Danny Brunjes first came up on our radar in 2011, with his introspective indie folk project Under Every Green Tree. He garnered a lot of attention from New Times then, went on to perform a few notable gigs, released a stellar debut in Everybody Tells a Story, a nifty Johnny Cash cover, and then the dude seemingly vanished. Where'd he go? Well, besides getting hitched in 2012, it seems the talented West Palm Beach singer-songwriter took a bit of a hiatus from music.
It looks like he's back with a new project, Rivers. Brunjes teams up with two former Under Every Green Tree bandmates, Jon Wagner on drums and Brent Ray on bass, and fills out the new group with newcomer Eric Blythe on guitar and backup vocals.
Brunjes says Rivers is a vastly different concept from the acoustic, twangy leanings of his previous project, calling it, "a lot more mature, brimming with hooky pop songs." It's a big departure for him. "Under Every Green Tree was a bunch of song ideas I had written myself, most of which I recorded, and found some great friends and players to help me out. Rivers is not just about me and some backup players helping me out, it's a full on collaboration between the four of us."
The gifted 26-year-old songwriter and his bandmates spent a good portion of 2013 writing and composing the songs that make up Rivers upcoming eponymous debut EP. For the recording process, he tells us his troupe packed all their gear in a car and traveled to a rented out cabin on Lake Lure, North Carolina -- a sleepy town near the Appalachian Mountains whose claim to fame is as the filming location for movies like Dirty Dancing and the Last of the Mohicans.
As evidenced in the two tracks Brunjes unveiled on Rivers' Bandcamp page -- "She Comes, She Goes" and "Greedy Love" -- the outcome is ace--frolicking, over-modulated rock 'n' roll, in the vein of the Replacements and Guided by Voices. The two tracks effuse controlled recklessness, with introspective underpinnings, and are as rousing and raucous as they are intimate and earnest. Brunjes assures us though that audiences will hear "some South Florida-ness" tucked away in liner notes. "Eric likes to call it 'surfer rock,' I'm not really sure what that means, but he's smarter than me, so I'll take it .
Plans are in the works for an album release party, which will coincide with the band's first ever live performance. A tentative date of July 18, at Lake Worth indie den Propaganda has been penciled in. Can't wait that long though? No sweat. Brunjes will be giving fans a taste of his future endeavor tonight, teaming up with Rivers guitarist Eric Blythe at C&I Studio's Songwriter's Night. The two will be performing acoustic renditions of Rivers' numbers along with covers and other original material.
New Times will keep you posted once all the deets on the album release show have been confirmed. In the meantime, groove out to wistful sunny disposition of "Greedy Love" below.
Rivers tonight at Songwriter's Night, 8 p.m., Friday, May 30, C&I Studios, 541 NW 1st Ave, Fort Lauderdale. Visit Facebook.