Reviews – Re-Releases 1

Reviews- “Saturday” and “End of the Day” re-releases. Robert Baird. Stereophile, November, 2000 p185(1).

It’s often the “other” music scene – the one within a scene – that’s most interesting. Take Seattle, for example. In the 1980s, Nirvana was an undeniably life-altering musical experience, but beneath or outside the grunge universe were the Posies, who sounded very unlike grunge and were almost a separate scene unto themselves. 

The same thing happened in Austin late in that decade. While Stevie Ray Vaughan’s power-trio blues got all the national ink, the so-called “new sincerity” movement of ‘60s-influenced pop guitar bands, many peopled by students from the University of Texas, was infinitely more happening. 

Originally called Zeitgeist, The Reivers (after the Faulkner novel of the same name), changed their name and signed with Capitol, who then released these two albums. Softer than the Posies yet ballsier, with more guitar growl than power pop, this upbeat folk-rock shows, in retrospect, many of the attributes – sturdy tunes, spare arrangements, a bandwise espirit de corps – that made alternative music appealing in the first place. 

The key ingredient of the Reivers’ appeal was its gender balance: two women and two men, with one singer of each sex. John Croslin’s weedy, almost talky “voice” and Kim Longacre’s soaring mezzo often interwove to great effect. 

Purists inevitably prefer Saturday, which has tunes like “In Your Eyes,” which first typified the band’s songwriting style and overall sound, and dumb/fun instrumentals like “Karate Party.” But End of the Day is a more polished, tuneful, and coherent album of ballads, rockers, poet-eyed lyrics, and a canny sense of alternating loud and soft tracks to great advantage. “It’s About Time,” “Almost Home,” and “Discontent of Winter” are all very distinct “alternative” rock numbers recorded at a time when that genre was rapidly exploding its way into blandness. American pop has seldom been as compelling. 

Considering that both albums were DIY efforts backed by a major label, the sound is decently spacious and immediate. Kudos to Dualtone for bringing both back into print.