It's been one crazy weekend, and I desperately needed a group that could dull a headache while at the same time rocking hard. I found such a group in the Aviators, an alternative-rock group out of Fenton, Michigan, USA. With their progressive sound and clear hard-rock influences, Aviators will take you off on a psychedelic journey high above the clouds before dropping you into a sea of melody and rhythm.
Composed of Dylan (vocals), Ethan (guitar), Matt (keyboards), Josh (bass), and Danny (drums), Aviators' versatile sound approaches levels of space-rock, while at the same time keeping us on the ground with good, old-fashioned hard-rock and alternative. Though I absolutely loved their two tracks "White Symphony" and "Ignition" from their album We're Not Lost, what I have to ramble on about tonight is their EP, the Desert Flower Demo. With influences that span the spectrum from The Doors to Zeppelin, and Cream, to Hendrix, the Desert Flower Demo is a refreshing take on what alternative rock can be that I've been craving for quite a while.
The title track of the album is incredible to say the least. Right off the bat I hear Doors and Pink Floyd influences mixed with Zeppelin riffs and even Radiohead-style vocals. The way Dylan composes his vocals and lets them fall over Ethan's Hendrix-like guitar riff can only remind me of Jim Morrison. As Danny builds in on the drums, favoring the cymbals in an eerily Pixies fashion, Matt's keys scream Ray Manzarek, and Josh's bass lines are tight and strong. But Aviators don't fall into a jam-band style in this one. Instead, they keep it on a Pink Floyd level, making sure every riff, every keystroke, is precisely where it should be, weaving them all together to create a tapestry of sound that hasn't been heard since the likes of "The End" and "Stairway to Heaven." Yet this song never tires, and like a Metallica masterpiece, I don't want to speed it up or rewind; everything works, and as a whole, the song is tight and powerful. I love it.
The second track I listen to is absolutely one of my favorites. "Z Chord" is a complete departure from the Doors-esque sound of "Desert Flower." Instead, on this one Aviators opt for a more alternative approach, creating a song that makes me think more of The White Stripes and Smashing Pumpkins than Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Yet other aspects are out of place here. Matt's keyboards are clearly Iron Butterfly-inspired, and I love it. The keys give the track an "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" feel, while Josh's bass lines could easily be confused with those of Krist Novaselic from Nirvana. Then Ethan shreds in on guitar, and my face is so melted I can't see out my eye sockets. Fantastic. Above it all, Dylan's vocals remind me of Jack White's, and Danny's drumming has Keith Moon aspect to it. All around, this track is totally different from the first track, and is all the better for it. Aviators have clearly cemented the fact that they can be part of any genre, and that they're not going to be pigeon-holed.
The last song I listen to from the Desert Flower Demo is "Hawkshaw," a track that continues Aviators' alternative stylings while at the same time crossing over into new progressive-rock territory. Here, Matt has unplugged his keyboards and graces us with a beautiful piano piece as Dylan's vocals are deeper, more stable, and clearly heart felt. Then Danny crashes in, and among pounding bass notes from Josh just above Danny's base drum, Ethan's guitar riff cries Cream influence, and coupled with Matt's piano prowess, combines to make this a must-hear track. Already a five-out-of-five track, "Hawkshaw" continues with a building rhythm, and vocals that exhibit Dylan's influences from blues-rock and alternative-rock. Amid a sick guitar solo from Ethan, the song begins to trail out, and this is easily a hit single for college radio. Before long these guys will be a household name the same as other alternative groups like Dinosaur Jr. and The Posies. Brilliant.
Sounds Like: The Doors, Pink Floyd, Cream, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr. Radiohead
Key Tracks from Desert Flower Demo: "Desert Flower," "Z Chord," "Hawkshaw," "Ballad of a Summer Day"