Audio Learning Center - Friendships Often Fade Away (Cover Artwork)

Audio Learning Center

Audio Learning Center: Friendships Often Fade AwayFriendships Often Fade Away (2002)
Vagrant Records

Reviewer Rating: 4

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

With the majority of Vagrant's big guns putting out disappointing albums this year [thus far, at least - I'm still waiting to hear the new Get Up Kids record], leave it to an unknown band from the Pacific Northwest to put the label back on track. Audio Learning Center consists of ex-members of Po.
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With the majority of Vagrant's big guns putting out disappointing albums this year [thus far, at least - I'm still waiting to hear the new Get Up Kids record], leave it to an unknown band from the Pacific Northwest to put the label back on track.

Audio Learning Center consists of ex-members of Pond and Sprinkler [and Everclear, sort of]. While the names aren't too telling, both bands had cultlike followings in the northwest and both had signed to Sub Pop Records. These guys were there for the rise and fall of the Seattle "scene," and have probably lived through more cliched rock experiences than most of Vagrant's roster has ever dreamed of. This definitely shows up in singer Christopher Brady's lyrics. Just like the gorgeous CD artwork depicts a fragmented yet highly artistic canvas, so does Brady's words. Tracks like the grungy, Weezer-esque "Favorite" playfully mock people who become obsessed with bands that are no bigger than the people themselves. "Winter" is quite the contrast from the irony of "Favorite" - The song clocks in at over 7 minutes, telling the stories of a man and woman who both lost their jobs and are living utterly wasteful lives. The song's crescendo reaches a fever pitch at the 5 minute mark as Christopher wails "Trying to pretend they took the right road, the path to doors shut along / And failures that have taken too long" among a sea of swirling guitar sounds. Wow is about the only word I can use to sum this song up.

The album's high points are many, and it's low points are few and very far between. I could see Christopher's voice getting on people's nerves sometimes, as it is rather nasal. The band could benefit from vocal harmonies at times, too - tracks like "The Shell" sound great as they are, but another voice wouldn't hurt anything.

As for the band's overall sound, it's not emo, it's not really punk, it's just more of an amalgamation of the old grunge movement coupled with your obvious indie rock influences [Pavement, Sebadoh, etc.]. The band does it well, especially in "Broken" and "Dedication." They're not exactly the overall standouts on the record, but both represent the overall sound that I believe ALC is shooting for. The band isn't driven solely by guitar, bass or drums - all three mesh together to form a really, really solid rock band. The majority of the songs on the record clock in at over 4 minutes, which allows the band to really flesh out the ideas present within the song structure and build on them repeatedly. This is one of the few albums that I own that I don't mind being over an hour long.

I mentioned the artwork earlier, but I really think it needs special attention. The CD comes in a digipak case within a cutout cardboard sleeve that serves as the "frame" for the picture on the cover. Turn the album over, and the track listing is written on the back of the "canvas." It's really, really clever and it adds to the overall feeling of the release.

This isn't going to sell 100,000 copies nor will you be seeing Audio Learning Center on M2 any time soon. Vagrant took a big risk putting a debut record of a virtually unknown band out. I applaud them for doing so - Next to the Anniversary's "Your Majesty," this is the best thing Vagrant has put out in 2002. I'll be playing this album for years to come.



People who liked this also liked:
Texas Is The Reason - Do You Know Who You Are?Descendents - Milo Goes To CollegeThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldDuvall - Standing At The DoorThrice - The Illusion of SafetySuperdrag - Head Trip in Every KeyThe Weakerthans - Left and LeavingCamber - Wake Up And Be HappyGlassjaw - Worship and TributeCursive/Eastern Youth - 8 Teeth To Eat You

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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.
soulbleed (January 7, 2003)

all i can say is .. amazing. this is hands down one of the best melodic/indie albums i've heard in quite awhile. check out 'the shell'

Anonymous (April 25, 2002)

wait, take that back. i can't read.

-chimerical burst

Anonymous (April 25, 2002)

good review...but lets not talk smack about the anniversary or they're new cd given that the two rock unbelievably hard.

-chimerical burst

FatTony (April 25, 2002)

As good as that review was, I can't give this band a good score. I haven't heard this album, but they aren't very good live (they opened for Saves the Day on 4/21). They're just not exciting in any way.

whendovescry (April 24, 2002)

Hear that? It's the sound of Scott's ego bloating larger than his man-breasts. Professional? The guys at lostatsea.net review with more alacrity and affluence.

Anonymous (April 24, 2002)

lol... as always, good review is the one that gives high point to the album. i wish someone can make such an awesome review again like scott's f2f review.

Anonymous (April 24, 2002)

good review... i've heard a few songs from these guys, and i wasn't paticularly interested, but this review mangaged to arrouse my attention... i might pick myself up a copy of this cd... you should do some professional writing, make some money

Anonymous (April 24, 2002)

2 good reviews in one day!
dude you need to go professional with this or something
you write good reviews

Anonymous (April 24, 2002)

A decent review on punknews? I'm shocked AND excited

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