Audiobender are a three-piece rock band hailing from San Jose, California. They were formed in 2012 by singer/songwriter and guitarist Jared Richard who recruited former Soulorgy bandmates Paul Cingolani (bass) and Jeff Lemas (drums). Their music style is essentially alternative rock, with a healthy dose of blues thrown in, somewhere between Jet and The White Stripes, with Jared Richard’s expressive lead vocals sometimes bringing to mind Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, Caleb Followill and Roger Daltrey.
Following on from their very well received debut album, Reverb, this live album captures their first ever performance at the legendary Whisky A Go Go venue. If any band is suited to releasing a live album, it’s Audiobender. Whilst the Reverb album did a pretty good job of capturing their musical essence in a studio environment, you can tell that this band feel most at home playing in front of a crowd, putting on a hell of a show with the amps turned up to eleven.
After a brief intro, they start with the same song that opens Reverb, Alright With Me. It is the same quality musicianship and performance level that you hear on the album, but this live version has an extra vibrancy and raw energy that so often bands struggle to capture in the confines of the studio. The balance of the sound is good, though the guitar could have been just a little louder in the mix.
However, this allows Jared Richard’s powerful voice to take centre stage, backed up by the Keith Moon-in-a-cyclone drumming of Jeff Lemas, whose drum sound is fantastic, and held together by Paul Cingolani, who plays some fluid bass runs towards the end of the song. They stick to the Reverb running order with next song On and On which shows a lighter, more laid back side to their oeuvre and we get to hear some nice lead guitar from Jared Richard.
Things get cookin’ with MFH (Here Come That Girl), which Jared announces as ‘a drinking song’, channelling the raw power of The Stooges and MC5 with echoes of Hendrix, Led Zep and a more modern band like Wolfmother. The main riff is a classic and the way they bring things down in the middle for a ‘girl walks into the bar’ monologue, then build it back up again for a raucous finish, works very well.
The next tracks Sweet and One In The Hand are a nice contrast, showing their more melodic side with 60’s-style major-to-minor chord changes and a bouncy, McCartney esque bassline from Paul Cingolani on the former. One In The Hand is a proper ballad with some nice, almost jazzy, guitar work and a chance for Jared to show his vocal versatility. He also contributes an impressive solo, though the sound does come across as sparse at that point, as he is the only guitarist.
Next comes a taster of their upcoming second album, with the song Venus. It’s a feisty upbeat rocker in the vein of MFH and the kind of song the band do best, in my opinion. It has a great hook and could possibly be a potential first single from that album. Next track Stop Talking is announced as a “new, old one” and features some fabulous meaty riffs and exceptional drumming from Jeff Lemas. They close with Let It Bleed, the final song from their Reverb album and it’s an excellent finish. The band sound really on fire by this point, with every member getting to let rip, including an eviscerating guitar solo from Jared Richard.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable live album from a band still early in their career, but already accumulating some fantastic songs. The tracks from Reverb sound as good, or even better, performed live than on the studio album and the new song Venus suggests that their second one will be something worth waiting for.
Verdict: 8.4 out of 10