The Red Telephone

Aviation

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What a surprise -- this Boston quartet's self-titled Warner Bros. debut album from 1998 was so underwhelming, they got dropped and few noticed. Here's a case, like romance sometimes, where being dumped turns out to be the thing that makes you get your act together for a better next time; Aviation is like some other band, the good witch from the north, not the one crushed under the house. Left on their own, recording on a 12-track machine at home, the Red Telephone are suddenly living up to the lofty standard they set for themselves when they took their name from the Love song, off the immortal 1966 classic Forever Changes (of "Alone Again Or" renown). And rarely has a band done a better job of describing itself then when rising star/leader Mark Hutton says of his band's newer direction, "If you could somehow blend American pop bands like Wilco and Big Star with British dream rock bands like Radiohead, the Verve, My Bloody Valentine, and Ride, you'll have a better idea of what we're going for (than the terms psychedelic, atmospheric, or ethereal)." These too are formidable comparisons, but Aviation is as big, bold, proud, and nearly as involving as their models, with an especially big splash of Radiohead's less caustic side and a twinge of the more sweeping U2. The bass booms a hole in your ear while the guitars ply their dense thicket of cascading sound, the drums pile on, and Hutton's vocals take flight. Were this an LP, it would have made our Top 40; but even at just five songs, they can hold you spellbound, without the heavy-handed syrup of the OK Travis and the decent Embrace. (P.O. Box 132, Allston, MA 02134; pppphone@hotmail.com)

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