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The best kept secret in music


"Jeff Darien discovers life after Mach Five and finds good vibrations with a high-flying new group ... AeroVox"

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.

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

Commentary and photos by Jeff Rey
© Copyright 2003 NEON, blue door productions
All rights reserved - NEON NYC.COM Foto Flash Feature

"AeroVox - The Sky Highatrist EP Review"

Formed from out of strength of a Britpop backbone, Aerovox’s sound draws upon influences from; Echo and The Bunnymen, JAMC, The Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Radiohead, PIL, and New Order. Their sound engulfs the past giants’ shoegazing aspects with a more modern guitar rock approach and added electronics. Highly emotional lyrics and chamber soaked, raspy vocals add an engaging new appeal to their sound. -

"A&R Alert – Unsigned Artist Profile – AEROVOX"

For a lot of artists, landing a major label deal, putting out a record, and then seeing your band split up could mean the end of the rock ‘n’ roll dream. For Jeff Darien, however, that was just the beginning.

Darien was the frontman and songwriter for late-90’s rock act Mach Five, which scored a deal with Island Records and released its self-titled debut (which would end up being its only album) in 1998. But when the band’s short-lived career ended, instead of giving up, Darien recouped, rethought his approach to music, and set the wheels in motion for what would become AeroVox.

“After the breakup of Mach Five, where I was the sole songwriter, I started looking for a musical partner-in-crime – ideally a guitar player – to form the nucleus of a new, and more collaborative band,”Darien explains.

He found that partner in Wil Jimenez, a talented guitarist who had done time with New Jersey band the Gefkins, as well as the Don Fleming-produced Rocket. The rest of the band fell into place as Jimenez brought in drummer Jason Graciolett and Cy Donovan was recruited on bass.

Having done the traditional songwriting thing, Darien was excited about the prospect of seeing his new band’s songs develop in a different ways – even if it wouldn’t be as immediately gratifying: “We spent nearly a year jamming as a group to formulate our own sound,” he reveals. But that was time well spent. “It’s a sound that reflects each individual member’s style and influences.”

Coining the final result “post-punk space rock,” the singer cites influences within the band from Echo and The Bunnymen, Ride and The Stone Roses to Swervedriver, New Order and The Psychedelic Furs. But while there may be hints here and there of other bands, the tracks that make up the group’s debut release, “The Sky Highatrists EP,” show just how far the quartet has gone in surpassing its reference points and becoming something entirely new.

At times reminiscent of its city’s hometown heroes, the Strokes, and at others of Manchester musical kingpin Oasis (most notably in the vocal delivery), the six-song release (featuring the standout track “Running On Empty”) spotlights the fruits of all the initial labor that went into giving shape to the group.

“Unlike a lot of bands and artists from any scene or musical era, we hope that we have a broader perspective and a sense of musical history, so that we don’t sound like any one band that’s existed before,” says Darien. “We aren’t looking at what’s happening ‘now’ or ‘then,’ but what we’d want to hear in a parallel multi-verse: i.e., Kevin Shields jamming with Keith Moon, Johnny Rotten and Peter Hook.”
Insisting that the band took its name from the means of communication used by “an ancient order of shamans” known as the Sky Highatrists, Darien asserts, “we aspire to modern day Sky Highetry in everything that we do.” Of course, a thorough online search will turn up little (nothing, actually) on these supposed mystics, but that doesn’t change the fact that AeroVox is dedicated to its aesthetic.

“Sky Highetry is not a sport,” he states, firmly. “It’s a way of life.”

-Doug Levy - CMJ New Music Report - November 2003

"August 2003"

AeroVox features Jeff Darien, frontman of Mach Five; ”The Sky Highatrist EP”, this band’s new EP, finds it playing 80’s inflected rock music with nicely rough edges. - Time Out New York

"Johnathan Clarke"

I just love this band from right here in New York City... See them live - which I highly recommend.

- Q104.3 "Out Of The Box"

"AeroVox 06/29/2004 Rothko NYC"

If ever there was a band with a sound that pulls off the polar sonic descriptors of smooth yet rough, it's the as yet not as heralded as they ought to be AeroVox, a local NYC band that certainly has its share of chops and pedigree and is just now gaining that snowball of notoriety that seemingly overnight explodes into an avalanche of buzz and hype.

And for them, that would certainly cap off a journey that's been taken the old-fashioned way - through consistently solid shows characterized by performances that while not the flashiest or trendiest pack the same if not greater punch than other sexyflavor of the month types.

