River Whyless came to us via an email from one of their fans. She said, “If you have some time to take a listen you won’t be sorry.” No lofty band comparisons included and no hipster name-dropping – just a bold proclamation.
Not knowing if I was about to hear electronica, metal or some blend of the both, I took a listen and was immediately floored. Turns out they are a four piece from Boone, NC and they kick out an earnest, upbeat brand of Appalachian folk. The two main songwriters are Ryan O’Keefe and Halli Anderson and it says here that Halli is also a classically trained violin player and she isn’t afraid to put it to good use.
They have a sound familiar with other HearYa favorites such as Horse Feathers, Seryn and Wilderness of Manitoba. My favorite tune is “Stone,” a sprawling 7 minute plus tune that explores religious themes (or at least I think they do). It starts with a melody that would sound comfortable on a Fleet Foxes album and then at about three minutes, it breaks down with some spectacular and ominous violin playing before coming to a standstill. The guitar and banjo slowly pluck the song back to life with Anderson on vocals. Then the band builds into a climatic finish and ends with just the chorus and a feeling of peaceful satisfaction.
There is plenty more to like on A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door. Great thing is you can go find out for yourself if you download it on bandcamp on the cheap or for free. In addition, those lucky enough to be in Austin will have the chance to catch them at SxSW. I have a feeling that you will be hearing much more of River Whyless .