Saturday, June 17, Burt’s Tiki Lounge (21-and-over); Free: Reader’s MySpace page features a drawing of a penis that has ejaculated semen in a pattern that spells out the band’s name. Now that we’ve all gotten past that, let’s discuss the new wave/jam band musical anomaly that is San Antonio’s Reader.
Let’s start with the most conventional aspect of the band. The vocals are heavy on vibrato but don’t go overboard with wavering pitches, so there’s still a singsongy quality to their deceptive innocence. From there, it gets a little trickier. There’s the synthesized keyboards that tend to dominate whenever they’re in the mix and are primarily responsible for the new wave component of the band’s sonic identity. The guitar often acts as the band’s most prevalent rhythm provider because the drums tend to go off on their own path.
Perhaps the most striking component of the band is not the way in which they suddenly change gears and move from chaotic to quiet or hyperactive to languid. Instead, it’s when the band combines these elements--with the drums quietly milling about with the guitar shrieking away and the keyboard in full swing or the vocals screeching while the other instruments peacefully go about their business--that the band seems most at odds with the musical universe.
Like a junky shooting up in the middle of a crowded street, Reader seems to take pleasure in obliterating the norms which, we realize after hearing the band, were made to be broken.