Small Brown Bike The River Bed

[Lookout!; 2003]

Styles: post-hardcore, emo
Others: Cursive, Get Up Kids, Jawbreaker

Oh boy. I sure as hell ain't getting paid for writing this, but I could easily lose my place on this site if I write the review I'm so tempted to of The River Bed.

But you know what, this record is pretty good. That is, if you narrow it down to the loving testament of Lookout! general manager's promotional letter, or if you've ever just succumbed to stuff like Mineral as I often have in the past. To the safe, tried, and true chugging guitar and impassioned crooning that can command you to forget about how many other bands do the exact same thing with the exact same results. There are buttons to be pushed by straightforwardly introspective lyrics that all music fans have.

But I just can't put aside the fact that these buttons can be pushed so much more innovatively by less formulaic artists like Radiohead, Xiu Xiu, Rachel's, Sunny Day Real Estate (first 2 LPs, of course), Chavez, etc. The River Bed is as accomplished (perhaps more-so) than these artist's works as far as cohesive structure goes and could be fairly evocative at the proper volume. And to their credit, these guys include more dynamic shifts than most of their forlorn ilk. Unfortunately, these shifts do not save the banal predictability of the melodies, and studio prowess doesn't always lead to the intuitive spark and spontaneity that separates simply good songs from the truly notable.

But there's a HUGE market for bands like this, and Small Brown Bike should get their place in the moody adolescent voids their tunes bring vividly to mind. As a person who loves emotive (but not emo, mind you. fuck it if this has already been said, but "emo" as a descriptive term is just a big brimming crock of shit.) rock music, I want to like these guys. The playing and singing is assured and earnest. The little noises and samples are deftly placed. The lyrics are... Well, I'd better not get started on them.

So there it is. Fans of genuine, if generic, post-hardcore moping will find plenty to enjoy here. As for music fans looking for something new and interesting, leave the Small Brown Bike alone. That fucking band name! It's as though they sat around and tried to think of the most bland... Okay, I'm sorry. I'll stop now. 

1. Deconstruct/Rebuild
2. Safe in Sound
3. A Declaration of Sorts
4. Scream in the Silence
5. Day and Nightmares
6. Tragically Ending
7. Sincerely Yours
8. What's Missing is Dead
9. The Outline of Your Hand Still Remains on My Hand
10. A Lesson to Remember