Audiobender – Pour Me An Encore – Album Review
You know something? I woke up in the mood for something like this. I reached for Built To Spill first thing this morning and kind of got in that mindset for the free-wheeling aspect of rock-music combined with smart pop inclinations…and now here we are, with Audiobender no less! Can you believe that it was only March last year that we reviewed their album Reverb? How about another crazy statistic for you – that was our 300th review and we’ve published well-over 1000 now! After listening to the amount of growth from Audiobender during that same length of time, I’d have to say that they’re potentially evolving faster & harder than we are – that’s impressive!
After a quick twang/scratch intro, “Venus” kicks-in to high-gear instantly…and right away I’m brought back to the signature punch & energy of Audiobender’s sound…I remember this energy well. “Venus” is written in a pop/punk/alternative style…and while it might not have ended up being my favorite on their new album – I know what they’ve got here certainly works. For those that like a real mover…a song with bombastic energy, stops & starts…”Venus” is for you. To me, it seemed like the bridge between the gaps; “Venus” was a logical progression from what I’d heard on Reverb – but Audiobender goes further with their sound this time around and by comparison to the rest of the material on the record, you’ll find stronger stuff as it continues to play. Immediately truthfully – “Show Me A Sign” instantly hits the mark with wicked guitar-riffs, incredible vocals, intricate bass-lines and a seriously crisp & driven snap to the drum sounds. Almost like a popped & punked-up Led Zeppelin…4 Non Blondes kind of thing. Vocals towards the end of “Show Me A Sign” rise up to the occasion in the final moments and overall, I think you get a serious taste of the range and depth in this band from this cut…and ultimately, the refinement they’ve put into their sound.
They carry that confidently into “Easy,” which…I’m guessing is titled as such because it’s just about as “Easy” of a song to get into as humanly possible to write? Seriously sick song! It’s got a vibrantly Queens Of The Stone Age sound to the verse’s vocals and crunch of the main guitar riffs…like Rated R-era QOTSA…but I think the addition of the complexity brought in through the bass have this song offering a bit more of a diverse sound overall. In any event, “Easy” will pull you in immediately – the beginning groove is pretty much like…everything I want to hear…in my face…all at once. Love the pound on the steady beat of the drums, the melody in the vocals and the strength in these hooks. When I first started to listen to this cut, I didn’t feel like the chorus was quite as strong as the verse was…because…well…because MAN that verse is damn strong is why – but I also felt like the more I listened to this track and the bass of Paul Cingolani begin to walk up & down its fretboard & the vocals start to rip as the chorus would start, the more I liked it. Overall – I think this would be a wise choice for a potential single from this record.
“Stuck On The Floor Of A Hotel Bathroom” is nearly a sentence all on its own, this thing writes itself! Playful tones dominate the rock-party atmosphere this cut has…it’s got drama, it’s got flair, it’s got a hell of a rad breakdown. Solid power-pop grind and it’s got a lot of punch to its less-than three-minute length…it’s catchy…I like my Audiobender in the more serious-moods personally but I can’t deny that this works and I know that ultimately, they’re about having a great time and having fun like they are on this tune. Still…I can’t help but feel like I’m at least a little bit justified when I hear the innovative approach and creativity on “Stop Talking” to follow. Believe me, they’re still having plenty of fun – but that added weight of the intensity in their writing looms large with beastly presence on “Stop Talking.” Really impressed with this tune…not much about this is very typical at all as far as the writing is concerned – Audiobender has really started to branch out and explore their capabilities and I think a track like “Stop Talking” shows the impressive results that can be achieved through that. Very cleverly written and expertly performed – the pacing is unique & the music is really well put together; rolling drum-lines that are incredible, bass-lines for miles and the familiar crunch of the Audiobender guitars. Vocally “Stop Talking” is equally impressive with a whole host of ideas, layers and depth contributing yet more incredible ideas into this cut. Lead-vocalist Jared Richard gets his like, early-era Cornell-on in this track…sounds seriously awesome.
JUST IN CASE there has been any doubt about the musicianship, instrumentation and talent this band has – they let it RIP in an instrumental song of sonic-fury & force with “High & Dry.” I’ve always appreciated when a band that traditionally has vocals in their music takes a moment to acknowledge the instruments like this. I do know for a somewhat-fact as well that people in general, typically struggle with instrumental-anything unless it’s backing-up something they see on TV – BUT…I don’t expect that Audiobender will experience people tuning out here so much as they will people turning UP, because “High & Dry” absolutely slays. Really shows the depth of talent that exists between this three piece…drums are wicked, guitar solos and tones are insanely cool and the bass-lines are once again showing massive amount of skills and precision. Added harmonica even in this one, courtesy of guest-star Jake Flood, which capped this one off with one final addition to the music & perfect-layer…”High & Dry” rips & grips.
“Die Another Day” was maybe a bit too straight-ahead for me until it smoothed-out and slowed-down before the two-minute mark…so for me, I really appreciated the changing of pace and versatility of this tune. Wicked solos from the whole band during the second minute, pulling off something which is actually exceptionally tough in a three-piece band, which is all soloing at the same time and still having the song not fall apart, sound cohesive and sound tight. I think that “Die Another Day” could have fallen victim to being ‘just another rock song’ had this three-piece not pushed themselves creatively to really make a moment in time out of this. As a result, that extra effort completely pays off in my opinion – I thought the mid-section of this entire track in between its amped-up choruses was one of the most impressive sections of instrumentation on this whole record. Give’em some credit – what they’re doing in the final minutes of “Die Another Day” isn’t an easy task…they just make it sound that way!
Things take a decidedly Kings Of Leon-esque approach in the final two tracks listed on Pour Me An Encore – especially in “I Tried.” With a flashy sound & tone on the guitars and extra twang to Jared’s vocals, “I Tried” shows Audiobender in a different light than we’ve heard on the record so far and one that works strongly in their favor. The pacing to the verse gives it a real attention-grabbing and captivating sound and the chorus completely takes this track to the next-level. Throw in a wild-bridge & breakdown, re-fire up this chorus, sign, seal & deliver it – they’ve done a fantastic job on this cut and it’s got a widely accessible sound that’s bound to appeal to many out there. They deepen that Americana-edge to their sound on “This Is The End” which takes them closer to something like Brother Cane-meets-CCR, but still cohesive to the added dimension that “I Tried” brings into the record. They’ve had this entire album flowing in solid directions…great layout of the songs and how this entire record progresses as it plays; like I’d mentioned in the early parts of this review, it felt like they started us with what we know about and are familiar with in the sound of Audiobender – and by the end, they’re sounding all-new. I definitely appreciate the range of ideas and the evolution I hear in the band on this album.
But WAIT! There’s MORE! You get a “(hidden track)” on this record, which really puts Audiobender in a vibe like we’ve never heard them in yet. Nearly a 50’s melody-meets-showtune, they’ve giving it the David Lee Roth here and just having some flat-out fun throughout the beginning of this cut. It’s got a beauty melody and you can like, HEAR the band smiling in the process of making this one…or it might just be the excitement and anticipation of the fact they’re about to haul this candylicious-melody into overdrive and blaze out the ending! The music speeds-up perfectly and Audiobender takes us for one final ride before really adding in the final theatrics to close the album down. It’s fun, it’s memorable and the enthusiasm Audiobender has for music continues to be outrageously contagious – there’s a ton to like about Pour Me An Encore and it certainly highlights a band that is really coming into their own.
Buy the new album Pour Me An Encore from iTunes direct here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/pour-me-an-encore/id1163545706
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