#6 on the 2012 Musical Bacon Calendar
Shallow Bed by Dry The River
I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of a band as “radio friendly” — meaning, seemingly produced specifically for commercial radio — and underrated at the same time. I find plenty of bands being “radio friendly” or underrated, but those traits simply don’t go — or, really, belong — together. And that’s precisely why I like Dry The River.
You’ve probably never heard of these guys, which astounds me. They seem to be perfectly tailored to blowing up the charts. Maybe it’s poor marketing here in the U.S., or maybe they’re truly not as great as I feel they should be. They’re fairly big in their homeland of London, England, though: Shallow Bed, which was released in March, peaked at #28 on the UK album charts — not something to shake a stick at. And even though I feel the album is a touch over-produced, they have the masterful Peter Katis listed as producer for the album. Katis produced many a Bacon Calendar Alumni (e.g., #5 in 2009 and #7, #2 and #1 in 2010, &c.) — christ, no wonder I love this album.
The band has five members: Peter Liddle, who plays guitar and is the lead singer, singing entirely in falsetto; Matthew Taylor on backing vocals, keyboards and guitar; Scott Miller on bass and backing vocals (the three of them make fantastic harmonies together); Jon Warren on drums, and Will Harvey, mostly on violin, but also on a few other stringed instruments. I got to see the band at Sasquatch! 2012, and I wrote at the time, “I predicted that they would slay on stage, and I couldn’t have been more right.”
As a good friend said to me after seeing their performance: “They like the bombast.” One of the backbones of any good, epic song is to start real quiet and then build to a triple-guitar crescendo. Dry The River discovered this mechanism on the first song of the album, and then carried it through to nearly every other song within. After as many listens as I’ve given this album (it was my 2nd-most listened to album this year), it can get a bit tiresome. But if you’ve not heard the album, you’ve got at least 50 rotations on the album before you’ll hit the same point I have.
The video for “New Ceremony,” above, is what originally hooked me on the band, but be sure to check out their other videos as well: “Chambers and the Valves,” “Weights and Measures,” and the king of the bombastic: “No Rest” (and an alternate video for that song, featuring arguably the best poster I’ve ever seen).
The band is nice enough to recognize their own faults, as they recently released Shallow Bed Acoustic, an entirely new, entirely quiet recording of the same album. It is equally as good.
I think this won’t be the last we’ve heard of Dry The River. Perhaps they’re new record (slated for recording in January) will be even more amazing, and more widely spread. For now, we have two versions of Shallow Bed to keep us occupied.
7. Valtari by Sigur Rós
8. The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
9. Heaven by The Walkmen
10. State Hospital EP by Frightened Rabbit
11. A Thing Called Divine Fits by Divine Fits
12. Some Nights by fun.
13. Tramp by Sharon van Etten
14. Fear Fun by Father John Misty
15. Love This Giant by David Byrne and St. Vincent
16. To The Treetops! by Team Me
17. The Master: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood
18. There’s No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man On Earth
19. Transcendental Youth by The Mountain Goats
20. A Church That Fits Our Needs by Lost In The Trees
21. Hospitality by Hospitality
22. Free Dimensional by Diamond Rings
23. History Speaks by Deep Sea Diver
24. A Different Ship by Here We Go Magic
25. Negotiations by the Helio Sequence
26. Moms by Menomena
27. The Sound of the Life of the Mind by Ben Folds Five
28. Shields by Grizzly Bear
29. Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun by The Wooden Sky
30. Fragrant World by Yeasayer
31. Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells