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.”