Run River North face rocky relationships head-on in new album


Let’s face it, most bands’ sophomore albums are inspired from the new people they encounter during the whirlwind moments of touring and trying to break onto the tough music scene—focusing on how they managed the demons from the outside world. However, for the indie rock sextet Run River North, their second album mainly deals not with their external enemies, but instead is rooted in the internal battles and stressed relationships within the band.

The problems addressed in the lyrics lead to a natural revolution to the band’s sound. Still just as good as their original folky feel, Run River North’s second album, “Drinking from a Salt Pond,” has a newfound rock sound that proves this band knows how to turn a difficult situation into something special.

When it was time to begin their sophomore album, lead singer Alex Hwang kicked off the song writing process by coming up with the lyrics. Initially, it wasn’t so easy for the band to hear his emotional songs that pointed towards tensions that had risen between band members.

Guitarist and violinist Daniel Chae opened up about the experience of listening to a song that was directed at him: “It was a flood of emotions.  I remember thinking, ‘This is not cool. This sucks. Why are you saying this to me?’ But the song was so good and so honest, and it cut through so hard that after he finished everyone was just speechless, including myself, and I was like we have to do this. We were receptive to it because it cut through and we could relate to it.”

Relationships within the band are an out-of-the-ordinary theme for most albums, but Run River North used their struggles to their benefit to make “Drinking from a Salt Pond.” Chae even said the album title perfectly reflects this: “[We’re] playing with the image of water and a river. In a salt pond, when you look into it, you know all you really see is a reflection of yourself. A lot of the lyrics have to do with people inside the band.”

Being able to write and perform songs about the highs and lows of their band relationships makes “Drinking from a Salt Pond” intriguing and intense. The lyrics called for a more rock sound, so naturally the band made the shift from acoustic to electric guitars, while still maintaining their harmonies that made their debut album memorable. Tracks like “Pretender,” “Ghost” and “Elam” highlight the band’s magical pairing of gripping lyrics and electric sound.  And even though the songs were originally written about specific people and situations, the album is relatable to anyone who has ever experienced struggling within a relationship: every single one of us.

Chae said, “Anybody in any relationship, if you care a about that person, this stuff is going to happen. You’re going to have to choose to fight or just walk away. And I think the fact that we have the second album is a testimony that it’s worth picking it up.”

Another notable detail of the album is their first track “Intro (Funeral) Parade” and the nine-minute closing song “Winter Winds.” The band hopes that you will listen to the album on loop, and if you do, you will hear the subtle and smooth transition of “Winter Winds” turning into “Intro (Funeral) Parade.”

Run River North will be returning to St. Louis on March 30 at Off Broadway on their first headlining tour. Chae assured that the band will bring the emotional elements of “Drinking from a Salt Pond” to the stage: “[The album] was a snapshot of history, so when we’re on stage we can tap into that…we can tap into a certain goal.” Their show is a rare opportunity to see something great—a talented band that was able to push past their problems to create something worth listening to.

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