September 3, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

RVIVR have been a lightning rod in the punk scene virtually since their inception a half-decade ago. A lot of that has to do with the band’s intentionality and the makeup of their lineup, how they release their music, who they choose to perform with, etc. It’s funny; we often openly wish for our favorite bands to be more political or more outspoken, and then when they actually are, it tends to rub us the wrong way and color our opinions of their artistic output. In this case, Mattie Jo Canino is the sandpaper, a flawed person like the rest of us no doubt, but one who has been placed under perhaps an unfairly harsh microscope. I’m just as guilty as anyone of preemptively and unfairly judging Canino based on his words and quotes, both public and private.

But really, isn’t RVIVR exactly what most of us want out of our punk bands? A group of talented people coming together for a distinctly defined, positive purpose and vehemently adhering to what they believe in, regardless of what anyone thinks about it? It would be far easier for the band to just shut up and play music, or to be less biting in their criticism of the punk scene’s flaws, but they refuse to do that. RVIVR seem genuinely interested in provoking open dialogue through their music and live performances, which is and will always be sorely needed around here. Even if they’ve perturbed us in the past, we’re all better for having them around.

Certainly, it helps that all the members of RVIVR are extremely talented musicians. The band just released a new song, “Goodbyes,” from an upcoming EP titled Bicker & Breathe. The Erica Freas-fronted track really rocks; her vocal ability has always been one of the strongest parts of the band, and that’s on clear display here. The guitar interplay between Freas and Canino is, as it almost always is, interestingly and deceptively riffy. Chris Bauermeister, formerly of Jawbreaker and more recently, Shorebirds (who also featured Canino), plays bass on this recording and his work is clearly audible in the mix, which everyone knows is an important pillar of any quality punk recording. Bands, take note: If we can’t hear your bass player we can’t really hear your band.

Bicker & Breathe will be released digitally on Sept. 15, with a vinyl release through Yo-Yo Records and RVIVR’s own Rumbletowne Records to follow in October and November, respectively. Stream “Goodbyes” below.