Philly six-piece Audible recently released their latest EP “Isolette”, which as of this writing you can still download for free here – but move fast, as I’ve been assured that’s only temporary. In fact, you might want to do that now, and have these great new tunes as a companion for the review. Go ahead. I’ll wait for you.
Congratulations! You’re in for quite a ride. This is the band’s first outing since their fabulous 2009 full-length “In Simple Intervals”, and it serves up the story arc of a rock opera of yore without the two-record length, while packing twice the emotional wallop.
Before we get into the content, if you dig smart pop-rock with guy/girl harmonies and great musicianship with a loose, authentic vibe, you’ll love this for nothing other than the music. There are great memorable choruses in these mostly mid-tempo, introspective tracks – songs that smolder and evolve as they reveal their secrets. Interesting guitar tones, airy vocals, and masterful arrangements are anchored by some seriously tasteful and musical drumming (I just HAVE to call this out here – because drummer Steve Cawley really plays for the song – on several of my many repeated listens, I’ve delighted in just focusing in on what he’s doing). So, you could concentrate solely on the music…but you wouldn’t be able to escape the palpable emotional undercurrent – the air around these pieces is heavy with it.
So that’s where the content comes in – what we’ve got here isn’t trumped up emo-drama equating crushes or feelings of personal isolation to epic struggles (I mean that’s fine too, in it’s own way) but something that is in a whole different league of “real”. The story goes like this: Audible nucleus Mike Kennedy was all set to start touring behind “In Simple Intervals” with the band when his wife (and Audible’s bassist) Kristine went into extremely early labor just 25 weeks into her pregnancy. If you’ve ever been there (and I have), that’s the “holy shit, we’re not playing games here anymore” type stuff that makes pretty much everything else you’ve gotten worked up about recently pale in comparison. And amazingly, Mike went ahead and documented the experience in these songs – they should put this in the Library Of Congress for its sociological value alone.
But let me be clear about something: this collection is anything BUT a “bummer”. Maybe the most amazing thing about it is the way that even in the darkest moments, the optimism is palpable. You actually don’t need to have had a similar experience to hear yourself in these songs – and that, my friends, is true songcraft. If you know the background, it’s fascinating and the metaphors come a little clearer – but if you don’t, it’s still the story of wrestling with major uncertainty and knowing what it feels like to be completely powerless, pushing through it while waiting for the clouds to clear, and the final quiet release of having made it (check out the gorgeous “Fourteen Weeks”).
Yes, like all good rock operas, there’s a happy ending – on the EP and in life too, evidenced in little Alex’s appearance in the video for “The Last Thing I Remember” filmed at the band’s Y-Rock session at WXPN’s studios. Funny I should mention that, since the band will be joining us at that very location this coming Friday (3/19) at the second Used Wigs Live event! You will NOT want to miss this!