In 2013 teaching third grade in New Orleans just wasn’t enough to fulfill Three Thousand Rivers front man Noam Hassenfeld. He began writing songs on his guitar at night, making grainy recordings. Before long he decided to move out to Brooklyn, and once there called up a few friends and fellow musicians, Róisín and Hanna who joined in providing violin and additional vocals and together the three formed a folksy trio. Over time as they began to play shows around the city, more members were added, each of whom would help add to Three Thousand Rivers sound and also help to influence one another into pushing their sound as far as they could.
After some time, lineup changes (Róisín and Hanna eventually left the group) the Brooklyn based band is now a five piece consisting of Noam Hassenfeld, Nick Demirjian, Jack Cashion, Warren Loegering, and Joshua Lutz. Three Thousand Rivers is not simply a band of people who play instruments for fun, but a band of musicians whose roots and inspirations reach out further than just folky-funky Americana rock that they play. If listened to closely one can hear the influences of classic jazz, and funk, though also styles of drumming that are influenced by West African as well as Indian and Balinese styled beats. All these influences help to give Three Thousand Rivers a really well rounded world music sound, which sometimes see’s Three Thousand Rivers using three different drummers on the same song.
A perfect place to start with reviewing Three Thousand Rivers first six song EP would be with the apt title, Like a What? The question which the album’s title poses is one that sounds like the second question one would ask after being told what the album sounds like. The reason being is that although one can use specific and oft overused musical terms, those sometimes just don’t do a band’s sound the proper justice.
Like a What? opens with an Eastern European sounding violin riff that runs the length of the track. Though it is the way the violin merges and pairs so perfectly with crunchy drums, grungy guitars, and the horns that makes the track, “Antonito” both rocking and baffling. Three Thousand Rivers changes course on “A Still, Small Voice,” which see’s influences of poppy alt rock.
Later on “Twisted,” Three Thousand Rivers gets it going in a in a whole different direction, with the jazz and funk coming front and center and letting the previous violin driven melodies take a back seat for a moment. “Dig Me Up” continues with the alt country dirge structure that seems to be the bands architectural style of choice when crafting songs, which is not uncommon for a band of musicians who have such diverse musical backgrounds and are playing a style of music that isn’t necessarily a style they are into. This can often result in an imbalance which can be heard on many of the songs on Like a What? which sees the violin sometimes bleeding too heavily into the foreground too often. And although that may be the case for me, I can honestly say that the songs on Like a What? will definitely find a home in a lot of people’s hearts, as the tracks on this slim six song recording are fun, infectious, and easy to get along with.
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