Boa Constrictors - Anomic (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Boa Constrictors

Anomic (2011)


Joe Astle is an impressive kid. Anomic, the debut release by Boa Constrictors, was written and recorded as a solo project by Astle, and features an understanding on song-craft and lyric penning that many artists never achieve. That's quite an accomplishment for a 17-year-old.

Clearly indebted to the Beach Boys, the Tokens, and Frankie Valli, Boa Constrictors pen tunes that walk the fine line when doo-wop was evolving into rock and roll. Dealing more often than not with life and searching for that special girl, the band takes what could be cutesy-wootsie and trite and instead cuts some easy rockers that hit complex issues with masterfully simple lines.

Although the music is mostly soft sounding, propelled by Astle's acoustic guitar and some light drums, every so often the band drops in unusual garage rock elements such as UFO sound effects, ominous heavy electric guitar, or ghostly wails. While the album does stick fairly close to early rock, these extra elements add to the songs and flesh them out with individual character.

Somewhat of a Neil Young/Brian Wilson mix, Astle's voice has youthful exuberance but a trace of the warble accompanying old age and experience. While the songs deal with charged topics, throughout the disc he maintains an almost Joy Division distance from the topic at hand, which hangs a little bit of sadness from each eighth note.

What's most striking throughout the disc is how effortless Astle lays down melodies that stand up to the early rock classics that inspires them. "Stupid Anyways" features a hook so well worn that I could have sworn it was a cover of a platinum single from 1963...but it's an original! "Haunt Me, Baby" features lyrics that are as simple as they are clever, delivering one-liners without any hints they're supposed to be such.

Recently, Boa Constrictors have evolved into a four-piece live act. So long as Astle keeps up his song-craft and the band adds a few more elements to their incredibly developed sound, it looks like they've got quite the career ahead of them.