Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier


Sun Airway

  Dead Oceans  
Release Date:


Reviewed by:

I came across Sun Airway randomly by wandering into a show at SxSW this year. Actually, seeing as the bulk of the band consists of former members of The A-Sides, who i also came across randomly, i have sort of discovered this band by chance twice! What are the odds? No really, can some statistician tell me? At any rate, the point is that sometimes random encounters lead to good listening.

At SxSW, in the dingy and overly reverbing Red7, Sun Airway's music came across as a dense drone of sound, swirling in the humid air. Over that dense drone was layered a lovely male voice, and it is the voice that makes this music so compelling. Now, i have to admit that what Sun Airway are doing is not that unique these days (Animal Collective and Braids are two very similar bands i can name off the top of my head), but it is the rich male voice of Jon Barthmus that makes it noteworthy. I mean, i can tolerate Animal Collective and think they have some fine ideas, but what they are really lacking is a great voiced singer, and Sun Airway have that advantage over them.

The album starts with a rush of synth strings in Infinity which proceeds to move along at a catchy pace, not hurried and not too slow. Eventually a funky beat is added, and suddenly we are on the tune American West. This is just an epic song, with a great beat and a messy swirling sound. Barthmus soars here, and the band back him up with a really nice, dense tune.

Oh, Naoko features a syncopated drum beat, like something from a Mahogany song. Barthmus slurs his words casually as keys soar. Swallowed By The Night tinkles along with layers of keyboards. On Waiting On You the beat skitters slightly, not quite IDM, but more like a sped up casual drum loop. Here, Barthmus half sings, half talks fast, which makes this song stand out a bit from the two previous ones.

Actors has an expansive sound, with booming reverbed keyboards, and here Barthmus is almost buried in the mix, blending in as one accent in the sound, not overpowering or being overpowered. It's a very nice, balanced effect, and i think shows what the band are doing to remarkable effect.

Things get a little IDMish again on Shared Piano, which has drum hits and piano echoed and distorted. Sun Airway add in some sci-fi trills, and then on the chorus, Barthmus emotes dramatically as the keys and piano swell up. Very nice.

Sun Airway's guitarist Patrick Marsciell shines on Put The Days Away, where a chiming guitar riff keeps surfacing over the drone. This little accent pushes this song over the edge from "pretty cool" to "beautiful". More like this please!

Your Moon is another great song that sounds unmistakably Sun Airway, but is still a little different. The beat here is a drum loop sped up just slightly, so it sounds kind of sloppy. The keyboards here are slowed down a bit, a lovely piano-style riff in the background.

And finally the album ends with Five Years. When i first saw the title on the record, i hoped this was a cover of the old Bowie classic. Alas, it is just a song with the same name. However, this is a really pretty way to end the record; a slow song where Barthmus croons in layers as the drone thins out, allowing the keyboards to stand out front. A nice, slow end to the record.

So i am impressed. Sun Airway are doing this very contemporary sound really well.

Related Links:

Also on EvilSponge:
   Festival: SxSW 2011 - Wed.16.Mar.11
   Concert: Sat.21.May.11


Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.