Listen Up: Wednesday, February 27, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
aerial

Caught Inside the Circle (Self-released)

By Ken Shimamoto

Back when I used to make the four-hour drive to Shreveport, La., on a monthly basis, I passed many hours listening to the radio. Luckily for me, that was around the time when the Sundays’ Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was big-time FM fodder. On a good trip, I might get three or four opportunities to hear Harriet Wheeler singing her darkly cynical lyrics in her infinitely pure soprano. I even actually bought the c.d., for those rare occasions when I wanted to listen to something other than jarring, abrasive noise. (Hey, I’m a rock critic; I have a reputation to uphold.)

Thus, my guilty-pleasure alert went off when I heard this new e.p. by an unsigned local outfit that’s bypassed the usual new-band route — open-mic nights and low-paying opening gigs — for a couple of showcases at the Bass Hall (well, in the Hall’s McNair Studio).

Singer-lyricist Julie Lange might not be as cynical as Wheeler, but her voice has the same ethereal quality. Lange trained as an opera singer at TCU, although there’s nothing very operatic about her performances on this c.d. Guitarist-mandolinist Kell Curtis provides her with the same kind of crystalline textures that the Sundays’ David Gavurin supplied for Wheeler. Much of the muscle in aerial’s sound comes from L.A. bassist Brian Aitken, who sends his recorded bass parts and songwriting input via the internet.

To these ears, “Waiting,” the self-explanatory “Disillusion,” “Heart of a Woman,” and “Caught Inside the Circle” could be the Sundays — a good thing, while “Love Disaster” juxtaposes modern-sounding drum programming with atmospheric guitar washes, and “Everybody Needs Someone” rocks like something from the ’80s. Throughout, Lange’s voice soars. A worthy debut.


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