The Reivers: New Zeitgeist, Same Band

By Michael Corcoran. Musician, no. 111, Jan. 1988 p10(1).

When the Austin, Texas band Zeitgeist was forced to change their name- a Minneapolis new-age choral group owned the rights- they chose to call themselves the Reivers, after the book by William Faulkner. And many Austin scenesters had a good laugh. One club advertised an appearance by the Reivers and under it, in parentheses, questioned “the Reivers????” Singer/guitarist John Croslin couldn’t go out without people asking him “what’s a reiver?” (Scottish for “ruffian”) and why he chose that name (“I like the book”). Everyone loved that Croslin, a perfectionist whose pain-in-the-ass stories are legion, had made an irreversible mistake.

But when the band took the stage for the first time with the new handle, Croslin walked right up to the microphone and announced, “We’re the Reivers, okay?” Then he quickly led the mixed- doubles group into “Baby.” Within moments the scene aped the aura of a Zeitgeist gig, with wall-eyed liberal arts majors in baseball jerseys basking in sketchy lyrics colored with broad harmonies and tacked down by a black beat. The Reivers had made their point; Zeitgeist by any other name would sound as sweet.

Though the name change held up the release of Saturday, their major-label bow, and diminished their recognition factor, the Reivers are a tough bunch who know that the music-biz fandango goes two steps forward, one step back. After Translate Slowly found favor with critics and college radio DJs, Zeitgeist toured extensively to packed clubs along the eastern seaboard. Just as it appeared that they were on their way to Deli Platterville, singer/guitarist Kim Longacre got pregnant and dropped out. Her heavenly voice in tandem with Croslin’s gruff murmur is such a big part of the band’s sound that Longacre proved irreplaceable. After seven months of group setbacks, Longacre returned and Zeitgeist picked up as if she had just gone out for coffee.

They forged ahead on their second LP for the indie label, but also shopped the finished tape to the bigs. A Capitol A&R rep liked what he heard and worked out a deal to distribute the record. Before long producer Don Dixon was en route to Austin to guide the material once more through the boards.

The resulting album by the Reivers will not surprise Zeitgeist fans. The drums are fatter and the vocals cleaner than on Translate Slowly, but the overall sound is indelibly the work of Croslin, Longacre, Cindy Toth and Garrett Williams. They’re the Reivers, okay?