By Robbie Nevel
Dark Horse Flyer was a dream that started back in 1974 when two close friends decided to make awesome, loud music. Don Mularz and Scott Lane, both guitarist and vocalists, enlisted the help of guitar virtuoso John Tillman and a few others to create a classic rock powerhouse called Breeze. It was promising. The music was good, the drive was there. They had a full album written. Then, it suddenly came crashing down as business out of their control sent things into a tailspin. The album was never released. Everyone went their separate ways. Don kept pursuing music while Scott took to the corporate world. Tillman became a session guitarist. Everything was calm.
Then in 2011, Scott Lane decided it had been long enough. Making some life changes had revealed to him that it was time to get loud again. Luckily, he and Don Mularz stayed close throughout the years – Scott had even contributed songwriting input and artwork to Don’s various rock and roll outlets. They had also stayed in touch with John Tillman. Unable to get the old band back together, they enlisted high-profile local musicians Richard Taylor on bass, Bob Taylor on keyboards, and Raul Hernandez on drums. From the ashes of Breeze, arose Dark Horse Flyer.
With their debut album Breakaway, Dark Horse Flyer soars high with nine catchy songs and burning jams.
Their music is a wild, bluesy rock and roll party informed by the likes of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Allman Brothers Band, and all time three-guitar champions Lynyrd Skynyrd. Occasionally, the crazy times take a back seat to jazzy introspections more in the vein of songwriting masters Steely Dan.
The band’s musical mastery is not shy to show itself; the album starts with blistering instrumental riff rocker “Hurricane,” featuring guitar solos worthy of Woodstock. Showing off their fluidity, the very next track “Seasons Four” is full of an acoustic jazzy feel that suits the expertly crafted ballad. Later in the album, “You’ve Got a Hold On Me” brings in a rhythmic vibe worthy of Santana.
The retro feel of the album, mastered by studio heavyweight Bernie Grundman (Steely Dan, Michael Jackson), is very much intermingled with a feeling of new discovery and influence not present as of yet in blues-infused classic rock.
This week, the band released a vinyl version of Breakaway that resonates because of its outstanding quality: the 48-minute album was recorded at 45 rpm and spread throughout two records, making for a top quality audio experience.
If a “dark horse” is someone who comes out of nowhere to exceed expectations and come out on top, Dark Horse Flyer embodies the name and then some. They are not only on top of their game, but they have begun the intriguing task of reinventing it.