Blue Aeroplanes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Blue Aeroplanes 

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Over the course of a ten-year career, the Blue Aeroplanes haven't been a band so much as a large, freewheeling musical co-op. Generally working as a three-guitar sextet, they've endured countless personnel changes, and their records have incorporated up to a dozen regular guest artists. The only remaining member of the original band is lead singer/lyricist Gerard Langley, whose beat-influenced verbiage appears on all their records. Like many English bands the Aeroplanes have an unabashedly arty sensibility. Unlike many English bands they consistently shun keyboards, canned dance beats, and whimpering melancholia. Unfortunately, their ever-shifting lineup has had a destabilizing effect on their music. Largely lackluster outings like Swagger (1990) and their new release Life Model (Beggars Banquet) were made following major personnel changes, and both suffer from overproduction, saccharine preciousness, and uninspired songwriting. At their best, though, the Blue Aeroplanes exhibit an admirable disdain for musical formulas and trendiness. Their finest records, Spitting Out Miracles (1987) and Beatsongs (1991), include fiddle-and-mandolin-dappled folk, droning psychedelia, rhythmically jagged experimental excursions, and tough, no-frills guitar rock. Live, the band skip their more eccentric songs and deliver sophisticated, alluring pop rock. Friday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve Double.

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