “Constellation” felt like a filler that even at two minutes felt too long. The highlight of the EP is “Patient.” I thought the production was well done on this track as they create an enveloping atmosphere that draws you in. They close with “When I Leave” which was a decent track that felt like a leap from “Patient.” It almost felt like a different band.
When I Leave has all the hallmarks of a young band feeling their way through. They are drawing from their influences, aren’t settled on a sound and haven’t figured out their strengths. That being said there is plenty of potential here and if they play their cards right they could see some success. Right now they are a case of wait and see.
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