Audacity Gets Wiser
Orange County already had the Adolescents, but when they got Audacity, they got the prepubescents—larval punks who started in second grade at Laguna Road Elementary School, where future guitarists and singers Kyle Gibson and Matt Schmalfeld met. Through the twin influences of older sisters and primitive file-sharing, they started connecting the Beatles to the Buzzcocks and Bikini Kill. And so, as the saying goes, it begun.
Before they had completed high school, they'd added bassist Cameron Crowe and drummer Thomas Alvarez and realized their destiny with a Milo Goes to College-Adolescents, teen-genius-punk LP on Burger called Power Drowning. It proved not only the kids, but also the actual world was all right. And once that was rolling, they became the much-loved little brothers of the Burger Records boys . . . and once that got them all over the USA, they'd become such a preternaturally ripping unit that other already-ripping dudes—F.Y.P and Toys That Kill's Todd Congelliere, King Tuff's King Tuff—enlisted them as a self-contained backing band. Sometime during all that, they recorded a soon-to-be-released second album with so much energy it's shaking like a time bomb on the last 10 seconds. And of course at some point in there, they became legal to be in the bars they always played.
Maybe it's harder to remember in a post-Portlandia world, where people wanna retire instead of rewire, but some of the greatest punk records of all time—Adolescents, Descendents, Red Cross—were made by just these kind of actual ineligible-to-vote-or-smoke kids. These kids held on to the kind of preternatural talent and teenage vision usually dissolved by responsible society soon after graduation, and they proved that four random people from some random high school can deliver what one of punk's most righteous critics so lovingly called "zee real sheet." Honors English classes and unsupervised house parties are the true parents of many destroying bands from the California corridor cities, and Audacity even wrote one of their most distinctive songs—the loopy "Mr. Alvarez" on their 2009 debut, Power Drowning, about their Honors English teacher, who may learn that for the first time by reading this very sentence. And now that it'd normally be about time for sophomore year of college, it's time for a sophomore album.
"It has been a long time," says Gibson. "We've gone on a lot of tours, backed a couple of old dudes—we had a whole set of songs that we pretty much ditched. I think the time in between [albums], we were growing up as people and as a band, and listening to the album, you can tell we're older and wiser. Hopefully!"
And you know what? You can tell—this is the record on which Audacity try a lot of everything, on which all the songs kids flip out and fight for ("Subway Girl," "Punk Confusion," "Funspot") have been hiding. If there's a band who made perfect sound easy—or made trashed and burned sound perfect—Audacity learned a lesson from them. And so you'll hear extraterrestrial shredders such as J Mascis in there as much as last-call bottlesmashers such as Bob Stinson, or even radio-savers such as Thin Lizzy, smashed to fit into songs with choruses that turn into choruses that turn into infinitely de-spiraling glammed-out guitar solos that turn into reverbed adorableness, and then bounce into a three-point landing, and that's a fakeout! There's even more still to come—in the song, on the record, for the band.
As the other saying goes, they have only just begun.
This article appeared in print as "Totally Punked-Out: Audacity started out as OC's prepubescent punks, but now they're all grown up."
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