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  Ether Aura  
  The Gaia Project  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

I am reminded of the Prince song All the critics love U in New York. The fact that Ether Aura hail from Detroit and sound nothing like Prince, or anything Detroit may be famed for (Motown, Techno, The White Stripes, The Stooges, etc.) shouldn't detract. No, Ether Aura sound like nothing you heard before…from Michigan. They sound everything like…Curve.

"But wait …all the critics hated Curve. Said they weren't a true indie band," you may protest. Agreed, but as fellow Curve clones Garbage could testify, the only critics that truly matter are the fans. They had plenty and Ether Aura are garnering their own loyal following also. Shoegazing is rising. An (under)groundswell of popular opinion. "We miss it and we want it back," the people cried. So back it came and the people…cried.

Yet I'd hesitate to paint Ether Aura into any scene, neo-shoegazing or other. They have their own distinctive take -- dreampop with hooks we might call it. With their debut full length Crash, they've put down a marker for all other pretenders to aspire to. This is the debut Garbage could have made, should have made, if only the songs had been more like Vow. All Doves Grey is what we call in the business, a stormer. Perfectly positioned to open the album, this is a fabulously enjoyable slice of power pop, instantly recognizable, yet so crafted it forces us to forgive any notion that it is derivative. Like the first time you heard Nirvana's Teen Spirit, your thought processes go rapidly from "hey, this sounds like….." to "hey, this is amazing!" Sure, later you'll admit it owes a debt to The Police, Pixies, whomever, but all you really care is that it's good.

There are fascinating interplays at work within the band dynamic. Guitarist Tony Hamera and vocalist Kate Hinote fuse perfectly. Hinote soars while Hamera pins it all down. Other times, Hinote is hushed while Hamera's guitars fly. The title track is another stunner. A beautiful, shimmering guitar canvas upon which Hinote paints another tonsil-tastic masterwork.

I'd stress that Bass (Haupt) and drums (King) are also excellent. I really like the mix. Hamera has managed a polished production job. On Falling the group enter Cocteau Twins territory, albeit tinged with a hint of alt country. Later I'm all you need sounds like the reverberated ballad All About Eve needed to make Ultraviolet work.

Ether Aura will find it tough to shake off the Curve and Garbage tags. Waiting reinforces this. But maybe this suits them at this moment in time? I don't think Ether Aura really mind. They LIKE those bands. They're only being true to themselves. In Crash they have made a really solid, yet varied long player that fans of those other bands will be only too grateful to discover.

A special mention, finally, to In Oceans. I'm a sucker for albums that close with their best song. Like their friends and colleagues The Lost Patrol, this is soaked through with goth twang, slide and effects. One for the repeat function, I feel.

Not so stupid girl.

Unreservedly recommended.

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