63 Crayons – Spread the Love EP

63 Crayons
Spread the Love EP

Very much mining the vein of 60s psychedelic, stereophonic pop on this six-song EP, Roanoke, Virginia’s 63 Crayons sound like if the Olivia Tremor Control were to cover the Mamas and the Papas. Its fitting that 63 Crayons is on a label called Happy Happy Birthday To Me because the perfect word to describe the music and the lyrical content of the songs would be “happy.” So happy, in fact, that I listened to this CD several times just to see if there was any sense of irony to the lyrics, but I could find none. Definitely happy, positive, irony-free music.

Recorded on a four-track, its amazing the sheer amount of harmonies, instruments and random noises that they’ve been able to jam on there without compromising the fidelity. In fact, I had no idea that this was a four-track recording until I read the liner notes. But it makes sense that 63 Crayons would record on such a basic machine because the 60s bands that influence their sound (Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, Beatles) used the same technology back when four-track recording was state of the art.

The lead-off track, “Take a Vacation,” is wrapped in harmonies and a theremin and is a (surprise) happy song about a vacation and having time to think about things. Lead vocal duties are split equally between Charlie Johnston and Suzanne Allison with both providing back-up vocals full of Beach Boy-esque “ah-ah-ahs” and “ba-ba-bas”. The standout track is “Blue and Red,” which incorporates part of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and breaks into an almost fully orchestrated pop song complete with glockenspiel.

This EP is limited to 500 copies, and each hand decorated cover is one of a kind. A full-length record is planned for 2003, and if 63 Crayons continues to build upon what they’ve achieved sonically so far, it will be very interesting to hear what they come up with. While their sound may be considered retro, 63 Crayons aren’t directly aping anyone’s style, they’ve harvested the best parts of the time period and created their own sound.