Run River North explores new sound


The sophomore album of indie rock band Run River North, entitled “Drinking from a Salt Pond,” explores new territory in sound and message as an unconventional rock album that blends folk, classical and acoustic music. Since the band nearly broke up twice in 2015, the existence of this album is a testament to fighting for loved ones. As lead singer Alex Hwang says, “It wasn’t about forgive and forget, but forgive and keep giving, keep sticking around.”

The opening track “(Funeral) Parade” starts with the holistic sounds with which Run River North has become so associated; the meshing of classical strings with bass, electric guitars and drums feels natural, even seamless. It is a declaration of the band’s folk roots and, more importantly, a declaration that the band is still here, with repeated lyrics that “the earth that is filled keeps steady the ground we walk.”

As a whole, the album ventures into the unfamiliar in terms of the band’s style, as the sound becomes darker and heavier in tone and the vocals more intense and fired up with each subsequent track. The culmination of this buildup away from its acoustic folk origins comes in the song “Pretender,” in which the band fully embraces this deeper rock sound. Even still, it retains its element of authenticity in lyrics; the song’s vulnerability conveys the hard-hitting, speaking volumes about the different demons that people battle. Indeed, everyone can take away something different after listening.

As the album comes to a close, the rage that dominates the majority of the album dissipates and turns contemplative. In conjunction with this transition in theme, the sound adopts softer vocals while placing a greater emphasis on the keyboard. This album is not simply for angsty teenagers who need to let off steam; “David Robinson,” “Winter Wind” and “Funeral (Parade)” demonstrate the band’s maturity and reflect on lessons learned of not playing the finger-pointing game, of voicing the uncomfortable—lessons that transcend beyond the context of the album’s making.

“Drinking from a Salt Pond” shows immense growth. Run River North didn’t sugarcoat the difficulties it endured over a year, and instead acknowledged this period of turmoil, along with all that can be taken from it, and turned it into an album of greater freedom and honesty in expression. Best played on full blast when driving alone at night, this album is one for the ages.

By Michelle Chang, Editor-in-Chief

Photo courtesy of Run River North

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