This new single from six-piece Leicester band By the Rivers kicks off with ‘Take Control’ in its light reggae treatment – vocals up-front with the instrumentation supporting rather than dominating, while the lyrics of political alienation mirror those of another Midlands ghost town a generation ago. The ‘radio riddle remix’ of the same song follows, courtesy of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals extra-curricula production project, and this is indeed a bit of a revelation. With a different bass track and a heavier rhythm section altogether, the brass is mixed further back into an assertive dub-leaning production – this highly impressive contemporary roots handling of the song deserves to be widely heard beyond the band’s existing audience. The third and final track, ‘Don’t Stand Alone’, has an acoustic folksy reggae-light style. It would be interesting to hear it in a similarly reconstructed style…

The clip featured here is a stripped-down acoustic version of ‘Take Control’ from last year.

By the Rivers: Take Control: Kompyla Records, CD/DDL, release 21st January 2013

The first single release from their debut album finds emergent Leicester-based band By The Rivers displaying an intriguing range of musical styles. They have generally been labelled folk/reggae but that doesn’t quite capture it. The lead track, ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’, suggests in its opening bars that we might be in for something at the twee end of the MOR spectrum, but happily it evolves quickly into a driving ska treatment of its upbeat melody, slowing later from ska to reggae and back, evoking the feel of the 2 Tone sound – perhaps not surprising for a new band that supported the Specials on tour last year. ‘Vulture’ is a heavier sound indeed, its ponderous remix charting a course through something that conjures up a bass-driven reggae sound and hints at, but never quite delivers, a hip-hop voice over the top. This interesting release concludes with a nice little acoustic take on their single ‘One Word’, which is altogether a far lighter reggae strumalong than the preceding tracks. Eat yer hearts out Mumford lads.

By the Rivers: Don’t Say You Love Me; Kompyla Records; release 1 October 2012.