Formed in 1998 from Portland, OR-based outfits like Pond and Sprinkler, the lads in Audio Learning Center are easily the square pegs of Vagrant Records. It's refreshing that they don't fit in with their emo-addled labelmates, as the Chris Brady-fronted trio blends elements of grunge stalwarts like Nirvana and Screaming Trees with 1980s college rock favorites like Big Dipper and Volcano Suns on Cope Park. Booze-doused road tales like "The Neverwills" seem to roar with reckless abandon, but drummer Paul Johnson and guitarist Steven Birch work off of Brady with tremendous precision on the title cut -- which flirts with modern prog. But ALC is clearly at its best setting off urgent, raw rock & roll firecrackers like "Passenger" and "In the Red." Desperate, unstable, and lovelorn, Brady's songs are always real, and -- with the exception of the aimless "California" -- really very good.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John D. Luerssen