This isn’t anything new and I’m not particularly wise, but over the years as a participant in this city’s various music scenes, I couldn’t help but see band after band lured into the charitable clutches of record labels only to be banished a year or two later back onto the mean streets of Manhattan. With only a bargain bin album or two to show for it, even the most determined of artists often pack it in at this point for a saner mode of making a living. I’m not gonna name names here, but I’ll never forget the night I saw a “hip” downtown audience physically turn their backs as one (as if they were choreographed to do so) when a band just dropped from Geffen’s roster took the stage. Up to that point, the band had been the darlings of the downtown scene. How quickly loyalties vanish along with the royalty checks. About a month or two later I heard that the group’s very talented and dynamic singer and songwriter had applied for admission to a trade school. This city is full of cabbies, waiters and boutique floor walkers who were once the beneficiaries of a slick A&R guy’s sky’s-the-limit budget - before that guy (and of course his bands) fell out of favor with his record company. It’s a cruel world and the reality of it (for the band leader anyway) is that most of the time you only get that one shot.

So Jeff Darien must be flying pretty high about now with his super-hot band AeroVox. Island Records had signed his previous group Mach Five a few years ago and that Brit-pop influenced band seemed on the verge of breaking through on the heels of critical acclaim and massive exposure. But it wasn’t to be and eventually the band members went on to other things. But unlike most others who have found themselves in these straits, singer/guitarist/songwriter Darien didn’t just try to put together a continuation band (Mach Six?). He instead decided to start all over and built a solid new band around a vision, one that would be powered by the passion of the new songs they were jamming on.
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Commentary and photos by Jeff Rey
© Copyright 2003 NEON, blue door productions
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Jeff Darien discovers life after Mach Five and finds good vibrations with a high-flying new group ...
The night I saw them at Tribeca, AeroVox pulsed with an enticing rhythmic vibe. Not only is Jeff Darien a charismatic presence on stage who commands attention with his emotional vocals, but the whole band just grooves. Lead guitarist Will Jimenez (formerly of the Gefkins) does this tremolo thing with the pick-up switch on his Les Paul which is kinda the 21st Century equivalent of the way Jimi Hendrix used the whammy bar on his Stratocaster. The result is an overall vibrating aura that infuses AeroVox’s music and makes it distinctly their own. Jason Graciolett on drums and bassist Cy Donovan (ex-Paint) are as solid as any rhythm section you’ll find in this town and that tightness is an important part of holding these good vibrations together. At times AeroVox brings to mind the Revolver-era Beatles (in approach, at least) on the trippy “Forever Ends” and the melodic “Running On Empty.”  They also, echo some of the U.K. bands of the 80s like Flock of Seagulls, New Order and (would you believe?) Haircut 100 on songs like “Bone Marrow Drive” and the retro-new wave “Wysiwyg” (from the chorus: what you see is what you get). If you listen close you’ll probably hear a few dozen other bands that may or may not have influenced AeroVox - U2, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs - but AeroVox really doesn’t sound like any of them. They sound like AeroVox.
AeroVox have an EP out with the wonderful name The Sky Highatrist. The six songs (including the ones mentioned above) are a good sampler of what this band’s about, though the recorded-in-a-shoebox, Strokes-like sound of Darien’s vocals at times were kind of a surprise after hearing them live. That’s only an observation, not a criticism because this is a very strong recording that is representational of AeroVox’s shimmering material. There’s a whole reality/myth/saga behind the name AeroVox and its relationship to Sky Highetry should you dare to explore it further at