Born in the last year of the previous millenium in San Francisco, Astral was dedicated to a lush mixture between the melancholic gloominess of Post-punk and the stellar surrealism of Dream Pop, which wasn't quite the kind of music that was in evidence by those years (actually, they were swimming against the tide, specially if you consider they're from USA, in aeons totally dominated by Nu Metal and Poppy Punk...).
Well, let's forget the musical scenario of those dark ages and talk about what matters, their music. While they weren't exactly innovative, they crafted a great collection of moody and dreamlike songs for their debut, the 2003's Orchids, that will certainly remind you of Cocteau Twins (Blue Bell Knoll era), My Bloody Valentine's (1988-1989's EPs era) and specially The Cure (Disintegration era). Even the vocals (aside from Shoegaze tradition, Astral did the vocal lines comprehensible for most human ears) display a great influence of Mr. Smith in all its characteristic romanticism and vulnerability. However, they don't get stuck in copying their musical references as many people did (and still do!) around there, but assemble their identity by choosing the classical references they most enjoy, making these The Cure and MBV inspiration sound healthy and just plain natural.
Although their later work has great quality too, I stick to their debut and decided to drop it right below for you. It's a sadly overlooked gem, refreshig in its own way, sounding perfect for windy autumnal afternoons/evenings. I hope it tastes good for you all! ;)
get it! (new link from Mega)