Aaron and the Lord
Debut Album: "Aaron and the Lord"
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Steven Lord
“Isolation” implies a certain element of bleakness. Forced into it, we can lose touch with reality.
For Aaron Perrino, however, the isolation of 2020 brought a staggering sense of clarity and a chance meeting with Steven Lord.
Time spent in lockdown gave us a unique opportunity to take stock, says the singer and guitarist. “We got time to examine the power structures, governments, corporations, media, years of existential dread, and question why we settle for such mediocrity in our lives.”
Perrino is the distinctive voice of the Sheila Divine, the short-lived but much-loved Boston band that graced the fertile local scene, as well as big stages as far afield as Belgium, in the years surrounding Y2K. Growing disillusioned with the grind of band life, Perrino stepped away in 2003 to embark on a solo project that would become his next obsession. Inside a half-dozen years, Dear Leader released nearly as many full-length albums, each one more dramatic and yearning than the last.
The Sheila Divine eventually reconvened, both onstage and in the studio. But the pandemic forced Perrino, like the rest of us, deep inside himself at home. Unsurprisingly, that led to a potent burst of creativity.
Together (virtually speaking) with his latest collaborator, Record Producer and multi-instrumentalist Steven Lord of the soulful rock band Dirty Bangs. Perrino wrote and Lord produced and recorded a ten-spot of vivid, slicing indie rock songs, with nods back to the chiming guitars and stentorian vocals of the bands they grew up on and forward to a new kind of pop-rock future.
Fans of the Hub’s musical heyday of the 1980s and ‘90s will not mistake the heavenly voice of Tanya Donelly, a principal member of Throwing Muses and the Breeders who went on to form her own exhilarating group, Belly. Donelly, whose vocals buoy Perrino’s on four of the tracks here, lends a big-beat girl-group sound to the album’s second single, “This Love Ain’t Dead.”
The lead single, “Stupid Game,” welcomes the hyper-melodic vocals of Mike Bethmann of the Boston-by-way-of-Buffalo band Tugboat Annie. Bethmann also appears on “Let It Go,” a melancholy ballad on which Perrino takes his somber cue from the Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler. Elsewhere, “World on Edge” combines dub-reggae atmospherics with a rousing chorus that would have vied for airtime on MTV circa 1985.
The album’s last track, “Soon You’ll Find Home,” opens like a bedroom demo, though it soon unspools into a grand – and generous – meditation on life, lineage, and the places we belong. With any luck, you found that place in your own home during the pandemic, just as Perrino did.
With crystal mixes on several tracks from the redoubtable producer and engineer Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Pixies, Morphine), the self-titled debut album from Aaron and the Lord puts these years of existential dread behind us. It settles for nothing. Instead, it aspires ever higher.