By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
2004 continues to be an exhilarating year for local music. The Number 3 Pencils's first EP, Delicate Subjects, is the newest entry to this growing list. This six-song, twenty-minute assault of mellifluent pop gems opens with a wall of sound crash and closes with a cappella harmonics. Driven by Beatles-minded rock and roll balladry, this disc is solid rhythm led by guitars and voices.
Albert Morales and Danny Garcia (drums and bass, respectively) set a thick groove foundation for the guitar work of Ely Bascoy and Alex Vasquez, the latter also filling in the cracks with keyboards. The result is somewhere between Slider-era T. Rex and Weezer's less esoteric moments. They hearken towards a pure America, dreaming of day-glo, boxed toys, academics, and boy-meets-girl love.
The Number 3 Pencils's true strength, however, lies in their well-developed and layered vocal arrangements. Think oozing "ahhs" delivered at fluctuating octaves, bass, and baritones with enough range to eschew falsetto and enough gruff to keep it rock and roll. Standouts include the fast-paced breakdowns of "Three Cheers for Love" and the muted flower child Casio tones of "Technicolor Delight."
The production is clean, and synth effects pepper the recording in a tasteful, symbiotic manner. Great care has been taken with the levels, so the instrumentation complements itself without sacrificing the integrity of the vocals. The only drawback, as with all EP's, is that you are left wanting more from these accomplished musicians.