The Reynolds Number

The guys in Austin-based band the Reynolds Number trace their shared musical existence to an informal writing and recording session at Austin Signal that somehow morphed into a gig at a respected local club — an “accidental” booking, according to lead singer/keyboardist Om Shankar. But there’s nothing accidental about this quintet’s skill at creating melodic, piano-driven indie rock; exhibit A would be The Reynolds Number, their self-titled debut release for Big Bend Records.

The band’s energetic blend of well-crafted melody lines, groove-based rhythms, polished harmonies and ambient textures flows from the combined talents of Shankar, guitarists/backing vocalists Josh Atkins and Colin Campbell, bassist/backing vocalist Gabriel Elpers and drummer Mack Arnos, who claim musical kinship with acts such as the Fray, Coldplay, Keane, the National and U2.

According to Shankar, family is the core concept behind these nine tracks. “This album tells a story of my relationship with my family, and how we have changed as I have grown older,” he explains. The song “Grow,” in fact, reflects a conversation between Shankar and his father, “and my struggles to be as great of a man as he is.” “Awake” and “Follow You,” two more of its many standout tracks, also express personal experiences. The former is about loss, the latter about his parents’ relationship to religion and his search for his own. Guest cellist Steve Bernal can be heard on “Awake” and another song, “Prophet.” Producer Jon Niess added sonic textures throughout the recording. Though Shankar guided the lyrical content, the album is definitely a combined effort.

Shankar, Atkins and Elpers have known one another since their high school days in Cypress, Texas. Elpers, born in Massachusetts, lived in Australia for six years as a kid. His diet of Radiohead, the Flaming Lips and Yes, segued to Wilco, Local Natives, electronic and experimental music. Atkins, alum of Cypress metal outfit Atriad, leans on classic rock and blues. Campbell, a veteran of Austin alt-rock band the Canvas Waiting, grew up in Galveston listening to rap and hip-hop before finding indie rock in college. Ohio native Arnos, who played in acoustic-oriented Austin band Paper Mache, performed in his high school jazz band, marching band, pep band and concert band. Shankar had numerous previous projects, but says, “The Reynolds Number is the first true band that I have ever been in.”

Like Elpers and Shankar, Campbell, a more recent addition, is a University of Texas at Austin graduate; his degree is in mechanical engineering. Elpers, who confesses, “a couple of us are kind of nerdy,” earned his degree in physics and math. Shankar paired aerospace engineering with materials science and engineering. The band’s name refers to a concept in the study of fluid dynamics, which is engineering speak for something the rest of us can leave to them. But come to think of it, that term might also apply to the band’s music — and their collective bond. They love hanging out together over drinks and Mexican food, and, Elpers says, “making each other laugh as much as possible.”

Formed in 2011, they already have an album, For November, and an EP, Extended Play, under their belts. But there’s more to come — whether accidental or engineered with precision. With the Reynolds Number, it doesn’t matter how they get there, as long as they keep it flowing. Good thing they know a little something about fluid dynamics.

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