Release Date: Apr 17, 2012
Record label: Red Ink
Dry the River take their music so seriously, even Sting would giggle. The debut from this London five-piece, who've gotten loads of Mumford & Sons comparisons, shouts "We're intense!" at every moment – especially in the trembling falsetto of former choirboy Peter Liddle. He crams his tales of spiritual torment with biblical and agrarian imagery (oxen, a woodcutter) as the music, played in shifting rhythms, rises like – well, it can't rise because it's always at a full-on peak, especially when joined by the group's violinist, who is, alas, classically trained.
Imagine trying to dry a river. With a sponge, say. It’d be frantic, furious and frustrating work, culminating in a moment of triumph when, after years of life-threatening effort against insurmountable odds, you squeegee the final drops of the Rhine into a bucket and tip it down the sink. Now imagine what a band called Dry The River should sound like.
Dry The RiverShallow Bed[Sony Music; 2012]By Ray Finlayson; April 16, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGKudos to Dry The River. After getting signed to Sony Music last year, the London five-piece have finally been able to get a force behind them to help spread word of their name and their music. A few months ago, that lumbering, pissed-off looking shark on their debut album cover started popping up here and there, and it suddenly became clear that Dry The River were on course to being one of the next big things.
"It's the chambers and the valves that pump the sentiment around," sings Peter Liddle on a song as robust as his falsetto is crumpled and tremulous. His quintet's ardent pastoral folk is indeed heart-pumping stuff and their chambers and valves are in fine fettle on this debut – churning out rich instrumentation, nimble lyrics and emotional gales of choruses. But the sentiment may stick in your craw, not your heart, in that talk of Bible belts, railroads and medicine men rings just a bit hollow when you know they come not from some remote Appalachian cabin but a shared house in Stratford, east London.
Only their debut album? Really? Stratford’s Dry The River seem to have been around for ever, their name etched onto touring schedules and Introducing articles since around the time we evolved eyes. Somewhere in southern France there are caves featuring crude outlines of singer Peter Liddle ground into the walls by hooves, Werner Herzog’s accented narration drowned out by an ever-rising buzz of hype. At some point last year it became a tinnitus, amplified by a growing live reputation, longlisting for the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 and a major-label bidding war.
British Americana, huh? That seems to be stretching it a bit. Dry the River are a folk-rock group from the Stratford neighborhood in northeast London, who sing about the Bible Belt, Shaker hymns, and other typically American subjects. When we already have to swallow Appalachian-inspired folk hailing from the Pacific Northwest (Fleet Foxes) and bluegrass-tinted folk from the Iceland (Of Monster’s and Men), must we now import our roots rock from overseas? The American subject matter is a little tough to chew when it pops up in their lyrics (“Shaker Hymns” is probably the strangest, describing the specifics of a Shaker wedding ceremony from a first-person perspective), but it’s not really all that more disingenuous than similar stuff coming from some of the Yanks on the scene.
Members of London, UK-based quintet Dry the River did time in their local hardcore punk scene before forming this folk-rock outfit. You wouldn't know that from listening to their debut, Shallow Bed, but both genres do have an affinity for singers with bold, oversized personalities. Peter Liddle fits that requirement perfectly; his voice carries a long, long way, even as it quivers and threatens to break under the weight of his emotions.
Almost a whole year after the East-London five-piece recorded their 11-track debut in Connecticut, Dry The River’s ‘Shallow Bed’ is finally set for release this spring. It’s certainly been a successful year for the band, one that has seen the quintet’s profile continue to rise and consequently earn a nomination for the celebrated BBC Sound Of 2012 award, while quietly accumulating new legions of fans and laying the groundwork for what is surely set to be a landmark year. What was once the solo moniker of front man Peter Liddle, today Dry The River encompasses five members and an immense, orchestral sound.
A brave debut from a long-hyped band, mixing punkish energy with folk elements. Tom Hocknell 2012 Who wants to be in a guitar band with the pressure of rescuing an apparently fading genre? Well Dry the River do, and their intention is clear. Bearing tattoos and professing to a love of US hardcore, the London-based five-piece have been up for the scrap since 2011’s well-received Weights and Measures EP, and tore up last year’s SXSW festival.
Caught in the wake of Anglophiled Americana, this East London quintet's debut LP runs on more power than its calculated harmonies suggest. Shallow Bed feels intentionally restrained, with the band wanting to rock more than stomp, but employing that tension well, no doubt partly influenced by National producer Peter Katis. A heavy bass riff drives "Animal Skins," countering the high-floating reach of Peter Liddle's vocals.