For the Airport 77s, music is about attitude — and altitude. Grounded in the timeless tenets of power pop, the Maryland trio assembles a sturdy airframe of killer hooks, catchy beats and sneaky Zevonesque wordplay, then applies enough energy to take flight. If you find yourself dancing, well, that’s the entire point.
Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, bassist Chuck Dolan, drummer John Kelly, and guitarist Andy Sullivan came together over a shared love of obscure 1970s nuggets like “Back of My Hand (I’ve Got Your Number)” by the Jags and “Nuclear Boy” by 20/20. Over the subsequent five years, they forged their sound in bars, VFW’s, front porches and Fourth of July floats across the Washington region.
Along the way, they have jammed with heroes like the King of Power Pop, Paul Collins, won the occasional battle of the bands, and developed a repertoire of more than 100 songs. The steady work and long nights taught them some important lessons: “If we’re going to play original material, it’s got to be good enough to follow ‘Jessie’s Girl’ in the set,” says Andy.
Grounded by the pandemic, the Airport 77s used their layover to book studio time at Arlington’s legendary Inner Ear Studio, where they knocked out eight songs in two days in October with engineer Don Zientara at the board. The band’s self-produced debut release is called “Rotation” — the act of pulling back the yoke to lift the aircraft’s nose off the runway.
No, the Airport 77s are not airline pilots, but they do want to take you somewhere: to that magical place where tight harmonies, chunky guitars and a relentless beat can make the world right, if only for three minutes at a time.
“Rotation,” released Jan. 1, 2021, is available on all the usual streaming platforms, including theairport77s.bandcamp.com/releases. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out:
A closer look at “Rotation”:
“Christine’s Coming Over” details the frantic, pre-date preparations of a slob who realizes he should wash the dishes and take down his Zeppelin poster if he wants to get lucky.
“(When You’re Kissing on Me Do You Think Of) James McAvoy” is sung by a protagonist who worries his paramour would profess her love for all sorts of distasteful things (including Coldplay) if a certain Scottish actor took her out for dinner.
“Shannon Speaks” takes a turn for the surreal as Chuck tells the story of a mysterious, unconscious visitor who might provide the skeleton key to the modern era — a “Quinn the Eskimo” for the post-truth age.
“Wild Love” recalls Cheap Trick in their arena-thumping heyday, complete with tongue-waggling guitar heroics.
The chiming “All the Way” charts a relationship that starts on the second day of summer with a hopeful infatuation and ends…well, you decide. Imagine the Raspberries meets 38 Special.
“Girl of My Dreams” is a cover of the classic tune released in 1979 by Bram Tchaikovsky. Eleven years ago, John traveled to Brighton, England, to interview Ronnie Thomas, the man who wrote this power pop gem.
“Bad Mom!” details the anxieties of modern parenthood, from frenemies in the school pickup lane to side-eye on the sidelines of the soccer field. It’s a “Harper Valley PTA” for 2021 — with a surprisingly tasteful bass solo.
The record closes out with “Make it Happen”, a secular gospel number of sorts in which Andy vows to ascend to Rock Valhalla and then uses his guitar as a rocket to get there. He’s not traveling alone: “I’m gonna make it happen soon – make it happen with you,” he promises.