By The Rivers-‘By the Rivers’ (Kompyla Records)
If on paper, By The Rivers might not sound a great proposition (six young white guys playing reggae) a quick blast of their music blasts away your preconceptions AND prejudices. I think I was in a cynical, grumpy mood (just for a change) when this first popped into my inbox. Within a short space of time I was genuinely uplifted.
The band take their name not from a Boney M ‘classic’ (*cough*) but because the band were formed by two guys from Leicester named after rivers, Nile Barrow and Jordan Birtles. Expanded to a six-piece, right from the off with opener ‘Vulture’ this album makes you long for proper weather and a decent summer.
And hell, even if it doesn’t shine out there (and this is Scotland I’m writing in), By The Rivers are a joy, Goddamit. In a just world, this sparkling debut would be the sound of summer. This can be an unjust world, but I’m going to do my bit and play this loud…
By The Rivers is out now on Kompyla
An interview with By The Rivers will appear here shortly.
There are occasions when my cynicism can almost get the better of me.
The email mentioned ‘six-piece band set to be the sound of the summer.’ The amount of hype that gets in my inbox made me think ‘really?’ In a ‘I’m not sure I’m even going to be convinced. AT ALL’ sort of way. They looked like another indie-by-numbers band, despite the fact that the email from the PR company mentioned reggae, motown and ska. I thought I’d give them thirty seconds before trying to work my way through the warzone that is my inbox.
Within a short space of time, I realised I’d been extremely hasty. Out of a mixture of contrition but mostly enjoyment, I sat down to listen to the entirety of their forthcoming self-titled debut album, which is out on Kompyla Records on May 6.
The Leicester band comprise Nile Barrow (Lead Vocals and Guitar), Jordan Birtles (Drums and Vocals), Sam Read (Keys, Guitar and Vocals), Matt Willars (Bass). Will Todd (Tenor Saxophone) and Leo May (Trumpet). And amongst those expressing admiration for the band is no less as expert on reggae, soul and roots music than Lynval Golding of The Specials who has described them as being the ‘new Specials.’
White folks playing reggae doesn’t have to end up like UBbloody40, you know…
The sound of the summer? They could well be. And that would be a good thing.