There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Alabama-founded, Georgia-based Man…or Astro-man? claims it’s bent on conquering Earth. Project Infinity, though, is more likely to conquer fans of roughneck surf and Devo-style posturing. After setting the mood with a foreboding sci-fi soundbite (“Diameter 4.9 miles! Mass over 6,000 megatons! And speed 17,050 miles per second!…Destination Earth!”), the band leaps into the blistering “Escape Velocity,” which alternates between staccato treble riffs and guttural bass runs. Most of Infinity‘s 15 tracks are instrumentals, but vocals drive “Manta Ray,” a derivative but impressively urgent song credited to Black Francis—which explains the stark bass-guitar intro and minor-chord progressions familiar to Pixies listeners. Man…or Astro-man? also performs a superb version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. theme, in which guitar vibrato duels with a discreet Farfisa-style organ, and shows off high-velocity picking on a cover of the Surfaris’ “Alpha Surfari.” In keeping with the quasi-military/ NASA theme, these galactic goofballs label one song “(Classified),” and leave a 16th top-secret piece, “Mach One,” off the disc entirely (a mistake, or the ultimate in hidden tracks?). Engineer extraordinaire Steve Albini aids the band on three tracks, and purists will be relieved to find the sound perhaps even improved by the star power.