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Aviary - Aviary CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.34 | 31 ratings

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2 stars Derivative is probably an overused term when discussing music, but in the case of Aviary it really seems to be appropriate. I have to admit to being one of the people who never heard of these guys back in the seventies when they were active. The songs on this debut release bring to mind so many other seventies AOR and prog-related bands I can’t believe there weren’t some liberties taken in putting these tracks together.

The opening “Soaring” for example could easily pass for ELO around the time they started replacing their string section with synthesizers, circa ‘Discovery’, although the tempo and keyboard passages sound like something Jeff Lynne would have put together around 1976 or so. “Anthem for the U.S.A” is even closer to a Lynne composition, and here the falsetto harmonizing male vocals are even more ELO- like. Lynne made a great next-generation Paul McCartney, and on this album Brad Love sounds like their younger second-cousin.

And the suspiciously familiar sounds don’t stop there. On “As Close as you can Get” Love manages a pretty decent Freddie Mercury imitation, but the musical accompaniment sounds more like the Buggles or maybe that “Turning Japanese” one-hit wonder the Vapors. And “Mystic Sharon” really seems like it should have belonged on the Don Was and Giorgio Moroder-produced “Electric Dreams” soundtrack alongside (once again) Jeff Lynne and Human League new-waver Philip Oakley. I loved that soundtrack by the way, but it didn’t exactly age well, and neither does this album.

“Feel the Heart” is one of those late-seventies tracks that starts to hint at the coming neo sound that became popular with bands like Saga and Asia – highly polished, heavily synthesized and just enough fluff to give the impression it’s more progressive than it really is. “Average Boy” is a pure new-wave number drenched with synthesizers and pompous, choppy fills and flourishes, plus a little more of that Lynne falsetto just for good measure.

The slow, introspective, flash-your-lighter-and-sway-with-the-music©® concert number comes with “I Will Hear”, and the band closes with another new-waver in “Maple Hall” that features affected vocals and a fairly danceable rhythm amid some pretty awkward and vapid vocals.

Sorry, but this isn’t a lost masterpiece or anything. It is kind of fun to listen to once or twice, mostly because it brings to mind an awful lot of music I grew up with that sounded a lot like this but was actually original and much better. The band would release a slightly more original and thus better album years later (after they broke up), but this one has all the makings of a marginal debut from a band that would have had more success trying to make a living as a touring cover band. For collectors only, although I’m not sure what type of collector would find this one appealing. Two stars.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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