Oakland, California-based alternative band Audrye Sessions is a sort of throwback to the alternative bands of the mid-nineties minus any hints of grunge or post-grunge.
Instead of any Nirvana or Kurt Cobain-specific influence, the San Francisco Bay Area quartet (Ryan Karazija — guitar, vocals; Alicia Marie Campbell — bass; Michael Knox — guitar; James Leste — drums) has been decidedly more impacted by Radiohead and the progressive rock stylings of Muse.
The band opens their self-titled debut with “Turn Me Off”, which shows off their enormous energy and also highlights the similarity between Karazija and Thom Yorke’s voice. The upbeat tempo masks the song’s disheartening theme of soldiers returning from war. Karazija recalled a television show he was watching with James Gandolfini interviewing soldiers, and the song relates to these men coming home “so messed up that you want to be shut off” (press release).
It’s not an indication of a political preference by any means, but it does highlight Karazija’s penchant for spontaneous songwriting where he’d be inspired by seemingly random events: “I’ll wait for lyrics to happen, and one day I’ll find something perfect.”
For the most part, Audrye Sessions straddles that lane between ballad and non-ballad type songs, and in many cases that comes in the form of hybrids where both the relaxed portions become distinctly agitated and relentless, as in “Perfect, Sometimes,” the merry-go-round romp “Where You’ll Find Me,” and the Radiohead-like anthem “Awake.”
“Julianna” and “The Paper Face” are the LP’s two standout tracks, both being the best representations of the band’s true and more focused sound. Whereas other tracks are segmented in parts via tempo or vibe, “Julianna” is much more consistent in melody and method while “The Paper Face” is better dynamically balanced with nary a single strain or stress.
There are a couple of dry patches throughout the album, but as a whole Audrye Sessions manage to coalesce differing musical approaches into one distinct and stable form. Not bad for a somewhat patchwork band that owes its name to a CD burner commercial that happened to be on the air the same time a venue was asking for their name.