Audio Karate - Lady Melody (Cover Artwork)

Audio Karate

Audio Karate: Lady MelodyLady Melody (2004)
Kung Fu Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: maverickScott
(others by this writer | submit your own)

How do you go from being barely a blip on the indie rock radar to encompassing the whole screen? Well, if you're Audio Karate, you write Lady Melody, a sophomore record that is anything but sophomoric. In three short years, this California quartet has written a follow-up to Space Camp that not onl.
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How do you go from being barely a blip on the indie rock radar to encompassing the whole screen? Well, if you're Audio Karate, you write Lady Melody, a sophomore record that is anything but sophomoric. In three short years, this California quartet has written a follow-up to Space Camp that not only surpasses it in sheer talent and emotion, but makes you wonder just what's in the water at the Blasting Room, where the band recorded this disc. While the basis of the group's sound remains the same, Lady Melody sounds like a band reborn.

From the second the record kicks off with "Jesus is Alive and Well (and Living in Mexico)," Audio Karate delivers the rock for 40 straight minutes with a passion undiscovered before now. Singer Arturo Barrios has been studying up on equal parts Jawbreaker and Cursive, as his voice has taken a decidedly gravelly turn. His lyrics, while not as poetic as either band's frontman, are still interesting enough to warrant actually reading the lyric sheet [something I can't say about many bands nowadays]. A running theme throughout the disc seems to be that of love lost, but instead of elaborate metaphors, Barrios cuts right to the point, as seen in "Catch And Release":

"So baby come back to me
and we'll sleep
I'll admit the things you want me to
I won't fuck the girls I wanted too..."
The energy runs high in a good majority of the songs due to blazing guitar solos contributed by Jason Camacho. In "Gypsyqueen," unarguably the disc's best track, Camacho's solo slides in effortlessly right as Barrios finishes wailing "but what about the way you keep pretending that you sleep / so sweet / yeah!", taking the song to another level. Camacho's guitar chops are also used in more creative instances, as seen in the title track with multiple guitar effects closing out the song, before throwing the band back into overdrive in "Aim To Please."

Bill Stevenson once again has produced a gem of a record - his fourth of the year, after the Descendents, Silent Drive, and A Wilhelm Scream - pretty much assuring him "producer of the year" nods from any indie music-oriented website who has such a year-end category. This record is alive and crackling with unbridaled energy. The only production error made is found in "Get What You Deserve Inc.", which contains a wholly out-of-place fade-out at the end of the track, which then inexplicably fades back in before actually ending the song. It's awkward and stunts the flow of the record just enough to warrant a criticism of it.

Other than that, this record is essentially flawless. The songs are well-crafted and a unique take on what melodic punk has been defined as in the past decade, and the passion in the vocals is undeniably infectious. You'll be singing along until your throat hurts as much as Barrios' probably does. And you'll be singing along all year long, too, to easily one of the best records of 2004.

Jesus is Alive and Well (and Living in Mexico)
Hey Maria
Ms. Foreign Friendly [clip]


People who liked this also liked:
Hot Water Music - A Flight and a CrashAgainst Me! - New WaveNOFX - The DeclineClassics of Love - Classics of LoveAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityDan Andriano - Hurricane SeasonThe Clash - London CallingThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Descendents - Milo Goes To CollegeAt The Drive-In - Relationship Of Command

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
thatsyouth (May 24, 2008)

i searched for this review because i need to say it somewehre.


Ember (May 11, 2006)

I'm giving this CD 3 stars. I think the music is some of the best I've ever heard, but I think the lyrics seem non-sensical most times and the singer seems to be trying too hard. Maybe he needs a better mic, I don't know, but his voice seems to drown in the music surrounding it, and he's like someone gasping for air. I suspect maybe that's why the music drowns him out, to partly cover it up, which maybe the producers intended in order to sell it. The singer justifies the strange lyrics in the video on the CD saying "the meaning doesn't matter" or something like that, but if he thinks they don't matter, then why put in any at all? If he considers voice just another instrument, then he's the weakest instrumentalist, and he needs some lessons. They sound great without him, and I dig my nails into my steering wheel when I hear his voice crack and falter while I'm driving with this CD on. But I think he has potential, and I think when he finally learns his limits, or when he learns how to extend them to accommodate his vocal goals, then I'll give them a 4th star on their next disc. And if their lyrics start making more sense (can anyone explain how "Jesus is Alive and Well..." relates to its lyrics at all?), 5 they will earn. Until then, I still love the music, so I just pump up the bass and muffle the treble a little to soften his voice so I can tune it out and let it mingle with the music.

