I was late to embrace Audio Karate, one of the fieriest bands to come out of the late 90s/early-aughts pop-punk scene. By the time I was getting into their kind of raw, full-throated, vocals and live, loud, imperfect production, the band was almost broken up. I had no idea that was the case when I stumbled across “Nintendo 89” on a Warped Tour compilation, and if I had, I would’ve begged them not to. Listen to this beast:
The first thirty seconds are one of the most epic builds in pop-punk. The guitar tones are perfect, the drums won’t stop, and when it all drops out to introduce those main power chords – ugh. There’s more energy in those thirty three seconds than a six-pack of Red Bull. I can only imagine the reaction it got live.
Anyway, these dudes went their separate ways around ’05 and left the world with two albums, Space Camp, and Lady Melody. Buy ’em, love ’em, play ’em loud, and then check this out:
They came back! They have a piano player, mainlined The Strokes and changed their name, but the songwriting and singer Arturo Barrio’s distinct pipes are as solid as ever. I miss the throat – rupturing rawness of their earlier work, but hey, that’s growth. Space Camp didn’t have a single instance of saloon style piano playing either, but “Elvis” features it heavily and it works. It’s a give and take.
Whip-crack opener “Rob Your House” comes closest to capturing the groups free-wheeling energy of old, with the titular phrase serving as an anarchic refrain that’s gonna feel good to shout out with a group of drunken buddies at a show or before a night of debauchery. At the same time, it also sounds the most “Strokes”y, complete with synths and – unless I’m crazy – a hint of a vocal effect.
The middle pair of tracks, “High Low” and “Wind You Up” form the backbone of the new sound: slower tempos, catchy choruses, and the addition of some acoustic strumming and clean piano sounds. EP closer “Elvis” is the track that sounds the least likely to work on paper, but is executed with aplomb. The aforementioned saloon piano kicks in early in the track and is mixed low, but shines in the chorus.
Over the course of the four tracks, the moment I keep going back to, the one that draws the line in the sand is two and a half minutes into “Wind You Up.” Like the opening of “Nintendo 89” it’s another beat where everything drops away, but instead leaving space for the hell-raising guitar from that track, it’s just Art’s vulnerable croon and a piano. Does it make me want to pogo my way into a pit Not really, but it makes me damn excited for what Indian School does next.
UPDATE: Thanks to Eric and Lucy for pointing out I overlooked a fifth track that can be found here: http://soundcloud.com/indianschool/tracks Enjoy!
Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |