Enjoying the Phenomenauts
album "For All Mankind." Where the "Darkest of the Hillside Thickets" plumb the Lovecraft Mythos (with a great delve into retro sci-fi with their "Spaceship Zero" project), the Phenomenauts focus entirely on retro sci-fi imagery and sentiment, and the 1960's hopefulness about the potential for space, summed up by this Oakland-based retros sci-fi punk/rockabilly's motto "Science and Honor." I have referred to their punk/rockabilly sound as "rocketbilly," and I still think it applies to their focus on space, science, proving one's mettle and having a good time.
"Man Alone" is emblematic of this spirit, exhorting the audience to define itself with deeds, to break away from purposelessness and lack of ambition. "All of us/ We should have a mission/ We should have a purpose."
One of the elements of the Phenomenaut "mythos" is that gods, angels, demons were some advanced alien life form that visited Earth a long time ago and messed with the locals. An early song of theirs, "Galactic Pioneers," is sung from the point of view of some of these entities, apologetic about the unintended side effects of their visit. "We were just interested in stellar evolution and not religious ideals," the singer explains. "We just want you to admit/ That you interfered/ And left us stranded here."
Conversely, "Compensation" (from this latest album) is a critique of these unnamed alien entities for having contributed to mankind's perceived stagnation in space evolution as well as ideological divisiveness. "The fear that you inspired/ Has us bogged down and mired/ In ignorance/...We killed each other over what you said.../ We did it all for nothing."
Indeed, one of the main thrusts of the Phenomenauts message is a kick in the pants to the aerospace industry and to the world's governments for contributing to the disunity that is keeping our race, as a whole, from moving out to the stars. As they sing in their song Y2K, "It's only time we wasted/ We reached the lunar surface/ It's such a crime/ We gave up exploration/ We beat the Soviets/ We just stopped trying."
Edit: I forgot to add why I even brought up the Thickets in the first place - both groups have a song about time travel. The Thickets have a song called "20 Minutes of Oxygen" (for which they are releasing a music video) and the Phenomenauts have one called "Into a Time Warp." "20 Minutes of Oxygen" features a space-age character, trapped in a sealed airlock, wishing he had the brains to kludge together a time door to go back in time and warn a younger version of himself how to prevent this outcome - "that could be the ripcord in my destiny," he cries hopefully, but, having failed to actually build one, he resigns himself to the fact that "no, you won't remember... you won't remember me/ There will be no ripcord in my destiny."
The Phenomenauts song "Into a Time Warp" seems much more pessimistic about time travel. The singer enumerates the unfortunate consequences to history and human technological development now that he got stuck in a time warp, how the "Information Age will never be," and that it will "de-educate humankind." Both songs however share the same fatalistic conclusion: "No, I can't win," sings the protagonist from "Time Warp," while the singer in "20 Minutes" accepts that "it's too late now and I'm still dumb/ Twenty minutes of oxygen."
Give them a listen if you get a chance!