Smile Politely

Now Hear This! The Asteroid #4 — “Tricks of the Trade” (1999)

Around the turn of the century, Philadelphia was on drugs.

Or so it seems any way. Evidence points to the huge uprising of bands that willfully gave themselves a “psychedelic” tag, culminating in the compilation and subsequent release of Sounds of Psychedelphia> by the U.K. label Rocket Girl.

The compilation itself is hit and miss, with some of the bands sounding more like a weak 1960s tincan pop band, rather than a late 90s My Bloody Valentine-inspired wall of sound. There are a few stand out tracks though, and one of them is by The Asteroid #4, who some would argue was at the center of the movement.

Their contribution closed the comp with a four-minute gem called “Tricks of the Trade”; it never strays from its initial jam before devolving into a wash of white noise. When frontman Scott Vittorelli reminds us that “The free world fell/But interest in life will surely prevail,” you want to agree with him: his declaration is flanked by the repetition of sounds that forces memories of artists like Spiritualized, Slowdive and the aforementioned MBV. And while this song probably doesn’t really come close to honestly comparing to these luminaries, it sent a good message to the United States indie rock scene at the time: psychedelia could be cool if we just gave it a little more of a chance.

That the band still exists is a testament to their prowess. They’ve never really achieved the type of success that they probably deserve. Yet, they are still slated to perform come December on the east coast. You have to respect that: ten years and still doing it well.

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