Audacity's third album finds the band pushing in opposite directions at the same time. The Fullerton, California, garage-punk quartet plays with a homemade, youthful, and defiant style that makes the most out of its chaotic and unpredictable twists, all served up with an endless stream of hooks.
Butter Knife, released October 29 on Suicide Squeeze, is rowdy and noisy, but with softer moments sprinkled throughout.
"This album has more of a punk vibe like our first record, but there are also some songs that are softer," says drummer Thomas Alvarez. "For us, we wanted to go to more extremes. We wanted more aggressive shit and also to mellow it out more."
Though the band members are in their early 20s, Audacity's roots stretch back nearly a decade. Guitarists Kyle Gibson and Matt Schmalfeld began playing music together in sixth grade, first as Nontoxic and later as the Plaid and the Attachments. Alvarez and bassist Cameron Crowe joined in high school and soon the group was recording and touring regularly.
Alvarez says the band never thought it was weird to be driving around the country playing shows at 18. But all those shows and the band's close friendships led to rapid musical growth and an intuitive style performing and songwriting together. The band released debut LP Power Drowning on Burger Records in 2009. After that, they toured as the backing band for King Tuff's Kyle Thomas; their breakthrough LP, Mellow Cruisers, followed in 2012.
"We all grew up in the same area and have been friends forever, and that does give us a benefit," Alvarez says. "Everyone's into new ideas all the time and we know how everybody plays. We all know each other so well and there's no general. The way we play music reflects all of us being friends."
The songs for Butter Knife started coming even before Mellow Cruisers saw the light of day, but were already a leap from what Audacity had been writing and recording. For one thing, the songs didn't always come quite as easily, which Alvarez says reflects the band's goal of evolving stylistically.
"We always want to attempt to do new things and switch stuff around. If some people aren't into it they aren't into it, but it's not always good to do the same thing," he says.
So while punk bursts like the opening songs "Couldn't Hold a Candle" will always be part of the band's identity, gritty sing-along rockers like the Replacements-esque "Watered Down" are now along for the ride. So, too, are "Rooster," which starts as a single-guitar ballad before exploding into full-band chaos, and "Autumn," which introduces piano to a somber, intimate closing track.
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"We mess around a lot," Alvarez says. "Sometimes they just come together, but others like 'Hole in the Sky' didn't sound good forever, until finally something just clicked and it was rad. It takes a lot of ideas and opinions. We just throw around ideas at each other to find what works. People think of it just as a song, but we want to keep our style so it's not so straightforward all the time, different tempos, or a weird hook or a chord change."
Audacity is proud of Butter Knife and the progress they've made with near-constant touring since the last record came out, Alvarez says.
"We're still playing towns we've never played on this tour and also we're playing towns where we've played so many times," he says. "We love to play music and we're down to play wherever. It's just rad that people come out to see us."
Audacity is scheduled to perform Monday, November 11, at Trunk Space.