A couple of months ago I was sitting in a hallway on campus when a guy next to me looked over and saw the photoshopped Neutral Milk Hotel screensaver I had on my phone. We somehow got to talking about musicians who knew how to work their way around an acoustic guitar, and squeeze every possible amount to power and emotion out of it. A few people we came up with were Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel and Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional. If I ever find that guy again I’ll be adding Brendan Rivera to that short-list.
“Introduction” is exactly what the title implies. A short, tranquil acoustic number that drops you into the title track, which is a bit rough around the edges. This can be used to describe most of his songs though. Tracks like “Carved House” and “Centerfold” and “Kingdom” are all bluntly honest, sincere and instrumentally much louder than other tracks – though they’re followed by simple and pleasant acoustic numbers like “Strangers” and “New Tattoo”.
No Ocean In Ireland has obvious highlights. “Sail Away” starts off acoustically but takes no time in the build up. It’s upbeat, fast tempo qualities alone could make it a standout, but it’s also tied for some of the best lyrics. It’s main competition comes from the stabbing words and heart wrenching delivery in the closer “Sands of Ours” which boasts one of the better lyrics like “Don’t count on me to be the one you love/I’ll be there in the end when you need a friend.” It’s this last song, something steadfast and emotional, that represents Rivera as an artist as a whole.
I normally take a musician’s own description of their sound with a grain of salt. More often than not, they either come off as slightly pretentious, or just completely off the mark. Maybe they’ll throw a couple bands that they enjoy into their RIYL, but that sound nothing like them. I don’t know, but when Brendan Rivera described his sound as “Irish-Americana indie rock” he was dead on. You can listen here: http://brendanrivera.bandcamp.com/album/no-ocean-in-ireland
RIYL: Mumford & Sons, Brand New, Jimmy Eat World, Good Old War
2. No Ocean In Ireland
3. Hole In The Curtain
4. Carved House
7. Sail Away
8. Silver Moon
9. New Tattoo
11. Sands of Ours