Posted on December 11th, 2008 (1:12 pm) by Sean Morrissey

Two years after breaking onto the Bay area music scene, the Audrye Sessions have become among indie’s most promising and largely untapped new bands. Their double guitar onslaught mixed with Ryan Karazija’s stellar vocal offers a sound that helps set them apart from many of their peers. With the October 10th release of their sophomore effort, the self titled Audrye Sessions EP, and an opening slot performing with current rock darlings Vampire Weekend on December 10th in San Francisco, the future only knows what lies ahead of this four piece from Oakland. But what of the debut?

Released in June 2007, Braille offers up a little something for everyone, from the duel guitar shredding opener “the Paper Face,” to the delicate low-fi simplicity of “(Early in the Morning)”. In fact, the strongest argument I can make against this album is perhaps it is too ambitious for a first time out. The group never maintains one base sound for long, which may speak well of their musical diversity and technical prowess, but this could also lead to an underdeveloped style in future releases.

The very radio friendly “Juliette” is a well crafted sampling of everything this group from Livermore is truly capable of. Bassist Alicia Marie Campbell swelters through hot bass lines while Karazija’s vocal melody takes a page from Brandon Boyd’s successful playbook via simultaneously dominating and delicate style. Then, just after the last crash of cymbals from “Juliette,” the group shifts gears to a much more subdued, folk sound with “The Crows Came in.” This track is a heartbreaking acoustic ballad as stark a contrast from the album’s first tracks as any can imagine. Karazija’s mid 1st verse sniffles illustrate the low-fi, low budget beauty of Braille that is sometimes better concealed but still ever present.

“Relentless” is a power ballad for the ages, with “Free Falling” inspired guitar, motivational lyrics (I Believe in you, I bet my life on you) and the subdued verse/choral crescendo that is sure to send Bic’s flicking madly in celebration. For those tiring of the same Speedwagon sounds of yester year, follow up tracks “Porcelain” and “Nothing Pure can Stay” deliver a revitalizing shot of adrenalin. Karazija’s belting Lady Your Crazy, Your life is a lie helps assure listeners this band has all the piss, vinegar, and heartbreak we pine for.

A first and still maintaining favorite, “(Early in the Morning)” offers a respite of sorts, an interlude that helps divide the half mark in the album. Most notable here is the engaging full band vocal harmonies that show yet another side to this talented group. The sleepy four track quality is wholly endearing and at only 1:05 in length, this one may require repeat listening for those craving more.

The finger picking purity of “All I Need” helps bring out what might be the strongest songwriting on the album. Karazija’s home torn lyrics are among the more vulnerable on the album (I’ll just send you a postcard, tell you how I’m missing home. But I’ll leave out the fact I’m never coming back) and do more to paint him as a singer songwriter than a flash in the pan frontman whose strongest features are the lines in his face.

“She Had to Leave” draws parallels to the aforementioned “Relentless” but is able to stand taller, succeeding in places where the other failed. In “..Leave,” the band helps balance the load of this weighty ballad with a two-guitar composition and a full sound that is equally distributed in harmonious fashion. When the dust of the Discman has settled, this may stand as the highlight track of the album to many listeners.

The albums magnum closer “Dust and Bones” seems a track unto itself, a look ahead into the future discography of the Audrye Sessions. This track Incorporates String Arrangements and a more complicated song structure unlike anything else on the album. The ambient breakdown and resulting solo are epic at best, though perhaps better left shelved for a later release. “Dust and Bones” on merit alone is terrific, though at times (as with the horn heavy outro) it may come across as overly ambitious. In closing, from start to finish Braille undoubtedly delivers, but with so much ground covered in so short a time it leaves me to wonder, where do we go from here?

Track List:
1. The Paper Face (4:16)
2. Julianna (3:42)
3. The Crows Came in (4:19)
4. Relentless (3:26)
5. Porcelain (3:47)
6. (Early in the Morning) (1:05)
7. Perfect Sometimes (3:57)
8. All I Need (3:38)
9. She Had to Leave (3:36)
10. New Year’s Day (4:54)
11. Dust and Bones (6:05)

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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