Six months after Monsters Calling Home, Vol 1, Run River North released the second volume of the same name. Some of these songs were performed during the band’s Audiotree performance so they weren’t entirely new, but Vol 2 definitely feels like a band that’s rediscovered themselves. And found out how to have fun again.
Vol 1 felt like a transition and Vol 2 is the conpleted transformation. The trio have really moved into a comfortable space with their current sound. “Wake Up” could easily sit on older albums, but it feels fresh. That might be because it is lighter and less weighed down by instrumentation. It also feels a lot more honest. The vocals spend a lot of time guiding the movement of the song, but the instrumental give the song its life.
“I’m Amazing” sounds like a giant fuck you to the past. With this track, the band is now going to do whatever it wants, live however it wants, and exist in its music space comfortably. Regardless of what happened with old members, this iteration of Run River North makes itself known on “I’m Amazing.” “Wake Up” might have been a greeting to old Run River North fans and “I’m Amazing” is a big hug to everyone listening now.
I kind of wish I didn’t hear the Audiotree performance because hearing Vol 2 makes so much more sense. Vol 1 and Vol 2 create a very specific audio journey. Vol 2 especially is more experimental and moving towards something evolved. I always thought they were technically proficient, but “OKAY COOL” gets in your face and makes itself known. Sally Kang has the first round of vocals with Alex Hwang coming in later. I continue to enjoy hearing these dual voices work together more.
“Monsters” is a funk rock track that lives in multiple grooves. It’s actually a pretty heavily layered song with a lot of instruments, samples, and vocals. But someone it doesn’t get weighed down by how much is going on. It actually makes me think that this is the song the band would start a show with. Simply walk up on stage and start playing without any introduction to create the atmosphere.
Closing Vol 2 is “Let Me Down” and the final call back to Drinking from a Salt Pond. It has the vocal style that lived on the second full length and kind of Run River North’s signature. I like how the trio brought in the new elements of composition while keeping some of the signatures that made me like the band so much. “Let Me Down” is the perfect closer to Vol 2, there not much to else to say except listen to it.
Both Vol 1 and Vol 2 are very deliberate releases. With the space in between, fans might have been expecting a specific direction, but Run River North have fully moved into this new chapter. As they, hopefully, work towards new music, the lack of audio borders means the band could go anywhere. This is an introduction to Run River North and a book end of band history.