Autumn Rain, 2006
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/11/2006
If there's any justice in the music world, we'd hear bands like Airiel Down on the radio more often. Not only is the North Carolina band one of the hardest-working indie bands in the country, they are one of the more creative new rock groups, combining several diverse styles instead of an all-out aggressive approach.
In fusing so many styles, Airiel Down doesn't really create one of their own. Singer Beaux Foy's simple but effective lyrics are the linchpin to each song, and the band is rather talented, but after listening to this I'm not quite sure what an Airiel Down song sounds like, because there are very few common threads.
Emotion is present here, and not just anger; joy, wonderment, disappointment and whatever you feel after three beers. “Suggestion Box” is an alt-rock update reminiscent of Soundgarden, and “Wasted” features a crisp acoustic guitar on one channel and a catchy electric riff that stays stuck in your head for the next few hours.
When you're done hitting repeat for that song, “December” is the next one to check out, recalling Collective Soul (not their song, but their sound) mixed with muted arena rock riffs. It's the same sort of sound that fueled the great grunge bands, but Airiel Down has none of their angst or desire to break from tradition; they're quite happy being a classicist rock band that shakes things up once in a while. Witness “The Mist,” which updates the Moody Blues for the iPod age.
The highlight is “Rose's Caress,” a downbeat rocker augmented by a two-step drum beat, some slashing power chords in the chorus and a blazing solo from Gordon Harris. Foy turns in a great performance; if Stone Temple Pilots ever regroup, they should aspire to this.
“Mr. Smith” is an example of a style gone wrong, as the band tries for a reggae-meets-rock vibe, complete with a Jamaican speaking part, and falls short. “Quietly” is solid but derivative of the better songs here, while “Anthem” is a bizarre cross between bluegrass, punk and metal, the best Faith No More song never recorded and a fun time, if inessential.
“Catch Me If You Can” tries to be an epic acoustic ballad at nine minutes but it doesn't warrant the length, while “Clear” and “Sick” are solid, if unremarkable. Finally, “Tangled” features a sad acoustic strum beneath some country-rock picking, harmonica and fitting lyrics.
Vision is a disc that, despite its lack of a cohesive sound, manages to capture a solid up-and-coming band that definitely deserves an audience. Airiel Down may not tear down any walls, but they certainly make you think, tap your feet and feel a different way with every song. A very promising and enjoyable debut.