As a record reviewer, sometimes I find it hard to review different works by the same artists. There comes a point when I just say “this sounds like that,” which doesn’t help anyone. So as much as I’m trying to avoid that angle here, I’m going to start out by mentioning that Rivers Edge features members (and the same vocalists) from Future Virgins and Basement Benders, as well as members of ADD/C and Pine Hill Haints. It also shares an affinity for DIY production that’s a bit rough around the edges yet culminates in super-hooky melodies that hit me in the right spot.
Other than Pine Hill Haints, who I’ll admit I don’t know well enough for comparison-sake, I definitely hear shades of all the other bands on New Hope for the Dead, an 8-song tape that dropped last year. There are really three core concepts across this record: pained rage, cathartic singalongs, and those rough-around-the-edges melodies. Rivers Edge play catchy verse-chorus-verse with a penchant for getting stuck in your head. It’s angry, but it still feels personal enough that it has deeper meaning.
Where Future Virgins aim for sky-high pleasing melodies, Rivers Edge instead is rougher and angrier. They shout as much as they sing. ADD/C used less traditional structures to build extra emotional impact, and that sum-of-the-parts songwriting is also on display here. The choruses are definitely the earworms, but the journey to get there is just as important as the climax.
This is good stuff that any fan of basement punk singalongs should be able to get down to. I just reviewed their split with The Bananas, and that band is a good reference point, though there’s a noisier core and a lot of diverse, subtle influence that lies below the surface from the emotional pull of The Replacements to quirky hints of The Pixies.
7.5 / 10
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