Rising stars

Matt Sullivan
MARC LESTER / The Anchorage Daily News

Despite having a name that renders most search engines useless, The Audio's profile has been on the rise locally. In recent months the Anchorage five-piece band has scored opening slots for Everclear, Eve 6 and Lit, which goes a long way toward overcoming an unimaginative name.

They'll make another undercard appearance at Koot's later this month, opening for 1990s one-hit-wonders Marcy Playground. At that show the band will be a little over 7 months old.

While The Audio may be a new addition to the local rock scene, the members themselves have put in time in several other Anchorage bands. Drummer Erik Kross and bassist Winston Montecillo pull double duty in the bands Delmag and T.I.A. respectively. Before that they were in Bullet for Daisy, which also included Audio members John Cripps and Billy Tango.

"We pull from the diverse roots of previous bands to fuse a darker indie rock sound," vocalist Jenni May said in an e-mail interview.

The band sounds like the sum of its parts -- the modern rock edge from Delmag is present and T.I.A.'s dancier qualities make appearances. May's former Portland, Ore., band The Sudden Death Squad probably sounds the most similar to what the musicians are doing these days.

The Audio took form this past February and by April it had already sneaked its way into the rotations of local radio stations KWHL 106.5 and 94.7 The End with the single "I Like You Best."

The song revels in big, near-grunge choruses while tipping a hat to '80s new wave. It resonated enough with The End that the station picked The Audio as its Band of the Month for July. Striking while the iron is still hot, the band has issued its debut, an EP called "Six Impossible Things."

Clocking in at just over 22 minutes, the disc serves as more of a simple demonstration than any particular mission statement -- it's short and sweet. Erik Braund, a former Alaskan and graduate of NYU's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, recorded, mixed and mastered the disc's six tracks. They sit comfortably on the modern rock end of radio, but they avoid those often schlock-filled trappings by also leaning on college rock influences culled from the left side of the dial. Think of them as a more down-to-earth version of Paramore.

The best songs on "Six Impossible Things" stick with the things that work on "I Like You Best" -- the music is jerky and a little tense, while the tunes put greater emphasis on hooks than seriousness. Following those guidelines, lead track "X Marks the Spot" is the clear winner. It opens with deep synthesizers and a web of guitars that could be mistaken for synthesizers, which also makes it the most interesting musically.

Musicianship aside, what's really on display on the EP is Jenni May's vocals, which are probably the disc's major selling point or biggest deterrent for most listeners. On "X Marks the Spot," she unleashes a powerful set of vocal cords that can reach some seriously high volumes without showing signs of strain. But at the same time, on songs like "Arson" - which seems propped specifically to let May belt it out -- the verses feel over-sung.

Aside from that, the EP is an accomplished collection, and if The Audio were publicly traded, they would be a stock worth purchasing. One of the band's goals for the future is to land some sort of funding that would allow them to tour the Lower 48, but they're also looking to break out of the beaten path in Alaska.

"We want to create music that is current and challenging, while staying true to our Alaskan music scene roots," May said. "Alaska needs more rock stars."

By Matt Sullivan