If Boy George and Grace Jones had a baby his name could be Kevin Aviance. The androgynous Manhattan fashion diva is warming up audiences around the country with his extravagant live appearances and the release of his second album “Entity.”
The New York club scene has known about Aviance, a former D.C. resident, for years. Now the performance artist is ready to turn his act up a notch to cross over from established club maven to mainstream newcomer.
In a world of overproduced teen pop, punk rock and rap, Kevin Aviance adds new-millennium exuberance to the music scene with his eclectic shows and catchy dance tunes.
It’s not surprising that he says Boy George and Grace Jones are his primary sources of inspiration.
Born Eric Snead in Richmond, Va., Aviance took his name from the legendary House of Aviance in Washington D.C., where he started his career. The entertainer joined the hedonistic group of singers, dancers and others and became involved in a world of avant-garde fashion, art and theater.
After a stint in Miami, Aviance moved to New York City and launched a successful singing career that included multiple Billboard dance hits such as “Din Din Da,” “Rhythm Is A Bitch” and, more recently, “Alive,” which has become a gay circuit classic.
On “Entity,” Aviance continues his uplifting tribal house formula with the help of producers Tony Moran, Amy Chamos and Nick de Biase. The threesome previously collaborated on the soundtrack to the gay movie “Circuit.”
The album kicks off with a heavy dose of attitude on “Aviancetro,” a spoken track accompanied by a single handclap has Aviance rhythmically commanding “all the colors of the rainbow tribe” to “look up” and “feel the sun.”
This tribal tune is followed by “Alive,” the pumping house anthem with infectious string hooks and background vocals. The album also includes a bonus mix of the song by Victor Calderone and The Tribalist.
Tony Moran’s production skills are omnipresent on the album, with his polished dance arrangements. Tracks such as “Give It Up,” “Power” and “Ready To Go” are plain house songs that favor Moran’s fierce soundboard skills over Aviance’s vocal contributions.
Aviance is strong on the climactic ballad “Seattle,” which features some electrical guitar sections that are refreshingly unusual for the club singer.
Matthew Brookshire and Curtis Moore wrote the song, which exposes the performer’s dramatic side when he laments about a broken relationship.
Other highlights include the radio-friendly “Freak It (Live Out Loud)” with its playful ’80s-inspired synth loops and voice-alterations, and the up-tempo ballad “Fire,” which includes elements that are slightly reminiscent of Dirty Vegas’ alt-pop hit “Days Go By.”
Aviance’s most distinct contribution on this album is the persistent lyrics about self-confidence and determination. Each song along with the spoken interludes on the album capture his drive for tolerance and acceptance. But this powerful spirit is often diminished by the overabundant beats and baselines.