Rick Keene Music Scene – Rivercat Provides 52 Saturday Nights of Real Rock N Roll

It may sound like a cliche but – it absolutely does not mean a thing without that swing.

Mark Rivers

Rivercat was established more than two decades ago. Principle songwriter and leader Mark Rivers honing his New Jersey-bred craft under the bright lights of New York City. Just like the Big Apple itself – Rivercat is a blend of everything. Just like The Big Apple itself – Rivercat is filled with attitude.

The first thing you hear within Rivercat on their new album 52 Saturday Nights is that Coney Island ‘noise’. Garland Jeffries has it, Lou Reed had it and anyone who has breathed that air – has it. The sound from Rivercat cannot be easily described nor can it easily be duplicated.

New Night – the first tune on the disc feels subdued. The guitars and vocals trapped under a sewer and clawing to escape the ‘muddy waters.’ Like a slow moving Demon – the tune gathers strength and breaks into a comfortable jam. The chemistry within Rivercat obvious. A feeling the best is yet to come on the disc; a given. New Night brings the foreplay.

Red Lipstick, the second tune – combines a rockabilly beat with a punk sound. In between – the vocals and chorus swoon like alternative birds. The music and the voices not quite connected which gives the song an edge and a view of the outside looking in. Intentional or not, a feeling of The Stones from Some Girls shines through. A real kick in the gut at loud volumes.

Perhaps the most radio friendly tune on the album – Down in the Streets, has swagger. A chaos which is neither Rock nor Punk. A Reggae feel with sloppiness. A first listen pinches the curiosity. A second go embeds the tune into a never ending session. If only all songs could be written this way.

Drive is Rock without the Roll. Guitar heavy and no sloppiness. A sign that Rivercat can do what it wants and do it well. A straight on tune with no messing around. An interesting precursor to the next tune on the disc – The Rain.

The Rain journeys into the 80s and 90s sound. Harmonies akin to the band Journey and rhythms which Chrissie Hynde would be proud of. The connotations within the lyrics on all songs – typical of New York. Keys on the song bring to mind a little Pink Floyd. The guitar solo simple but profound. Rivercat as we have heard thus far non existent. A tip of the hat to the band who are so diverse in their craft.

In Suzie’s Bullet, the band hits it’s Coney Island persona full tilt. Almost spoken lyrics ( hello Lou Reed?) evolve into hard riffs and a hard story. Once again – Rivercat harnessing energy. Teasing with bursts of what you can have if Rivercat wants you to have it. The ebbs and flows are sensational and fit the mood of a love tale gone bad.

52 Saturday Nights is a tribute to the band’s favorite night to play. The album reeks of Bourbon.

Bourbon retains the swagger of Rivercat. The swagger of New York. An off kilter track which gives attitude through perfectly placed guitar riffs, background vocals and in your face shots of rhythm. The entire sound gets you prepared for the second catchiest tune on the disc; Shake This House.

If you look up Rock N Roll in the dictionary – Shake This House should be there. Your toes start tapping. Your heart starts pounding. Your brain hears the rebellious lyrics and then one of the most catchiest choruses kicks in. You are dead from the waste down or head up if Shake This House does not end up on your playlist or you do not end up on the dance floor.

If music can make you feel you are crawling on the floor trying to explain yourself – then Party Train and Blue Whiskey have done their jobs.

Rivercat combine old school sensibilities in their tunes. Country acoustic popping up between electric riffs and Southern Blues. A Muscle Shoals ‘live on the floor’ gospel fuddled sound. Drawls and slurs appearing relentlessly through a spurned lover banging on the glass with a rose in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other..

The final two tracks on the album are anthems of sorts. Somebody 2 Rock commences with a teasing, slow moving beckon and then slaps you almost immediately with a powerful two punch. Guitars singing behind the words like a hurt animal giving the tune an added dimension not heard in the first ten songs on the disc. Live – this could be the first tune or the encore. Either way – it is another tune from the disc bound to end up on a playlist in the swampy landscape of pure Rock N Roll. Calling all nations …

One After 909 has the feel of a Beatles’ song because it is. One of the earliest Lennon / McCartney tracks and released on Let It Be almost ten years after it was written. The tune predates the Beatles’ Boy Band commercial career start with a predominately penned Lennon ‘Cavern’ song. Rivercat fittingly end 52 Saturday Nights with Rock n Roll although once more with a held back energy. The album starts and ends with a band forlornly in control of their sound and capabilities. Holding the reins of a trip everyone must take.

Rivercat are one of very few bands keeping Rock N Roll alive. In a New York state of mind. Of course …

You Really Should Visit Rivercat Right Here !