Aero Flynn — Aero Flynn ♠ Josh Scott is revered in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin music scene, which yielded Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, and Field Report. Produced by Scott and Justin Vernon, this album features members of Bon Iver, Field Report, S. Carey, Solid Gold, and more. Dk/Pi is the first single to be released from Aero Flynn, and has been deemed extremely promising by Stereogum, and a blissful return for the enigmatic songwriter by Consequence of Sound. First 250 copies pressed on CLEAR VINYL (Ooh La La Records).
Location: Eau Claire, Wisconsin ~~ Minneapolis, MN
Album release: MARCH 10, 2015
Record Label: OOH LA LA RECORDS
01. Plates2 4:40
02. Twist 3:47
03. Dk/Pi 5:06
04. Crisp 4:00
05. Tree 3:24
06. Floating 7:01
07. Maker 3:53
08. Brand New 4:31
09. Moonbeams 6:27
♠ Josh Scott
♠ Adam Hurlburt
♠ Mike Noyce
♠ Dave Power
♠ Ben Lester
♠ Vern signed on as record producer and assembled a dazzling cast of musicians: Bon Iver players Mike Noyce, Sean Carey, Rob Moose and CJ Camerieri;
guitarist Matt Sweeney; pedal steeler Ben Lester; Solid Gold’s Adam Hurlburt. The sessions went very well. Over the course of a year, the Aero Flynn record was finished.
♠ There is an intriguing, almost intoxicating appeal to mythologizing indie rock stars from the Midwest — especially those who hail from the unassuming little college town of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. So when I came across yet another story about a bearded dude on the prairie who funneled a tortured period of isolation and illness into a willowy, woolen album, I was not only skeptical, but downright leery. And yet the music pulled me in, and now the narrative and the songs have become inseparable.
♠ The short version of this particular story is that the frontman of Aero Flynn, Josh Scott, used to front a band in Eau Claire in the early 2000s that rivaled Justin Vernon's college band, DeYarmond Edison. In fact, the two bands shared members — both Scott's Amateur Love and Vernon's DeYarmond Edison featured brothers Phil and Brad Cook, who would eventually form Megafaun, and drummer Brian Moen, who would later play in Peter Wolf Crier — and the overlapping nature of the two projects fostered a sense of friendly competition and mutual respect between the two frontmen.
♠ After a few years of success in their hometown the musicians scattered, and Vernon ended up moving with his DeYarmond Edison bandmates to North Carolina while Scott abandoned music and retreated to Chicago. But Scott’s legacy endured. "Josh Scott was the ambassador of my heart for many years," Vernon has said, while another Eau Claire music scene alum, Chris Porterfield of Field Report, writes that, "Amateur Love were and remain the best band I have ever seen."
♠ Now, after spending a decade off the grid navigating around both mental and physical illnesses, Scott is using Aero Flynn as his flare gun to signify that he’s still alive. Which explains both the urgency and the fragility of the nine tracks on this debut album; though it was recorded at Vernon’s studio in Eau Claire, it sounds like it could have just as easily been beamed down to Earth from the airlock of a space station, the first transmission from an explorer lost in the mesosphere.
♠ The most alluring thing about Aero Flynn is how sharply Scott’s cherubic voice contrasts with the propulsive and unsettling nature of his space station confessionals. "Can I feel you?" he sighs over the vaguely tribal rhythms of "Crisp," and it sounds more like a desperate plea than a come–on. There is a deep desire for connection that appears again and again in the lyrics on the album, but all the while distorted vocal effects, searing guitar parts, and assorted blips and beeps interrupt Scott's transmissions and threaten to change his frequency altogether. And yet he continues to float through the darkness with his hand outstretched, always searching, ever hopeful.
♠ The cast of characters that have assembled behind Scott have already made Aero Flynn a bit of a buzz band locally (the live band includes Solid Gold's Adam Hurlburt, Bon Iver's Mike Noyce, the Ericksons' Ben Lester, and omnipresent brothers Jake and Jeremy Hanson), and the ongoing support they have received from Vernon will likely propel them further into the national spotlight. But listening to Aero Flynn, one gets the strong sense that Scott didn't record this album so he could receive pats on the back from his Eau Claire peers. If you choose to embrace the backstory and allow it to dance alongside the music, one gets the sense that his reasons for writing and recording these songs were not only hefty, but inescapable.
