Small Brown Bike - The River Bed (Cover Artwork)

Small Brown Bike

Small Brown Bike: The River BedThe River Bed (2003)
Lookout Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:

Contributed by: maverickScott
(others by this writer | submit your own)

In my review of Small Brown Bike's Nail Yourself To The Ground EP a few months ago, I tried to be clever and compare this band's career to that of Cursive, another band who has been around for roughly the same time and put in roughly the same amount of legwork to get to their current level of popula.

In my review of Small Brown Bike's Nail Yourself To The Ground EP a few months ago, I tried to be clever and compare this band's career to that of Cursive, another band who has been around for roughly the same time and put in roughly the same amount of legwork to get to their current level of popularity [selling out thousand person venues, getting consistent plays on M2, and raking in critical praise]. I said that with Small Brown Bike's upcoming full-length, they'd be poised to make that same jump into spotlight that their friends had already completed.

I hate to say it, but with The River Bed, Small Brown Bike must've gotten something caught in it's spokes, as this album stays in first gear, never really making any progress. That's not to say it doesn't have it's moments, however.

The opening salvo of "Deconstruct/Rebuild" and "Safe in Sound" maintain the high energy level displayed on the quartet's last full-length, with a perfect blend of dynamic drumming and vocals that border on that line of gruffness. Sadly, the album peaks this early, and the group spends the next 8 songs trying to re-create that intensity in the first 7 minutes or so. "Scream in the Silence" is probably the strongest attempt of the band trying to regain their musical footing, with a driving-yet-dancable drum line and strong dual vocals.

The rest of the album isn't bad, per se - the problem is that it's just more of the same. None of the songs are real duds in the sense that I would purposely not listen to them ever again, but they are duds in the sense that none of them are really strong enough to stand up on their own, unlike almost every track on Dead Reckoning. The band seems to be playing it safe on this album, and it's a disappointment after seeing the potential for progression displayed on the Nail Yourself To The Ground EP. Where Cursive evolved with The Ugly Organ, Small Brown Bike seems content to rest on their laurels. Let's hope it's only a temporary funk.

Safe in Sound


People who liked this also liked:
Hot Water Music - CautionThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Draft - In a Million PiecesAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitThe Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home AboutJawbreaker - Dear YouHot Water Music - The New What NextWeezer - WeezerBraid - Frame & CanvasSmall Brown Bike - Dead Reckoning

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Dycelot (April 30, 2011)

I agree with the reviewer and would give fewer stars. This album fails at what it tried to do, and they obviously learned from that when you look at their recent work. Obviously more thoughtful in terms of song construction, but the result accomplished less than
simpler songs from "Our Own Wars" did in terms of hook and power.

swellersfan7407 (February 23, 2009)

THIS ALBUM DOES NOT DESERVE 3 STARS!! it isn't a masterpeice but is one of favorite albums this band is so creative and different than others.

Anonymous (September 3, 2005)

This is one of the best albums i own, those of you who have given less than 5 stars need to revisit this. If i knew what those dudes did to get this sound id kill for it. A lesson to remember is one of the most anthemic tracks of all time adn every track is pretty much the same. Best small brown bike without a doubt

Anonymous (December 27, 2004)

too much talk, not enough rock. In my humble opinion that is.

Anonymous (September 19, 2003)

the idea that 'the river bed' is a safe album seems a bit absurd to me. if it was safe then all of us fucks wouldn't be complaining about the lack of gruf in the vocals blah blah blah. in this sense, dead reckoning is a much more safe album considering the lack of obvious progression from 'our own wars'. they could have just made 'our own wars pt. 3' and the majority would have shit their pants in excitement. but they didn't make the same safe album. instead, they made an amazing new album with more layers and cleaner vocals but with as much sincerity and heart as ever. don't get me wrong, i love their first 2 albums, and still listen to them regularly, but i am just glad to have another great option to choose from.

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

the one point you are forgetting is that there was a gap inbetween burst and bloom and the ugly organ.

wheras all the songs on this and nail yourself to the ground were written for the same album. it's just that they thought a 19-song double disc would be a little over the top, so the ep was released.

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

good you give a shittier review?....of course your not gonna like it if your stuck on their old albums(from 3 years ago imight ad). you have to come at this album with a whole new perspective. this is a different band. they're not 20 years old anymore and i personally think this album shows it..maturity...something the other albums didn't have(i do love them though). great album in my opinion.

