Album Review: Riverbug’s “Riverbug”

Although their frontman has graduated, Riverbug will make their return soon with a show at Lawrence and the release of their self-titled debut extended play (EP). The band, a collection of composer and frontman Luke Rivard’s ’15 friends, combines elements of many genres—folk, minimalism and post-rock, to name a few. Rivard directs the group and writes nearly all of the lyrics and music straight from his heart to theirs and, eventually, to the listeners’ hearts as well.

Riverbug consists of senior Ilan Blanck on guitar, Meri Bobber on vocals, fifth-year senior Tim Carrigg on keyboard, super-senior Joe Connor on saxophone, senior Henry Geraghty on vocals, junior Jakob Heinemann on bass guitar, and Dan Reifsteck ’15 and Rivard on drums and percussion. Despite Rivard writing, composing and arranging the whole EP—save for the lyrics on the last song, “Moonbeam”—each musician brings their own personality and warmth to each track, creating a touching, heartfelt set of compositions.

Having somehow missed every one of their performances on campus last year, I was not sure what to expect when I saw the news from Rivard that an EP was in the works. I had worked with him in Jazz Band last year, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear the record was not based in jazz but in singer-songwriter, a type of music I had no idea he was passionate about. What grabbed my attention even more was how Rivard not only opens up musically on the EP—blending many of the music genres he is passionate about—but also lyrically. No matter how chillingly, heartbreakingly or powerfully Bobber and Geraghty sing, the vocals and the words attached to them are honest and emotional. It is beautiful to hear the two take Rivard’s words and melodies in and deliver them with both his and their sentiments.

The act of movingly taking Rivard’s music and playing it as one’s own is true for the other members as well. Each instrument swirls together wonderfully, washing over the listener wholly and equally in a way that can be challenging with such a large band. This works so well due to Rivard’s recognition as not only a leader, but also as a fellow musician. It is clear he wants to lead the band while also letting them come together organically, creating a culmination of friendship and commonality via music.

I cannot wait to see them perform and talk to the band soon for my column, Meditations on Music. In this column, you will get a glimpse at Rivard’s composition process, the personalities of the members and a more personal reaction to their music.

You can hear the first track, “Live Between,” at Riverbug will be playing this Sunday, May 15 at 8 p.m. in front of the Cafe. Physical CDs will be available for purchase at the concert, and a digital release will be available on their Bandcamp page on June 1.