Published: January, 2007, West Coast Performer Magazine

Absinthe Academy "Gaudi Trashy"
Engineered by Neil Couser
Recorded at 4th Street Studios
Mixed at Fox Force Five Studios

By Michael Fortes

Borrowing from the booze-soaked traditions of blues rockers before them, the members of Absinthe Academy deliver their own take on raspy, work-weary rock ’n’ roll. On their debut Gaudi Trashy, the intimacy of the band’s approach is strongly apparent in the defined bass tones that pop out, the primal rock drumming, the no-frills electric guitar and basic production. There’s no excessive reverb, obnoxious overdubs, or flavor-of-the-month sonic tricks that scream “Pro Tools.” What’s more, there’s no auto-tune here either, and no need for it.

Absinthe Academy gets the whole rock n’ roll thing. Though the band cites The Clash, Led Zeppelin and The Kinks as influences, Absinthe Academy has already carved out its own name and sounds most like itself. Chris Brooks’ ragged vocals are a perfect match for the steady, oomph-ah rhythm of the mostly two-chord “Midnight.” Against this track’s rockin’ riffs, the in-unison background vocals sound like an astonishingly in-tune bunch of drunks joining in from the bar.

What most obviously reveals the band’s influences are the guitar arpeggios in “Last Days,” which vaguely recall Zeppelin’s “Thank You.” Elsewhere, the acoustic “Capitol Hill” plays up the Southern vibe channeled by The Rolling Stones by way of The Kinks. The mix of tambourine- and handclap-accented acoustic numbers, pounding rockers, and trebly bass tunes like “Make Up Your Mind,” sounds decidedly retro, yet maintains a simplicity that is awfully refreshing. “Heaven Can Wait,” clichés aside, is a pleasant take on acoustic blues with some deft slide guitar.

There are many directions Absinthe Academy can go from here — it seems Brooks is only touching on the iceberg of his potential as a potent rock vocalist. He does the raspy thing exceedingly well and it will be exciting to hear what else he does with his voice as the band grows. All in all this is some great, solid rock music at just the right pace.