Here’s a clip of 21st century folk-rock meets post-punk London five-piece Dry The River. It’s their single “The Chambers & The Valves”, the third release from the band’s 2012 record Shallow Bed, their first full length. The group released this song on an EP of the same name in 2009, during a time when they were building up momentum to their debut.
The band formed that year, then consisting of Peter Liddle (Vocals, Guitar), Will Harvey (Violin) and Jon Warren (Drums), later to be joined by Matt Taylor (Guitar) and Scott Miller (Bass). They’ve since signed to Sony, and Shallow Bed was released in North America on April 17 of this year. Despite being a London-based band, and having built up an audience by way of appearances at key European festivals, the band recorded this song and the rest of the record in Bridgeport, Connecticut under the watchful eye of producer Peter Katis (Interpol, The National).
The band also garnered attention starting off as a completely self-contained entity, releasing their initial EPs on their own, and making their own videos. It was one of these that caught the attention of Sony. Here’s an excerpt from an interview on NPR, talking about how YouTube led to being signed by Sony.
“It was all just a bit haphazard, and I seemed to remember the guy that signed us from Sony, he first showed that video to his bosses and said, ‘I want to sign this band.’ And they said, ‘Who are these weird guys? There’s a guy with his arm in a sling, and a guy with a really overgrown beard, and it’s all a bit weird. We don’t really understand it.’ And then it got all these hits on YouTube, and then this kind of thing started to build up, and people started to talk about the band. I guess that was kind of the first stepping stone.” (read the full interview with Dry The River on NPR)
DIY promotions have remained to be an important aspect to Dry The River, particularly with their Listening string posters, which was an art and multimedia project that meshed old-fashioned string art posters (12 to be exact) with a means of allowing fans to preview their debut record in remote locations around London. The posters were created and then displayed, with tin cans (hiding a small speaker) used as a headphone to put the music right in the ears of the curious. Pretty quirky, and yet pretty innovative too.
There is a certain quirky factor in this video, too of course. But, the thing that stands out the most for me is the scale of the music, a kind of joyous, Phil Spectoresque sound that still seems very British somehow. There’s a certain haunted drama in lead vocalist Peter Widdle’s delivery, bolstered by a sort of street level folk rock through a post punk filter sound that can certainly be heard here, but also on other tracks.
Since the completion of the record, Dry The River have made their presence known at this year’s SXSW. Watch this interview with Dry The River, conducted while they were there.
They are currently on tour.
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Thanks to Sony Music Canada for sending along a digital copy of the Weights & Measures EP for reference.