The Bands of Summer – Dry The River

11 Jul

Over the next week The Music Court will profile six new bands that you, if you are not already, should be listening to. “The Bands of Summer” is the title of this special summer section. Many listeners who prefer oldies often conclude that no music released today is worth listening to. This is a false sentiment, and I know because I was once a recent music iconoclast. This list is short and there are several more talented new bands that are worth mentioning. Do a quick google search for best new bands of 2011 and you will be prompted with a dazzling display of new acts to listen to. Music is alive and well, trust me.

Let me explain that last sentence with a bit of a disclaimer. When I say music is alive and well, I am not talking about dub-step/hip-hop (throw-away genres that do not fit into this post). If you want to rage, that is the music for you, but if you are into appreciating tunes then this is the correct place. Many solid releases today fit under the broad umbrella of “indie” music. I believe you can split this genre up into several sub-genres (kind of like what I did with psychedelic music). There is folk/indie that has exploded with bands like Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons (who are leading the new British folk revival that parallels the early 70s). Then there is indie/pop which combines large bands with ambient sounds (like Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros). There are other sub-categories, but, for now let’s leave it at that. The bands that I will profile fit neatly into the parameters of indie music.

The band today is a up-and-coming indie/folk act who take the Mumford and Sons sound and transform it into music that is slightly less predictable and even operatic at parts. Dry The River is about to blow up and see the success that Mumford and Sons gained with Sigh No More. Singles are being released and music lovers are on their heels waiting for a full-length LP. Plus, on their Facebook “artists we like” section, The Magic Numbers are mentioned and that is just awesome.

Dry the River is best known through their tours. They have been touring since they were founded by Norwegian singer-songwriter Peter Liddle. Liddle added homeless punk-rock drummer (yes, he was homeless) Jon Warren, classically-trained violinist Will Harvey, guitarist Matt Taylor and bassist Scott Miller. The east-London band self-released a five-song EP in 2010 and have released a few singles since then (including the one below). What I think is most astounding about the band is their maturity. It sometimes takes an album (or two or three) before a band can release something worthwhile. But the EP is stuffed with rich sounds and Liddle’s powerful voice and the song below, “New Ceremony” can shoot up the charts with correct marketing. There is a huge record label bidding war for Dry the River and I understand why. It does not take a genius to realize that indie/folk is in and Dry The River is demonstrating their mastery of the genre.

“New Ceremony” is a perfect song. I do not often give such credit to bands, but Dry The River deserves it for this hit. The opening acoustic riff is intriguing. It is not effervescent, but rather somewhat melancholic. Liddle’s voice is choir-like. It explores the upper register with accuracy and efficiency. His annunciation flows well with the riff. The harmony leads into a true folk drop. The violin picks up the rhythm section with the drums. As the song starts adding more elements it speeds up and you get the feeling that it is about to get loud, and, true to Indie form, it does. But it is more theatrical than Mumford and Sons who simply speed up their acoustic instrumentation. Dry the River’s chorus (well the first part) takes a page out of Arcade Fire’s book. The music collides into an organized catharsis and Liddle’s voice is PERFECT. Seriously, it fits so well into the song’s somber explosion. Then the chorus shifts into a call and response harmony that fades into a violin rendition of the riff that transforms back into the chorus. It hits and hits and hits. The song is like Dry the River’s grand entrance into the indie party. Do you hear why record labels want to sign them?

I predict that after Dry the River releases an official LP they will become the new “in” Indie band. You will begin to hear “New Ceremony,” which has under 15,000 views on Youtube, on radio stations everywhere. So get linked in with Dry the River and enjoy the ride of witnessing the rise of a talented act.

One Response to “The Bands of Summer – Dry The River”


  1. The Bands of Summer – High Highs « The Music Court - July 12, 2011

    […] We travel today to ambient indie/pop after our exploration of the upper register of indie/folk with Dry The River yesterday. Everyone say hello to the Australian-born act titled High […]

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