It’s always exciting when a band introduces us to a new genre of music, which is exactly what was offered in the form of Riviera‘s ‘Motown Rock’n’Roll.’ The new musical definition, for us at least, is the band’s play on both their style of music and their location of Morgantown, West Virginia – which is apparently nicknamed Motown by the locals.
Riviera was formed by high school friends Mike Highinbotham (guitar and vocals), Sam Hartiens (drums) and Nate Pipes (bass and backing vocals), who got more serious about music in college and were joined by guitarist Zac Anderson and keyboard player Tony Goffoli.
We spoke to the band this week and, when asked what Motown Rock’n’Roll means, they told us: “Our singer’s voice has a style with portions noticeable to the Motown style of music, giving his own flair of soul. Undoubtedly, rock is literally the solid foundation of our sound, with driving verses and catchy, powerfully anthemic choruses.”
“People should expect each song to be different, highlighting all the different types of people and situations we’ve come across since moving here.”
The band released debut EP A New Place Like Home just two weeks ago, and it’s an energetic, eclectic combination of punk rock meets pop punk.
The EP begins with the excellent This One’s For Anyone, which has more than a passing resemblance to the great sound of The Ataris at their best. A big bass intro feeds into a mini-guitar solo, then a cry of “1,2,3,4” leads us into a big burst of classic punk rock mashup. There’s big fast drums throughout and I love the punky overtones in Highinbotham’s voice.
Super-catchy lead single Dead Space follows in the same vain, with huge driving drums – including a really cool crescendoing drum roll half-way through – funky riffs and Highinbotham’s engaging vocals are impossible not to sing along to. That’s followed by Movement, which is slightly poppier in style with its Fall Out Boy-esque catchy riffs and singalong vocals.
Fallout ups the pace a little, followed by Fire At Will with its never-ending barrage of intense drums underpinning a fun, singalong punk track – and listen out for a really fun sound effect under Highinbotham’s high notes.
The EP comes to an end with the hugely enjoyable Make Believe, which may just be my favourite track on the EP with some highly impressive high-pitched vocals from Highinbotham, key and speed changes, and its fun, fast-paced chorus.
Describing their music, the band told us: “Usually we are influenced by everyday things that can generally relate to a lot of people, such as breakups, meeting someone of high interest, life’s highs and lows, and so forth.”
If you like punk rock then I think you’re going to like what you hear from Riviera. They’ve taken elements from all manner of punk rock bands we all know and love and given it their own individual twist, and it’s hugely enjoyable. Highinbotham’s vocals are excellent, there’s an absolute feast of punky guitar riffs underpinned by Hartien’s superb, fast-paced driving drums throughout.
Riviera will be on tour across the US throughout 2017, and plan to record their first full-length album later in the year as well.