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

its good but slow, definitely for rainy days. not enough screaming, but still passionate. its basically a safe record. their next record will either be extremely good and maybe groundbreaking or will pretty much end their career. this is like a last chance for them kind of.

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

the production on our own wars sucks.

i said it.

theres so much nuance on this record, im telling you, wait for it to start raining, and play this record, its like a car skidding over a bridge into a ravine.

the pitchfork review for this is the worst though, im sure that guy gets out there demo tape that often. yeah.


notfeelingcreative (September 17, 2003)

Well they no longer sound like HWM to me.

dignin (September 16, 2003)

this is my favorite sbb album, good stuff.

hungryjoe (September 16, 2003)

"A Scream in Silence" is one of the best songs they've ever done. They've been doing it live for over a year now, and each time I heard it live, it blew me away.

Unfortunately, they can't keep up the momentum they build up on the first 4 songs.

I do, however, like the new style.

Nonsense (September 16, 2003)

It took me a few listens, but I've gotten really into this record.

Icapped2pac (September 16, 2003)

You pretty much said exactly what I was thinking, too, Scott. I was absolutely blown away by how good the EP was (minus that country shit), so my expectations may have been too high for this. But I've had this for a good month now, and I still can't get into it. Word to Ramo, though, SBB live is definitely where it's at. Since I've lived all over MI, I've had the pleasure of seeing them all over the place, and they never ever disappoint.

matt81 (September 16, 2003)

I'd agree with most everyone (sorry wyzo) that this is not SBB's best work. i will listen to it probably about as much as i listen to Dead Reckoning, but not nearly as much as i listen to Our Own Wars and Collection. they seem to lose the intensity and fierce edge on too many tracks. There are a few gems on this record however. the aforementioned Scream In The Silence is great, as is Safe In Sound, Deconstruct/Rebuild, and, my personal favorite, A Lesson To Remember. This same album, however, contains one of the worst SBB songs ever written, that being Sincerely Yours. I can't stand that song. anyways, i was gonna write a review on this but you beat it to me Scott; i guess i'll just have to settle for this comment. oh, and No Idea doesn't make bands, they just discover great ones...

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

this review captured my sentiments 100% exactly. it almost catches what nail yourself to the ground did, in a totally different manner than dead reckoning, but it gets dull as it progresses. it's not what i was hoping for and i hope the next one comes out soon to wash this all away. --citizen

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

REAL PUNX 4 LIFE!! 666!11

REALPUNX4LIFE (September 16, 2003)

Ya'll are dummies! I'll be getting this LP in the mail shortly (I hope, anyways) released by No Idea Records. How stupid! I only spent $6 on it, too! BWAHAHAHA! That's what you lame-os get for buying CDs instead of LPs. Plus, I think it's dumb that you think this record would be better if they'd stuck with No Idea. At least, I hope that's not what you're actually saying. Youd b prety dum.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

your right sweetsugarpez. it could be their worst album they did but it's still better than all the rest of the shit i'm hearing right now. SBB live is where it's at though. travis is mad funny.


Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

i went through my used to dead reckoning phase, for the first couple days of this album, but its a very cohesive and self contained record like reckoning, and in a week you'll all love it.


sweetsugarpezz (September 16, 2003)

although i havent spun this enough times to give a completely fair judgement, i was a bit dissapointed with "the river bed". it just seems to lack the intensity of "our own wars" or "dead reckoning". granted, both those albums grew on me more and more the longer i listed to them; hopefully "river bed" will too. i suppose i will come back in a few weeks with a fairer review/comment. i agree that maybe SBB should have stuck with no idea a bit longer... great label. dont get me wrong, this disc is better than 99% of all the other shit out there, but may be SBB's worst* album. either way, these guys rock and i cant wait till they come to atlanta.


*worst is used pretty fucking lightly. this albums still rocks...

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

This album really sucks
you have no taste in music

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

record of the year. Ill shove a spoke in your ear. Phenomenal record, amazing progression, huge bigness.


Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

Fix the MP3 links assclown!

Yes, you Scott, assclown!

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

i agree with your review of this album scott. i too was a lil disappointed when i receive this in the mail early yesterday. "scream in the silence" is one of my fav tracks along with "safe in sound" but you're right about the whole album. the songs don't stink but they are more or less the same song. not as diverse as "dead reckoning" or "nail yourself to the ground" for that matter. hopefully they would come back strong for their next record but for now i wish they stayed on No Idea for a lil while.


Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

i like this album a lot.

Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go