Anonymous (January 19, 2006)

Would someone please pass the fucking mayo?

lostinthecrowd13 (June 24, 2004)

I finally got my hands on this. A very solid release but not a classic. Maybe it will grow on me though. I guess it was worth my 15 dollars worth of credit at FYE.

sleepwalk (June 24, 2004)

Just got it, great cd. Space Camp was unoriginal, uninspired, and boring. This is a somewhat different sound for them. But the songwriting is creative. Great guitar parts too (occasionally). My complaint is that the kill-the-vocal-chords harsh-as-hell vocals thing is overdone. Gets a little repetitive and boring, but half the time the music makes up for it. I recommend this cd.

drummadict (June 8, 2004)

i haven't bought the cd yet, i plan on it, this band kicks ass, they have my respect as well as yours, regardless of the quality of the new cd, they still have a kick ass old one

Anonymous (June 6, 2004)

kung fu = worst label ever!

Anonymous (June 6, 2004)

God Kirby you're such a fucking faggot

lostinthecrowd13 (June 6, 2004)

I went to my local music store to try and find this cd but they didn't have it. I even went to Best Buy to try and get my hands on it. The MP3s I heard were solid and anyone who has a song title "Jesus is Alive and Well (and living in Mexico)" has my respect.

Anonymous (June 5, 2004)





ThreeChordsAndTheTruth (June 4, 2004)

I saw these guys a few years ago supporting The Vandals and really wasn't impressed. It was like, guitar solos all the way through the song, and besides that, generic melodic punk.

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

Someone flopped a steamer in the gene pool.

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

I'm loving these mp3's. I definitely didn't expect to like this at all. I'm buying this for sure. I really like this guy's voice

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

Since when did punknews.org delete comments?? That sucks.

I'm Arab, and now I shall destroy.

Sara(no h)

BeaArthur (June 4, 2004)

Kung Fu must really miss back in the 90's when their roster didnt suck........

They really need to convince Assorted Jelly Beans to come out of retirement.

sickboi (June 4, 2004)

I just can't get into this.

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

I think one of the most incredible things about this album is the complete and amazing jump in quality of songwriting and performance that this band has accomplished. I love this album, I really really do. I am one jaded motherfucker too. I have alway enjoyed the guys in Audio Karate when our paths crossed, but never felt that their band was one that really stood out. In the past, they wrote catchy music, but uninspired, sound a lot like Ataris kind of stuff. Wasn't bad, but wasn't great.

Not so with this.

This is a step in the right direction. This shows growth. An expansion of influences. A desire to be better then what they are as a band. I think that if they keep progressing like this, this will be a band to take note of. I, in a time of being burnt out by all the over hyped bullshit out there....love this record. Its just a collection of great songs, and I will be honest. I do NOT recommend their old stuff to anyone, unless you are a super fan, but I REALLY recommend giving this album a try.

In a time where so much is boring, a band taking big creative steps in the right direction is really exciting. I give the album 9 out of 10 for production, song quality, and for the creative jump of Audio Karate. The songs are just damn good. The mp3s are not the best songs in my opinion, its an album I enjoy more each time I listen to it.

Ok enough praise. I am not in the band, I am a friend to them, but not someone who was EVER a fan until now. They won me over with this. Try it.

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

oops i'm retarded

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

no shit......nitro too, they are fucking hurtin these days

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

no shit......nitro too, they are fucking hurtin these days

Anonymous (June 3, 2004)

Kung Fu must really miss back in the 90's when their roster didnt suck........

Anonymous (June 3, 2004)

guy below me....

nice try dude, but the next time you want to rile everyone up with a stupid post put more thought and originality into it. the "hate created by ignorance and fear" angle is just sooooo used up.

Anonymous (June 3, 2004)

Hells no,foolio.

Sara(no h)

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

the jesus song sounds like a Fire When Ready song

TheMarc (June 2, 2004)

To the guy who asked me if I was talking about Loveless:

It had crossed my mind. Also considered were Jimmy Eat World and The Mars Volta.

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

Nice review Scott

Best album this year so far, people need to open their mind and give this album a try. The signer got a pretty cool voice.. 4/5 star for me

- matt

theevilmonkey (June 2, 2004)

I listened to the MP3s and immediately went ahead and downloaded the CD from ITunes. I've never heard any of Audio Karate's stuff previous to today, but wonderful cd.