At the helm of this ship of rock is Jeff Darien formerly of the fondly lamented Mach Five - who in contrast to the majority of frontmen and women these days is a sort of everyman's hero, the Larry Bird to a Diego Garcia's or Shawn Christensen's Magic Johnson. He leads a deadly and precise four piece crew that at times threatens to go over the cliff then at the last second reigns it all in to a sleek controlled rhythm that never loses any of its power.

Jasper Coolidge - Jenyk/Dot/Com


"Psychotrypotopical" Glister-Pulse 2006
"Rewind 2004-1" Promo EP 2004
"The Sky Highatrist EP" Glister-Pulse 2003


Feeling a bit camera shy


Neo-psychedelic post-punk space-rock with a determined devotion to melody and harmony. AeroVox. The Sky Highatrists. Psycotrypotopical. Songs to move to. Songs to learn and sing.

AeroVox played their first show in the spring of 2003. Jeff Darien is the singer, one of two guitar players and keeper of the faith. Cy Donovan plays bass. Cy played bass with AeroVox in the spring of 2003. Jack Broad is the other guitar player. Sometimes he sings backing vocals. Darren O’Toole bangs the drums.

Within the last 12 months, AeroVox has already hit the Top 15 on national radio industry trade paper FMQB's "Sub-Modern Rock" Singles Chart as the only unsigned band in the Top 25; hit the Top 10 on U.N.C.L.E.'s New Music Weekly Chart "AFRO INDIE TOP 20" at #6 and A&R Worldwide reported AeroVox in the Top 25 at #21. Radio stations that supported and spun AeroVox include: WOXY - Cincinnati OH, WDYL - Richmond, VA, KACV - Amarillo, TX, WQXA - Harrisburg, PA, WARQ - Columbia, SC, KS95 - Iowa City, IA, KFMA - Tucson, AZ, KXRK - Salt Lake City, UT, WAVF - Charleston, SC, WANZ - Tuscaloosa, AL, KUPD - Phoenix, AZ, KPNT - St Louis, MO, WFNX - Boston, MA, KTCL - Denver, CO, WNNX - Atlanta, GA, KUSF - San Francisco, CA, WPGU - Champaign, IL, WRZX - Indianapolis, IN and WAXQ – NYC. WAXQ’s “Out Of the Box With Jonathan Clarke” named AeroVox’s one of their “Best Of 2004.” Radioio named AeroVox one of "Robert's Hot Picks" and was featured in their "Favs Of The Moment."

Also within the last year and a half, AeroVox has showcased at 2004 CMJ Music Marathon (2 shows), Boston NEMO, The Dewey Beach Popfest (Dewey, DE) and was named "Top Rock Act" of the 2003 M.E.A.N.Y. Festival (Musicians & Emerging Artists New York) beating out over 200 of the best New York area bands. The band had recieved an expanded profile in "CMJ New Music Report" as one of their "Top Unsigned Artists" to watch for. "Fearless Music Television," one of New York’s best outlets for showcasing up and coming independent rock bands, featured multiple AeroVox performances during its premiere season.

AeroVox’s first two EP’s, "The Sky Highatrist EP" and "Rewind 2004-1" have garnered almost universal praise: The Deli Magazine calls AeroVox a “Rare breed in that they are quite deserving of the significant praise they have received.” "CMJ New Music Report" compares AeroVox to everything from Echo & The Bunnymen, Swervedriver and Doves to New Order, The Stone Roses and Interpol but concludes that “While there may be hints here and there of other bands... The Sky Highatrist EP shows just how far the quartet has gone in surpassing its reference points and becoming something entirely new.” "Neon NYC," "I-Jamming" and "Jenyk/Dot/Com" describe AeroVox as “shimmering,” “proudly anthemic” and “not as heralded as they ought to be,” respectively.

AeroVox’s latest release on the band’s own Glister-Pulse Recordings, the 6-song EP "Psycotrypotopical," further expands on their neo-psychedelic post-punk space-rock with an even more determined devotion to melody and harmony. From the spooky and soaring opener “ClownsurrounD” to the Bunnymen-esque “Your Coat of Arms” to life-affirming “Mantra 333,” "Psychotrypotopical" is an eclectic mix of sounds, moods and textures that never sounds like anyone but AeroVox. Produced, engineered and mixed as usual by the enigmatic recording collective We-MoFo and mastered by Jon Marshall Smith, listen to "Psycotrypotopical" for yourself and you'll see what all the fuss is all about...