Returning with their first full length album, Here for the After, Columbia alt-rockers Dreiberg have upped their production values without sacrificing any intensity. “We tried to make sure to give the listener the same level of energy they’d get if they see us live” says singer/ guitarist Rich Owensby and he and bandmate Brett Wider on drums do just that; Owensby obviously credits the power of The Riff and should easily make the audience adherents to his belief system. Even if you primarily listen to riff-oriented styles of music as disparate from Dreiberg’s new school alt-rock, like say metal or hardcore, you can clearly appreciate that Rich is attending the same School of the Riff that those guys do. Sometimes he is like Greg Sage from the Wipers, whose early ’80s alt-rock guitar throws around its weight in punk-influenced single-note runs that turn into bludgeoning chord rave-ups chasing their own demise. And then sometimes he is evoking an early incarnation of Johnny Rzeznik, back when he just wanted to jam, long before the Goo Goo Dolls grew up and went adult contemporary. Other times, you can hear J. Mascis’ style and his dichotomy of laid back intensity. Despite all my comparisons, the duo have a great original sound and once again, the lack of a bass doesn’t hinder them. The strategic use of an octave pedal, bass amp and some nice bass drum work put all the worries about no bass player to rest.
The album begins with “The Level”, its slightly dirty guitar building power à la Nirvana, and its great soaring vocals and snaking, churning riffs showcase the bands well-used loud/ quiet dynamic. “Fall of Maria” has an incessant guitar part that morphs into its roiling mid-pace and completes itself with a frenetic, impervious guitar solo that is made up of run after guitar run. “End of May” has a guitar-bashing attitude with some frenzied drum fills and a guitar line that playfully keeps step with the vocal patterns. “Lament” has an old-timey surf rock intro with a straight-up Weezer feel. There is a blatant and unapologetic appreciation for pop going on here and it makes a nice change of pace from the previous songs. “Pound Away” has an old school hard rock sound, thanks to the bluesy riffing and the quick drumming of Wider jumps in and out at the beginning of “Ricochet”, setting it up to become a great sing-a-long rocker. “Farewell, Adrianne” wins for catchiest chorus on the record and still maintains a driving rock sound in the process. Closer “Icon” is the most ambitious, starting with a lightly played guitar with effects, the song plays with time signatures but never gets oppressively prog.
If you are into bands like Weezer or the Foo Fighters, then Dreiberg will probably ring a few bells for you. They have a modern take on ’90s alt-rock that would also appeal to anyone looking for something a little different in their indie rock playlist, without losing a pop appeal. Even with all the comparisons, the whole is other than the sum of its parts and Dreiberg do an amazing job of not really sounding like anyone else. That’s good news for you as the listener so go check them out live and maybe pick up a copy of Here for the After.
Recommended if you like: Weezer, Foo Fighters, Local H
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.