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The Drainage | March 22, 2018

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Forget Sonic Highways Here’s Audiobender – Reverb

J. Simpson
  • On February 26, 2015

Review Overview

Alright With Me
On And On
Here Come That Girl
One In The Hand
Say Goodnight

Really Good

For guitar geeks and drum fiends. Jared Richard's guitar howls like Hendrix, while Jeff Lemas' drums cut through the mix. Glammy power pop played with sludgy intensity.

The other day, I was standing around in my kitchen, talking with my friend about how much new Dave Grohl sounded like old Dave Grohl – how the Foo Fighters had essentially been writing the same song their entire career.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if you like big hook arena ballads, which obviously a lot of people do. It seems somehow odd that the Foo Fighters are such blue collar, nuts and bolts however, given Grohl’s previous participation in tearing down the lumbering dinosaurs, in Nirvana.

I’d rather hear my stripped down rock ‘n roll from a bunch of regular guys, like San Jose’s Audiobender.

Audiobender are a power pop hard rock trio, comprised of Jared Richard, on guitar and vocals, and Paul Cingolani and Jeff Lemas, on bass and drums. The three had formerly played together in a group called Soulorgy. Reverb is their brand new LP.

There is something refreshing about hearing three guys who are just doing their thing. In a time when it is all too easy and commonplace to sound entirely perfect and slick and polished, with the right media campaign and the right haircut, the somewhat raw sound of Reverb actually makes it stand out, makes you lean in and pay attention. Audiobender play a kind of glammy, anthemic power pop, but with a muddy, grungy, grinding attack, like The Melvins with Bon Scott on lead vocals.

The charms of Reverb are obvious from the opening seconds of album opener “Alright With Me”, which opens with glistening feedback, which opens up into a quick skiffle two-step drum beat, that sounds like John Lee Hooker or ZZ Top on crank. The guitar is a bog of churning rhythm and barbed hooks, which the pitchy drums cut through like a razor. The problem with a lot of sludgy music is it gets mired down and lost in the low end, becoming a featureless blur. Audiobender are taking elements of sludge – the intensity, the precision – but making it their own. Such is the power of being yourself.

It’s little details like this that make you realize they’re real, competent musicians, with an ear for production and songwriting.

There is always something to like in an Audiobender song, even when they get to close to ’90s alt-radio for these ears. Jeff Lemas is a drumming cyclotron, kicking, pounding, and punching, always on top of the beat, quick on his toes. Drum nerds, get this, just to slather over Lemas’ diamond fills.

The same can be said for guitar geeks and Richard’s lead guitar. Jared Richard clearly has a love for Hendrix – you can hear it in his singing feedback, in his tasty hooks and fills between the bars. Richard reminds me why I love the guitar so damn much – the soul, the humanity, the heat, the passion, the discipline and precision. The heart and mind are working in perfect synchronicity, and a person can really express themselves. On “One In The Hand”, my personal favorite and arguably the best song on Reverb, you can really hear the Richard is a beautiful person, soulful and heartfelt, with its chorusy “Little Wing” guitar sound.

It is details like this that make you revisit Reverb over and over – they snare you, and keep you. Some people shout in your face, and demand your attention, which you never want to give. Others invite. Audiobender are like a warm campfire on a dark night. Or a warm garage, complete with friends and refreshments, to get out of the cold.

So don’t believe the hype. Go looking for quality for yourself, and applaud it when you find it.

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Reverb is out now at iTunes and Amazon.

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  • That’s definitely the first time anyone mentioned my name and Hendrix in the same sentence… thanks!! 😉