August Greenberg knows how to make an impression. The very first time we encountered the singer, songwriter, and frontperson of Philly indie rock band Riverby, they were cosplaying a deer in the playfully surreal music video for “The Truth” — a folky song from their 2019 EP The Guide To Oversharing about coming to terms with the (wise) decision to walk out of a toxic relationship. Six months later, as we were in the early days of COVID lockdown, Riverby grabbed us with the volume and energy of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a soaring slice of indie pop-punk in the vein of Charly Bliss with commanding lyrics that the songwriter characterized as a note to their younger self. The record it was from, Smart Mouth, was an uplifting source of life during the pandemic (take a deep dive in this interview with XPN’s Sean Fennell) and their first gig on the other side, at West Philly Porchfest last June, felt like an arrival for a band that had been making its way through the scene in fits and starts for four years.

Now, it’s 2022, and Riverby is back with their sophomore album — Absoution, released in March on Take This To Heart Records — and once again Greenberg and the band make their entrance in a big way. The music is louder and bolder, channeling brash 80s rock and emo-adjacent post-millennial punk, and the lyrical themes journey through post-traumatic catharsis to self-acceptance and healing. The band is also bigger in numbers; Riverby in its full form is now a six-piece, with long-standing guitarist Tyler Asay and bassist Doug Keller (also of The Tisburys) joined by keyboardist / vocalist Mol White, guitarist / vocalist Jeanette Lynne (of Best Bear) and drummer GT Fiordaliso.

This six-person edition of Riverby joined us in WXPN studios this spring for a spirited Key Studio Sessions performance that showcased the hollering peaks and hushed valleys of Absolution, beginning with the badass rager “Fall In Love.”

Riverby: "Fall In Love" (The Key Studio Sessions)
Riverby: "The Moon" (The Key Studio Sessions)
Riverby: "Heavy To Hold" (The Key Studio Sessions)

An entrancing performance of “The Moon” leads into breathtaking harmonies on “Heavy To Hold,” a Mazzy Star-esque number where half the band sits out, Asay contributes dreamy guitar leads, and Greenberg harmonizes with White in a moment of tender vulnerability. But we’re back into the zone of badassery for a full-band performance of the single “Birth By Sleep,” a rejection of the manic pixie dream girl fantasy, with Smart Mouth‘s driving “Nose To Nose” closing the set.

Watch Riverby’s Key Studio Session above and below, and keep an eye out for the band around the region this spring. If you’re seeing The Front Bottoms’ sold-out concert at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City tonight, Riverby is opening the show; back in Philly on Friday night, Greenberg plays a solo set at Manayunk hangout Dawson Street Pub. And the first Saturday in June, Riverby’s back at West Philly Porchfest, headlining a stacked porch at 4930 Osage Avenue. For more, grab yourself a copy of Absolution care of Take This To Heart Records.

Riverby: "Birth By Sleep" (The Key Studio Sessions)
Riverby: "Nose To Nose" (The Key Studio Sessions)