Aer’s skillful debut album set the bar for the Boston duo’s innovative and engaging songs. The album, The Bright Side, revealed two musicians with something to say and a unique way of saying it, earning notable accolades and acclaim. Now, the group’s sophomore effort, Aer, reveals an exciting step forward in the evolution of the pair’s music.
David von Mering and Carter Schultz formed Aer in [what year?] in Wayland, MA, combining rap, reggae, pop and indie rock aesthetics to create their own brand of music. The duo’s first two mixtapes, Water On The Moon and The Reach, were released in 2010 and 2011, and Aer unveiled their debut EP What You Need in late 2011. The EP landed at No. 1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart. The Bright Side, followed in July of 2012, earning the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Albums chart and working its way into the Billboard’s Top 200. Music from the album has appeared on the NFL Network, an Etnies advertisement featuring Ryan Scheckler and three episodes of MTV’s The Real World.
Following the success of The Bright Side, Aer began working on their self-titled sophomore effort in late 2012. David began working on the instrumentation last November and the pair settled in to record the music in February of 2013. The musicians worked primarily in their homes in Boston and spent 10 days working in a rented house in Los Angeles over the summer, all with David at the production helm. The aim was to showcase a broader range of stylistic and tonal adaptability.
“We’re taken as a very fun, light, airy, bright band,” Carter says. “But we wanted to show our versatility and stray away from that a little bit with this new album. And we did that – it’s darker, more hip-hop and rawer. It’s definitely got a darker sound to it.”
“We wanted to make something that had a little more mystery to it and a little bit more depth,” David adds. “We felt that our next album should have the full spectrum sound and subject matter.”
Aer also wanted to convey a more honest sensibility in the lyrics, which is fully on display in songs like first single “Won’t Laugh.” The actual themes haven’t shifted away from the musician’s own experiences but they’re delivered with notable bluntness rather than veiled in metaphor, something both artists feel was important this time around. Carter’s spitfire rhymes unpack the ups and downs of life in a real way, giving the listener a sense of personal conversation. “This album is like hanging out with us in a living room and just talking,” David says. “It’s about being a lot more honest as opposed to someone just saying ‘Oh yeah I’ve been good, how are you?’ It opens everything up.”
“Won’t Laugh” is a moody number that meshes the musicians’ indie rock and hip-hop influences, showcasing the natural evolution from The Bright Side. The number emerged from a jam session between the two musicians, who fostered it into a compelling single that Carter feels is a statement about following what you’re passionate about without concern for external criticism. “I’m Not Sorry,” a raw rap number, is what David calls a “good fuck you song” while “Ex” combines acoustic guitar lines and reggae tones to grapple with unfortunate backslide to a former flame. The songs find cohesion even as the musicians play with various musical styles, all coming together to create a markedly impressive collection.
“We see this album as our first very complete project where we’re 100 percent on the same page,” Carter says. “To us, it’s a statement and we want to keep that as simple as possible so we decided to self-title it. We just want to keep it very focused on the name and not dilute it too much when we’re confident about what we have.”
The musicians also considered their live performance while creating the new songs. Aer has performed around North America and Europe with artists like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Slightly Stoopid, Action Bronson, Iggy Azalea, ASAP Rocky and Hoodie Allen, and cultivated a dynamic live show that augments their recorded tracks. The band will tour extensively on Aer, and will embark on a headlining tour in early 2014 surrounding the album’s release. Ultimately their goal is to create interesting, well-crafted songs that they can share with as many people as possible.
“I just want to be able to play really great shows and really celebrate with people,” David says. “At every show I see as a celebration of life in general. I want our fans to know us as their friends. Know the good and bad sides of us and know that we’re real people. And when we have a concert they get to enjoy that aspect of it. For me, with bands that I’m a fan of, I geek out and want to know everything about them. I want our fans to feel the same way.”