Review – End of the Day 1

Review – “End of the Day”. Robert Baird. Stereophile, Vol. 21, No. 2, Feb. 1998 (“Records to Die For” feature).

Originally known as Zeitgeist, this Austin, Texas band led what came to be known by the too-cute name of the “New Sincerity” movement. Live and on record, being “sincere” translated to low-key guitar pop whose lyrics could get downright pastoral. Rising at the same time as the pumping fist of Seattle grunge, the Reivers were Nirvana’s antithesis: melody was king, the Byrds echoes were audible, and although they could get moderately loud and rockin’, most of their songs hovered in the midtempo to ballad range. Although much of what they did could be called “folk rock,” their music was full of angst, and could switch from delicate to driving in a blink.
After a name change to the title of Faulkner’s last novel (necessitated by a Minnesota group already named Zeitgeist), the Reivers quietly moved from Atlanta indie Db Records to Capitol. Here, on their sophomore major-label flop—which, of course, is beloved by all in the cult of Reiverdom—John Croslin-penned tunes like “It’s About Time,” “Almost Home,” and “Discontent of Winter” (co-written by guitarist Kim Longacre) are brilliant melodic gems that paradoxically share a strength with Kurt Cobain’s tunes: the evocative use of loud/soft dynamics. While the soundstage is often flat, the sound is surprisingly crisp and well defined.

Perhaps this band’s greatest charm was its division of labor. Longacre and bassist Cindy Toth were equally important (at least in terms of playing), as were drummer Garrett Williams and John Croslin—the band’s singer, songwriter, guitarist, and mood ring. The vocal interplay between Longacre and Coslin gleams throughout this disc, and Longacre also shines on her solo take of “Lazy Afternoon” (a show tune Babs once cut). For seasoning, the band usually threw in an instrumental; here it’s the hooky, slacker-titled “Dude Man Hey.” Since they broke up in 1991, The Reivers have become one of America’s great lost bands. Everything in their now-out-of-print catalog is worth seeking out.