Type “Milwaukee psych-stoner-biker-band” into the search engine of your choice and you’ll land on Calliope. Beginning with a bluesy self-titled album in 2013 and culminating with the thunderous Chapel Perilous in 2018 (don’t forget about 2014’s excellent ORBIS, which boasts the forever-awesome “Casino”), Calliope has both embraced its influences and evolved over time. Now, the band (Al Kraemer, Vic Buell, Anthony Smith, Dan Dahl) is going through its most dramatic evolution yet, setting aside the Calliope name and rebranding itself as Astral Hand.
“After spending seven years on three full-length albums through a changing member lineup, it was time to move on from the psychedelic circus,” the band says. “This may not be the end of Calliope, but it is ‘farewell for now’ as the band turns away from the past and into the future.”
So what does the future hold? Based on Astral Hand’s first over-the-top single, “Universe Machine,” a sound that fully embraces Chapel Perilous‘ outsized grandeur (not coincidentally, that album’s first track is “Astral Hand”) and mixes it with a retro-cool sci-fi vibe straight out of Logan’s Run. If any band could get away with singing lines like “Open your eyes and see / The size of my laser beam” from the perspective of a wrathful cosmic deity, it’s the band formerly known as Calliope.
Astral Hand plans to release its debut album later this year. Until then, listen to “Universe Machine” below, follow the band on Facebook and Instagram, and catch its debut show Friday, April 26 at Company Brewing.