July 28, 2017 marked the release of the debut LP by Washington, D.C. area rock trio, The Beginner’s Mynd. The ten tunes composing “Don’t Lose Your Mind” serve as notice to one and all that these three talented musicians are a force to be reckoned with.
Composed of Dan McNabb, who wrote all the albums’ tracks and contributes vocals, guitar, keyboards (mellotron, Farfisa, piano and harpsichord) and percussion, Carrie Ferguson on keyboards (Farisa organ and piano) and drummer Larry Ferguson, The Beginner’s Mynd show themselves to be a most versatile band, capable of performances reminiscent of 60s style pop-psych blended with an 80s paisley underground sound. While the jangling guitars bring to mind The Byrds at their psychedelic best, other elements, especially the vocals remind this reviewer of The Beatles in their high water, “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” period.
The albums’ opening, title track features fuzz and Farfisa organ and trippy lyrics complemented by jangling guitars and vocals that would fit perfectly on an early R.E.M. LP, a wonderful piece of pop psych. Next up is “Unity” with its SRC style guitar feedback, gorgeous heavily echoed vocals and a tastefully restrained guitar solo by McNabb. “I’ve Seen Stars” features a gentle mellotron filled intro, giving the track a Moody Blues like feel, complemented nicely by Farfisa organ and jangling guitar accompaniments. “The Next One” features more Farfisa, this time joined by gorgeous drum rolls and insistent, gentle percussion, with fuzzed out guitar coming into the mix mid-tune. In addition, heavily echoed vocals bring The Beatles to mind, making for a a most pleasant combination of influences. Side one of the album closes with “I Want Truth” featuring jangling, echoed guitars reminiscent of The Byrds with nuanced Farfisa underneath and Lennonesque vocals on its plaintive chorus. Larry Ferguson’s drums are much more to the fore on this number, his drum rolls and insistent beat adding greatly to the song’s overall sound.
Side two’s opener “Out Of Tune” has a guitar and keyboard intro, with heavily echoed Lennonesque vocals again prominent in the mix. The gentle, restrained mellotrons work quite well in combination with more pleasant drum rolls on this mid-tempo number. “Nothing Wrong” opens with more jangling guitars, which remain in the fore, even as the beat builds, with a gorgeous subdued guitar solo by McNabb and gentle Farfisa adding texture. “Days Of Joy” features a gentle guitar and Farfisa intro, before gorgeous vocal harmonies and luscious percussion enter, the tune closing with most pleasant swirling Farfisa tones. “I Am Done” is the heaviest number on the album, featuring a much chunkier riff and driving, crashing drums pushing the beat. McNabb’s guitar solo soars over the top with beefy guitar and Farfisa leading to a feedback drenched finale. The albums’ closer “No Expectations” is my personal favorite, introduced by waves of guitar and heavily echoed vocals as well as Eastern influenced percussion, again reminiscent of The Beatles at their psychedelic best. Raga style guitars drone, melding with driving drums as waves of sound pass by accentuated by the songs’ repeated chorus, “I have no expectations, I want no consolations” making for an absolutely perfect ending for the album.
“Don’t Lose Your Mind” displays the versatility of The Beginner’s Mynd while never wavering far from the band’s psychedelic roots. McNabb’s songwriting abilities and the band’s multi-instrument versatility are constantly on display. The albums’ mastering, by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering plays on the band’s strengths and spotlights the group’s nuanced performances. The album does a wonderful job of blending commercial hooks with delicate melodies. One of the strongest debut albums I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the recent past, the future looks bright for The Beginner’s Mynd. “Don’t Lose Your Mind” leaves many paths open for the group to explore. It will be most interesting to see which of those paths the band chooses for its sophomore effort.
Kudos to Brian and the good folks at 13 O’Clock Records on selecting The Beginner’s Mynd for this new release. They have certainly picked a winner and the outlook is bright for the Austin, TX based label. “Don’t Lose Your Mind” will be a welcome addition to the collection of pop psych fans with material commercial enough to attract fans of pop and rock music outside the psych realm as well.
- Kevin Rathert
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