♠ "I believe that this record, this long–awaited record, is quite seriously a life–or–death record," Chris Porterfield insists. "And it must be heard in the context of deferred health, deferred relationships, deferred dreams, deferred healing." :: http://www.thecurrent.org/feature/2015/03/03/first-listen-aero-flynn-aero-flynn
BY DUSTY HENRYON MARCH 11, 2015, 5:01 AM; SCORE: B
♠ In an alternate universe, Josh Scott would have become a major indie rock success by now. The songwriter’s Eau Claire, Wisconsin band Amateur Love would have gotten blog buzz, become ubiquitous on dorm room stereos, and eventually been dubbed Best New Artist at the Grammys. But that’s not what happened. Instead, Scott’s friend Justin Vernon would go on to follow this path as Bon Iver, even though peers like Vernon and Field Report’s Chris Porterfield were convinced that Scott’s talent surpassed their own.
♠ Instead of finding Bon Iver’s level of success, Scott secluded himself in Chicago and watched friends break through from a distance. Over the years, he would sporadically reappear, coming out of the depths of his depression and autoimmune disease to work. Finally, he seems to have reemerged definitively with the self–titled debut of his new band, Aero Flynn, produced by Vernon.
♠ Those years of hiding and suffering weigh heavily on the album, a hazy blend of synthesizer glitches and folk sentimentality. What’s remarkable, though, is that the album remains subtle and understated. Scott doesn’t try to make a grand statement of his journey, but implies it with lush instrumentation and ghostlike vocals. He sounds triumphant on the dreamy “Dk/Pi” and lonesome and afraid on closer “Moonbeams”. Even at his most intense, like on the sputtering “Trees”, he hardly raises his voice above a whisper. It’s easy to see what his friends find captivating about him. His greatest strength is his tact; he knows when to step away and let the instrumentation speak for him. The simple, reserved melody on “Maker” allows the rushing drums and weighty string arrangements to flourish.
♠ Each song, whether it’s a frantic guitar experiment or a downtrodden piano ballad, builds a world within itself. On standout “Brand New”, however, Scott lets them all collide into one overwhelming, transcendental moment. Plunky bass lines crash against guitar twang with serene chimes in the background. Vernon’s monotone backing vocals give the song a steady undercurrent, as he both literally and figuratively acts as support for his friend.
♠ Even if Scott doesn’t follow the path his friends foresaw for him, he’s still made something worth applauding. Aero Flynn is an engrossing artistic statement born out of tumultuous circumstances. This one mesmerizing piece is worth savoring all on its own.
♠ Essential Tracks: “Dk/Pi”, “Maker”, and “Brand New”
♠ It is 2002 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin upstairs in a rented student house and Justin Vernon is in my arms weeping, saying, “I just want my band back.”
♠ Over a decade has passed and still, just today, I was on the phone with a writer from the New York Times who was doing a story on Wisconsin music, and really all anyone wants to talk about is the early aughts in Eau Claire. How many fucking times can my dear old friend Vern have his truly magical narrative incanted? How many times must his story be invoked by another, held up by an also–ran?
♠ One more time. This one. It’s the last one. You know that oblique, Grammy–winning line “That time you played me ‘Lip Parade’”? “Lip Parade” was a Josh Scott song.
♠ Josh Scott is a disruption. He is as reliable as the wind. He is an earthquake. He is a drought. He is a thirty–year flood. He is my best friend.
♠ That band Vern wanted back, DeYarmond Edison, shared members Brad and Phil Cook and Brian Moen with Josh’s band, Amateur Love. Vern and I were about to go see Josh’s band play. They were the better band and everyone knew it. The songs were better. The ideas were grander. The subject matter weirder. The narrators more honest and articulate. The frontman more compelling. The potential greater. Amateur Love were and remain the best band I have ever seen. Plans were hatching. Futures were congealing.
