A generation ago in DIY rock and roll it seemed like every band needed to move to Philly to make it big. In the past decade the internet has completely democratized DIY, there are legitimate scenes popping up all over the country and great bands are coming out of them. This flattening of the playing field has helped move people’s attention in Philly back on the local artists who were always the backbone of the scene. Riverby is a Philly DIY rock band who seems particularly poised to take the spotlight next. Lead by singer and guitarist Sophia Greenberg, Riverby has been growing steady momentum in Philly thanks to their confessional songwriting and gorgeous, dynamic voice. Sophia introduced Riverby to the world last year’s A Guide to Oversharing EP, a beautiful collection of songs where they sing about a less than perfect relationship and the pieces that need to get picked up as a result. They have always been a confident and smart writer. On the chorus of standout “Fault Line” Greenberg sings about how they know they won’t be the hero of their ex’s story when he tells it but that they cannot and should not be apologizing for the way the world lead them to crumble. It’s a testament to how multi-layered “moving on” really can be, and the multitude of things you really need to let go of to actually get over someone, from a forgotten sweatshirt to becoming a villain in some small side-plot in their life.
While all the tracks on A Guide to Oversharing are beautiful and well written, there is a softness to them that belies the wide range of emotion that they is pouring into the music. The band is gearing up to release Riverby’s debut album Smart Mouth and its’ first two singles have an aggressive edge that sets them apart from the band’s previous work. The first single, the Poe inspired “The Tell Tale Heart” starts off with Sophia trying to convince themself of their own sanity. They opens staring into the mirror and reminding themselves that,
“The thing you need to know is you’re not sad he broke your heart, you’re devastated that you let him piece you together and watch you fall apart. What you need to do now is forgive yourself first. I know it’s easier said than done, I know there’s pain that you love to nurse.”
The entire opening verse is a sobering self-reflection, a blank acknowledgement on their part that letting this man continue to torment them after they have left one another’s lives is tantamount to wallowing in self-pity. They are demanding themselves to move on. However, they are far from letting this guy off the hook. Each time they belts the chorus Greenberg gets louder and more defiant, as they yell “Every time you go you take another piece of me! Don’t you know you leave an empty space behind that feels like it’s the death of me,” sounding more and more like Frances Quinlan the harder they roar. Greenberg wrote the first verse at nineteen only to revisit it and complete the song six years later, and the song served as a very real opportunity for them to push past their pain and reassess what they saw as a personal tragedy.
Second Single, “Nose to Nose” finds Greenberg quite literally staring at themself in the mirror, nose to nose with themself again. They wrote the song as an appeal for their own self confidence, asking themself how someone so pretty could look so sad, like they are their own Fonz trying to cheer up Joanie in the diner from Happy Days. It’s monumental hook is pillowed by the lighter introspective verses, making for a perfect balance. Greenberg closes the chorus asking themself “How do I get out of my own head” and I’ve been asking myself the same thing about this track. The song will serve as the album opener for Smart Mouth and it makes for a perfect introduction to the band, as Greenberg shows off the breadth of their sonic and emotional range in less than three minutes.
In anticipation of their debut album Riverby signed to Take This To Heart Records. They had this new record mastered by Ryan Schwabe who has done the mastering for Philly legends from Algernon Cadwallader to Modern Baseball, and most importantly Hop Along. In tune these last two singles are a step up in every regard from Riverby. They are among the the most promising bands to come out of Philly in some time, and whenever they can I have no doubts this record will have every basement in Fishtown bumping like its 2012 again.