Sometimes it’s fun (for me) to try and make the most absurd, inexplicable connection between an EPK or press release note and some sort of far off (and most of the time, unrelated) pop cultural reference. Most EPKs and press releases provide writers/publications with a frustrating amount of narrative in hopes of diluting any and all write-up pathways to the point of simple regurgitation. That’s lame, and particularly boring (again, for me). But there are instances when someone reaches out with a one-note press release, or, in the case of our friend Austin Sawyer, aka “Drumming Bird,” no press release at all. That is the ideal scenario.
Now, before venturing further, I’ll side step to note that pointing out Drumming Bird reached out through his own accord is not intended to dox him in any way. In fact, it’s meant as a commendation of sorts (basically the Now/It’s Medal of Honor) to applaud his concise request for premiere. Also, knowing Mr. Sawyer, I can only assume he’d find some humor in the vague pop cultural reference I’ve settled on to help highlight his newest single, “Riff Song.”
In his note requesting a premiere, Mr. Sawyer pointed out the fact that the lyrical content of “Riff Song” is fairly inconsequential. To that point, it was also pointed out that the whole song was spawned from “effin around on my pedalboard one day and getting the cool delay sound that drives the song.” That’s an exploratory casualness that harks back to the great Marie Curie and her Nobel Prize winning experimentation with radium. In a sense, Madame Curie was simply “effin around” with the radioactive substance much like Sawyer “effed around” with those saucy little guitar tones. How’s that for a pop culture reference!? For the record, there is a Marie Curie film starring Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) that came out earlier this month, aptly titled Radioactive. It’s an okay movie.
Film criticism aside, there is a refreshing simplicity to “Riff Song” as a whole. The fact the song was in fact born out of some noodling and not much else presents some prescience to the lyrical content, despite Mr. Sawyer’s insistence they don’t matter all that much. Mentions of being a “nice guy,” “jungle gyms,” and “flowers in hair” punctured by the rippy guitar riffs punctuated by a haphazard gang chorus create an almost subversive take on general indie rock accoutrements which have become so tiresome.
If nothing else, “Riff Song” is a restorative installment in an otherwise over saturated indie rock narrative. Consider it a serviceable musical cousin to Father John Misty’s “Real Love Baby” or any They Might Be Giants song - nonchalant and stream of consciousness which leads to more depth and breadth in it’s content than those who strain to adhere to the boring rigidity of indie rock. So despite “Riff Song” being the byproduct of “effing around,” it could help open up the narrative pathways of indie rock much like Marie Curie’s equivalent, Nobel Prize Winning “effin around” with radium would ultimately lead to great breakthroughs in our understanding radioactivity. Sometimes something can in fact come out of nothing.