♠ And Josh got spooked like a deer. He abruptly ended Amateur Love and moved to Chicago, essentially gifting the members fully to Justin, allowing DeYarmond Edison to resume full focus. The band gathered itself into a core and relocated to North Carolina.
♠ Then, everything happened. Vern broke. Megafaun gathered, formed, flew. Brian Moen toured the world with Peter Wolf Crier. I started Field Report. Josh watched it all from Chicago and did nothing. Everyone tried to encourage him. Several years after he left, people were still talking about him. He had opportunities for record deals. He had another supergroup of who’s–who indie rock royalty assembled for him, ready to go, waiting only for him to show up. He got spooked again and went underground
♠ Everyone tried to call him. Goad him. Coax him. Cajole him. To get him to do anything. He didn’t. We were dancing to make it rain. We were cutting ourselves in some blood ritual to appease something in his restless spirit that could not be appeased.
♠ Vern started a record label, Chigliak, in large part to reissue the Amateur Love record, hoping that it would jumpstart Josh’s confidence and interest in performing again. And it did for a while. Songs were coming, but that was never the problem — Josh has literally hundreds of songs. But the wind changed, and waves crashed.
♠ While the people who revered him and were influenced by him developed music careers (sustainable ones at least, once–in–a–generation ones at best), Josh developed crippling untreated depression and a mysterious autoimmune disease. He will need a kidney transplant in a few years. He will need therapy much sooner than that.
♠ And then the wind changed again, this time carrying a fire. Word got out that Josh was heading into the studio recording a new batch of songs under the name Aero Flynn. He was back in school. He was writing a screenplay. He was blazing, and the heat around him was unavoidable.
♠ Vern signed on as record producer and assembled a dazzling cast of musicians: Bon Iver players Mike Noyce, Sean Carey, Rob Moose and CJ Camerieri; guitarist Matt Sweeney; pedal steeler Ben Lester; Solid Gold’s Adam Hurlburt. The sessions went very well. Over the course of a year, the Aero Flynn record was finished.
♠ Josh’s new songs coalesced into an incredible album. It is deeply personal and as cold as space on your bare skin. It club–bangs; it psych–jams; it cathedral–shivers. The album sounds like it could have been made by someone from a bleak future age, who grew up on lunar outpost listening to Robert Wyatt and Thom Yorke Earth–tapes. We are huddled around the radio, listening to someone whisper with canned air.
♠ The record finished, the time came to figure out how to get the world to hear it. The Waiting and the Business are both very real, normal, frustrating stops on the journey of how records get to be heard. But as the road turned, the wind changed again. Josh disappeared. Communication fell apart. Relationships and health suffered. Bridges were badly burned. I hope they can be rebuilt in the antebellum reconstruction. I hope that you hear this record.
♠ I don’t know if this is a bio, an essay, or a letter to a friend. I’ve known Josh since we were five years old. Josh was born into a more difficult life than many people, and some of it he’s made harder on his own. When he is off, it can be hard to know where you stand. But when he is on, there is no one better on Earth
♠ I believe that this record, this long–awaited record, is quite seriously a life–or–death record. Josh had to make it to stay alive. And it must be heard in the context of deferred health, deferred relationships, deferred dreams, deferred healing. As spit in the fucking face of the symptoms of disease, like rot and destruction and apathy and cynicism.
♠ When we were all together in Eau Claire in the early aughts, we would sometimes gather around a tube T.V. and watch the film about Wilco. When Tweedy sings about how he was maimed/saved by rock and roll, I think we probably believed it. I’ll never cast dispersion on what someone has gone through, but I do know this: Josh Scott has been maimed by rock and roll. I pray that it can save him.
— Christopher M. Porterfield, 1 April, 2014
♠ “extremely promising” — Stereogum
♠ “A blissful return for the enigmatic songwriter” — Consequence of Sound
♠ “…Aero Flynn, made their First Avenue debut, with hushed melodies and emotive vocals. You’ll likely be hearing more about this band…” — Local Current Blog
♠ “Twist’ [is] an orchestral ballad which pairs spooky folk balladry with experimental electronic elements.” — Exclaim!
By Pia Cabrera, on March 7, 2015
Christopher M. Porterfield, 1 April, 2014