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Steve Peake

This Week's Forgotten Gem of the '80s - The Reivers (formerly Zeitgeist) - "Cowboys"

By February 3, 2013

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reivers-translate.jpgHaving just received a hand-me-down Android phone from my wife after she decided to spring for an iPhone, I've now regained the capability of listening to various public radio programs at the office without streaming illicitly on the company network. So it's been a fun week of music discovery, but in the case of this week's feature, it was really more of a timely reminder. Courtesy of the consistently rewarding World Cafe and host David Dye, I learned that Austin-based jangle pop band The Reivers has released its first new album in 22 years, titled Second Story. Because my specialty on this site is generally to look back at the music made by '80s artists during the '80s rather than focus on their current exploits, I'll leave a discussion of this particular new music release to others. Nevertheless, it is more than exciting for fans of obscure college rock and early alternative music to see classic bands reforming and putting out music these days (dBs, Shoes and Graham Parker instantly come to mind).

The Reivers, like many indie bands from their era of exploration, experienced myriad headaches as a result of dealings with the record industry. Named Zeitgeist initially, the group yielded reluctantly to pressure from a new age outfit that got to the name first and then settled on an entirely different name - a move that didn't help in terms of recognition at a time when alternative rock remained underground. There are many other reasons why The Reivers fizzled out before the '90s post-Nirvana explosion drastically changed the music landscape, but the music the band made certainly speaks for itself. Almost all the songs on 1985's Translate Slowly merit mention, but for me the plaintive, shimmering "Cowboys" perhaps best captures the group's haunting sound - distinguished by arpeggiated guitars and the lovely vocal interplay between main songwriters Kim Longacre and John Croslin. This particular track reminds me fondly of a similarly little-known, North Carolina-based Americana outfit called Glory Fountain that featured tremendously appealing male-female vocal interaction (Lynn Blakey and John Chumbris in that case). That's yet another digression, but this is music that fans of much better-known alternative acts like R.E.M. or The Replacements should eat up with considerable relish (or chili, salsa and guacamole - whatever grabs you this Super Bowl Sunday). The Reivers' latest release will perhaps cut through some of the group's historical obscurity, but it's always a good idea to go back to the original manifestation of artistry for a pure shot of musical knowledge.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of DB Records

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