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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Aerial

Caught Inside the Circle CD EP

Review by Bruce Stringer

Texas based Aerial have started to draw attention to themselves with their recent Peter Gabriel support and CD EP, Caught Inside the Circle. With influences ranging from Michael Hedges (whose Aerial Boundaries was the inspiration behind their name) to The Sundays, Tori Amos to U2, and Sade to Depeche Mode Aerial have managed to produce a mature and positive sound that highlights the song writing duo of Julie Lange and Kell Curtis.

An interesting angle to Aerial's CD (and DVD) release is that they have chosen almost conceptual art over the usual "pretty girl singer with band in the background" cover shot. The band's music speaks, which is why such clichéd selling points have gone out the window in favour of relying on their vast compositional strengths. The group's press/promo pack is one of the best I have yet to come across. With 4-track DVD (including 2 non-EP songs), brief but informative bio and, of course, CD their professionalism alone should stand out over many other up-and-coming artists. Final word: Aerial are a great all-round band and provide a deeper crossover of pop, rock, folk and much, much more. For more information on the band, and the disc, go to their site at www.aerialband.com.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Waiting
A great opener and most likely single from the EP,"Waiting" is light in a Corrs kind of way, yet well textured and an interesting, almost Celtic vocal mixture of Evanescence, the Corrs and Iona. Interesting chordal interplay separates Aerial's sound from other pop/rock acts and "Waiting" is a perfect example of the potential of this band and finalist for a recent UK song writing competition. It has great lyrics, "Time, it only speaks to you in questions, never answers", and this was even recorded live in concert!
Love Disaster
More radio friendly and slightly less folky than the opener, "Love Disaste"r brings the listener into Sade territory with a sultry and smooth presence. Co-written by Lange and producer/ bassist Rick Campbell, this could be the track which takes the band into other areas of fandom with its jazz lounge funk.
Everybody Needs Someone
A solid rocker, this track has some standout vocal melodies, nice commercial pre-chorus and intensely strong chorus. This could be another great choice of single and, if this is a suggestion of what is to come, I think that these guys are going to really go places. A unique guitar solo (somewhat reminiscent of some of Alex Lifeson's chordal soloing) takes the song into its chorus and cut ending. It's a great track.
Disillusion
"Disillusion" is my favourite song from their EP and is darker than it's counterpart, "Waiting". Here we see some interesting dissonant chords underpinning some smooth and brooding lyrical work. The word "disillusion" is broken, syllabically and gives tension to the song already driven by the guitar work. Some nicely placed bass playing and a false-stop make this a left of centre creation and, as I said, my favourite from the EP.
Heart of a Woman
A little like 1970's Heart mixed with Suzanne Vega's work from "Solitude Standing", some nice duel vocals and cool guitar soloing allow this song to open up and develop. There are some very subtle, beautiful percussive sounds that add interesting layering with keyboard woodwind sounds - beautiful.
Caught Inside the Circle
As the CD quotes: "It's life in side the circle". Folky and stomping in nature and, once again sounding like "Little Queen"-era Heart with the presence of mandolins, this piece is a strong-pulsed, thought provoking number and great way to end the CD. Some stunningly clear precision violin player adorns and there are little hints of harmonies between vocals and the string soloist. Interesting ending proving a well thought out production.
 
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