Calling your band “Audible” is sort of like calling a movie “Visible.” Well, actually, it’d be more like calling the studio “Visible,” but you get the picture. It’s an understatement of grand proportions, leaving the listener with few, if any, expectations, other than that you can hear it. Well, that is, unless it’s really low-frequency ambient music, in which case the name is somewhat ironic. But lucky for us, that’s not the case. But all of this pointless yammering about the implications of a musical artist’s chosen name is really getting in the way of the important stuff, namely the actual sound that Audible creates.
Made up of a few ex-members of Matt Pond PA, Lefty’s Deceiver and Mazarin, Audible sounds like what you’d expect them to, having learned of their performing resume. Mixing the acoustic with the electric, the pastoral with the psychedelic and the melancholy with the joyous, there are many fabulous sounds being stirred up on the band’s debut album, Sky Signal. Frontman Mike Kennedy and keyboardist Mary Garito are the two earliest members of the band, and as such, are the two central figures in crafting Audible’s sound. Being the main songwriter, Kennedy is the one responsible for writing the music. But Garito shines in her own way, adding in the electronic flourishes that make the album sparkle.
Kennedy’s tenure in Matt Pond PA is somewhat transparent in his songwriting. Like his Pennsylvanian peer, Kennedy writes lovely chamber pop tunes that are beautifully layered and deceptively simple. Tunes like “October Song” and “Sunday Bell” are instantly catchy four-four pop gems. And during slower moments, like “We Were Wrong,” Audible even sounds a bit like a country-fied Elliott Smith. When Mary Garito comes in, however, that’s when things get really exciting. Imagine a Matt Pond-Brian Eno mashup and you’re pretty close. The keyboard leads on the title track are worth the price of the album alone. Nothing will prepare you for “Five Pirates,” though, with its sinister scratching guitars and fat, bassy synth tones. It’s still pop music, but it’s far more skewed than one would have expected up to this point.
And then there’s “Chase the Kids Away,” a waltzing, psychedelic trip that goes from light and airy to steady and rockin’. With each successive song, Audible seem to top themselves, proving once and for all how an album is meant to be sequenced. We all know how annoying it can be when the best song is the first one. Thankfully, no such crime has been committed here.
Audible, I suppose, is just a name, and teasing you about its significance was an obnoxious tease and a rather ineffective one at that. But hey, the band’s really good. That’s all that matters, right?
Matt Pond PA – The Nature of Maps
Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
Aqueduct – I Sold Gold
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.