Midwestern rockers Small Brown Bike rip through ten blistering examples of their hybrid hardcore emo and heavy punk on their 2003 release, River Bed. Double-tracked vocals, occasional harmonies, and discordant guitars are punctuated by lightning-fast stops and angular bridges, allowing the band's raw emotion to be offset by genuinely interesting song structures and instrumentation. Deftly produced by Dave Feeny, the album sounds bright and well-defined, somehow evading the murkiness that many "heavy indie rock" recordings fall victim to. With grinding guitars coming from all directions and occasional additional instrumentation (piano, acoustic guitars, acoustic bass) nestled in unobtrusively, the album goes sonically beyond other post-hardcore recordings. Associations with the Get Up Kids may be inevitable, and while the two bands may sound similar (although Small Brown Bike is much heavier and could probably take 'em in a fight), the members of SBB display much more inventive songwriting and a real attention to the soundscapes they create, transforming emotional three-minute postcards into heavy-duty novellas written in elegant black marker on the concrete walls of their blue-collar town.
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AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson