It's 2015, and at least on a certain level I'm not sure I can (or want to) buy into the "artist as a tortured genius" trope anymore.
But then a story like Josh Scott's catches my eye (and ear) and I'm forced, at least momentarily, to reconsider. Another product of the whirlwind chaos of Eau Claire in the early 2000s, Scott was the frontman of Amateur Love, a band that some called the best band they'd ever heard. As futures unfurled and fates coalesced, Amateur Love collapsed (at the will of Scott), and the majority of its members following Justin Vernon to North Carolina, continuing the arc of his band at the time - DeYarmond Edison.
Scott retreated, and for years, it seems - a plethora of extraordinary musicians from Eau Claire reached out to him - begged him to come back. There were bands forming, Vernon achieved meteoric success as Bon Iver, the remaining members of DeYarmond Edison formed Megafaun and Peter Wolf Crier, and Chris Porterfield eventually formed Field Report. Scott hid, retreated, resisted advances - he had his own demons to face, his own proverbial cabin in the woods he was not yet ready to enter.
After battles, life, and countless songs written, Scott reentered the studio, April Base, that is - with Vernon at the helm as Producer, and with a cast of some of the most phenomenal musicians Eau Claire had to offer, and recorded, as Aero Flynn, what I can only call a masterpiece.
This album churns and roils, is sweeping heartbreak and relentless determination. It is an album for sleepless nights and fever dreams. There is something so pressing, so vital about Scott's harrowing vocals framed by an immense wave of sounds and silences. I'm reminded of how I felt the first time I heard 'Kid A', or 'Illinois', or perhaps most fittingly, 'For Emma Forever Ago'. There is truth to that trope, the artist who needs to make art, the album that contains memories and arteries and tears and unbridled need. This is that album for Scott. I think Chris Porterfield summed it up perfectly, perhaps, when he wrote this about Aero Flynn:
"I believe that this record, this long-awaited record, is quite seriously a life-or-death record. Josh had to make it to stay alive. And it must be heard in the context of deferred health, deferred relationships, deferred dreams, deferred healing. As spit in the fucking face of the symptoms of disease, like rot and destruction and apathy and cynicism
When we were all together in Eau Claire in the early aughts, we would sometimes gather around a tube T.V. and watch the film about Wilco. When Tweedy sings about how he was maimed/saved by rock and roll, I think we probably believed it. I’ll never cast dispersion on what someone has gone through, but I do know this: Josh Scott has been maimed by rock and roll. I pray that it can save him..."
Aero Flynn's debut album is streaming now here. Pre-order it, and then come with me to see them at Eaux Claires. I promise you, you will not regret it.