“I Will Follow You”
“Always On My Mind”
Even before I heard any music from Philadelphia’s husband-and-wife duo Reading Rainbow, I knew I was going to like them simply from their awesome name. So it was a relief when I finally got to hear their debut EP Mystical Participation, and discovered that their music was deserving of such a stellar band name (it would of been a shame for a childhood classic to be wasted on a less-than-great group). The album executes a minimalist, lo-fi sound employing the use of only one guitar, drum kit, and Rob Garcia and Sarah Everton’s voices. Yet, the record explodes with a powerful sound thanks to Reading Rainbows’ strong beats and commanding harmonies.
Mystical Participation can be touted as a concept album that deals with the juxtaposition of nature and city life. Concept albums can be tricky business, but Reading Rainbow pulls it off since their theme of the natural world versus the developed one never overwhelms the music. Yes, there are plenty of allusions to animals, like on the song “Deer Lord” and a thread of city versus mother earth defiantly runs through the songs. The album is saved from getting too preachy or repetitive since the duo mixes the tracks up with varying sounds and rythms. Track three “In the City”, explores the controlling aspects of urban life through the employment a harder edge to the music. Vocals provided by Everton (with help from Garcia) serve as the song’s centerpiece and the main instrumentals come from the straightforward, fuzzed bang of Everton‘s drums. The message of urban life’s constrictive hold is examined in the chorus of “In the city I behave” which eventually morphs into a chant of “In the forest misbehave”. The steady cry of the latter creates a tribal life feel to the song, making the listener feel as if they have traveled to a more feral human existence.
Reading Rainbow’s sweeter sound gets displayed on “I Will Follow You”, a tune that emerges with Garcia’s gentle, 60′s influenced guitar riff and softer beat from Everton. The vocal harmony is more traditional with larger vocal ranges occurring and less of the talk-singing heard on other tracks. Following the vein of a more musical style of singing, the lyrics are less distinct. Garcia and Everton’s voice meld and turn into a pleasant, almost instrumental sound by song’s end. “I Will Follow You” produces a strange beauty, blending both the rough edges of the band’s lo-fi, drum heavy sound with a melodious one thanks to Garcia’s guitar and the male/female harmonizing. Mystical Participation’s closing track of “I Will Wait” also presents a mellower sound, with Everton getting the opportunity to show of her vocal range. The sound has a slightly darker feel to it though that comes through in the repeating of “I will wait on the outside”. The tone isn’t exactly sad, but a sense of loss-tinged optimism is felt, the image of Adam and Eve exclusion from the Garden of Eden was brought to mind. “I Will Wait” serves as wonderful end to the Mystical Participation, which is key in a concept album. The song mixes all of Mystical Participations’ contrasting sounds, like vocal chanting, steady drums, and sweet melodies, while also managing to add its own unique twist. Not an easy accomplishment.
Reading Rainbow’s new album, Prism Eyes will be released by HoZac Records on November 23rd and after listening to the single “Always on My Mind” I was happy that their music had moved from the extreme lo-fi to a crisper sound. By removing the fuzz heard on Mystical Participation, the vocal talent of Garcia and Everton can shine through. Listening to “Always on My Mind” brought awareness to how the lo-fi sound of their earlier album served at times to cover up the talent possessed by Reading Rainbow. The acute lo-fi sound worked on Mystical Participation since the album was dealing with a more feral sound. After hearing Everton’s charming voice on their new single though, Reading Rainbow’s innovation is better heard coming from a cleaner, hi-fi sound. “Always on My Mind” also showcases a maturer drumming style, with more difficult and diverse beats.The lyrics are additionally further developed, while still maintaining the duo’s great ability to produce quick and catchy choruses. The “oohs” ending the song have a wonderful 60′s pop feel to it, which works perfectly with the cute, romantic feel of the tune. “Always on My Mind” bodes well for Prism Eyes and if even half of the album can assemble the well-accomplished sound of “Always on My Mind”, Prism Eyes can easily push Reading Rainbow to the top of the batch of great, emerging indie bands.
By: Stephanie Glass