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

maybe they listen to the same shit that did when they were 16 cus nothing since then has impressed them. seriously, how does this sound any different than any shit on the radio?

just because the guy from the vandals put this out, doesn't mean it's a desperate ploy at airplay.

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

geez i wish i was an old punk, cuz i'd know everything. i'd be all old and opinionated and then other peoples thoughts or tastes wouldn't mean shit to me because i know that if it was cool music, somebody would've made it by now, had it recorded it in a trash can or something, and you could only find it on vinyl(old schoolers love this impratical crap) and you'd have to be really lucky at that, since the shitty label that put it out went tits up before i was born. then i would dispense my endless knowledge on this, of all websites. yup, that'd be the life, i tells ya. PUNKNEWS..... the old-schoolers website of choice !! hahaha!!! you can all take your "i saw punk rock when it was real" and put it in your poopers. your years in the game don't mean shit, you've just wasted them listening to the same crap you did when you were 16 anyway. closed minded motherfuckers.

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

TheMarc, by whale sounding feedbacka are you talking about Loveless?

Good album, good review.

boba_fett (June 2, 2004)

those mp3's are pretty good. ive got some cash that needs spending and these guys might be the beneficiaries of my generocity.

JoshD (June 2, 2004)

I can't believe they rip off the kids with this shit and get away with it. Pussy music it is.

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

This sound has been done before by countless other bands, nothing new or original at all, rather boring.... 4. 5 stars scott??? -oldpunker-

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

Not bad nor great...seems a bit repetitious...and could use some backing vocals.

inagreendase (June 2, 2004)

This is a really good album (maybe just not 4.5 stars good). The first time I listened I couldn't believe what I was hearing...I think they took a similar direction as the Living End did, where there's much more of a focus on vocals over instrumentation, despite the little solos here and there you mentioned. Only in this case, AK ended up putting out a better followup.

aubin (June 2, 2004)

For some reason the vocals remind me of Jason Shevchuk, but I like what I've heard so far.

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

That first mp3 is pretty righteous...makes me want to check this band out. Reminds me of something that otherwise would've wound up on No Idea or Thick...

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

Yeah this is good, Nintendo 89 gave me the heads up that these guys are special good for them. Go Kung Fu


Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

awsome album

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

Vocals are very HWMish... i like.

Anonymous (June 2, 2004)

Larry Arms?



Crack kills.

- Kirby

rocks03 (June 1, 2004)

This Album is dam good. MUST BUY!! Audio karate stepped it up this time around from space camp and is orginal. Great Album

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

jason is just trying to rip off brendan

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

This reminds me of None More Black, not Lawrence Arms(And if one more of you cunts tries to say Jason is trying to rip off brendan i'll rip your balls off)

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

my brother loves this album, and for once i agree with him, pretty fuckin good

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

i love this album except track 4.


Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

This doesn't sound like Larry Arms, but it does adopt a "Harsh" vocal sound that Larry Arms often adopts (as pointed out in the review) - I could have called it the "Jawbreaker" sound, the "crimpshrine" sound, the "old Hot Water Music" sound, the "Leatherface" sound and so on.

Bottom line is that Audio Karate is boring however they sing.

maverick (June 1, 2004)

How does this record sound like the Lawrence Arms at all?


Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

I'm not buying this. Something tells me this will be like the Weakerthan's latest record....all hype and no substance.

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

I can see where someone might think this is a better album than 'Space Camp,' but the truth is that they traded in generic emo-punk for generic Larry Arms-style punk. That doesn't make it good, it just means that it sucks in a different way.

Not to editorialize, but it seems like there's been a lot of undeserved praise on this site for really mediocre bands recently.

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

On one hand, I agree with some of your reviews, but with others I just don't see where you got the score you did. This is one of them.

Weak lyrics/vocals IMO.

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

This stuff is good, the man kids you not.

- Kirby

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

I didn't think I was going to like this but I do.

Good Review

Jesse (June 1, 2004)

Boo, Scott, boo.

TheMarc (June 1, 2004)

Yeah, I thought that pause was a little awkward too, but you can't have a great record without weird production noises, long sessions of whale-sounding feedback, or wacked out looping techno beats.

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

scott is the new tate.

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

I like the cover art... quite a bit.

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

Wish i had money to buy this

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

I love Audio Karate - their music reminds me of that suburban southern california atmosphere that everyone dreams of

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