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Aeroplane 1929's latest effort is perfect for the road

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

I've given up on the radio. There's only so many times I can listen to the same song -- doesn't matter what "artist" sings it or what the title of the song is, it's the same thing it was in 1998 and the same thing it was in 1988. (I'd keep going, but I was born in '85.)

I need something different. Something "outside the box," as they like to say. When I received Aeroplane 1929's album "The Holy Ghost," I didn't know what to think, and I liked that. The album's artwork -- a wide-eyed octopus on a murky green background -- caught my eye immediately. Unusual? Definitely. I eagerly ripped through the shrink wrap (which I am a master of removing, by the way).

Jimmy Eat World's latest would have to go back in its case, despite the fact that it's all I'd been listening to since Christmas. Aeroplane 1929's sophomore release greeted me with an upbeat acoustic run which made me smile -- I'm a sucker for anything acoustic. Lead singer Alex Mazzaferro's vocals are soft and he has the slightest bit of twang when singing what the band describes as "indie/folk/experimental" music.

Then came the steel guitar. This definitely wasn't country music so I was happy to hear a band reaching out and using something different.

While the lyrics were meaningful, it was more the way they were delivered that stood out to me. When Mazzaferro screams from the back of the studio during the bridge of "Locomotives" that "I've got the red, white and blues!", shivers went down my spine.

The laid-back quality the album reminded me a bit of Drive-Thru Records alums Steel Train, as did the diversity of the instruments used a cornet on "Locomotives," the opening track; a glockenspiel on "The Holy Ghost"; and a Rhodes (an electromechanical piano) on "Flag & Crucifix."

Once the excitement of "Locomotives" fades, the rest of the album reveals itself like a flower slowly blooming.

"Penelope," the second song on the disc, has a line that continues to be stuck in my head. "We're always makin' love or makin' war," Mazzaferro sings.

"Flag & Crucifix" is the ultimate closing track, too -- memorable, but it doesn't overshadow the rest of the album.

The wonder of each of the six tracks on the EP is the way they develop -- the way they emerge, like an octopus from the gloomy depths. The only way this album could be better is if it were a full-length LP.

Wil Mulhern, drummer, brings a steady, sunny beat to every song, as does bass player Jacob Goldman. Mazzaferro and Noah Goldman share guitar duties expertly and Alex Syner tickles the ivories for the band. They produce a balanced and quiet but intense brand of folk-rock? Not-quite-bluegrass?

What genre does this eclectic and beautiful album fit in? As Aeroplane 1929 would say, "It's as vague as the Holy Ghost now."

But does the genre really matter? It's the Eagles plus Allison Kraus plus a bit of Bob Dylan.

OK, I'll give it one last try. It's road music. The band clearly travels a lot and this is definitely the kind of music you'd pop into your CD player on a trip cross-country. Roll down the windows, crank it up and enjoy.

The band released "The Holy Ghost" in July on Topshelf Records, based in Hampden. Members come from the Springfield area and New Haven, Conn. and they recently completed a mini-tour in Pennsylvania. Their next show is Jan. 25 in Easthampton.

For more information on Aeroplane 1929 visit their Web site at