On the iTunes page for Run River North, the list of contemporaries includes some familiar names: Of Monsters and Men, the Head and the Heart, the Lumineers, Darlingside.
It might be time to renovate that list.
Run River North is a sextet from Los Angeles that initially called itself Monsters Calling Home. Its first break came after Honda caught wind of the video to the song “Fight to Keep,” which included the band riding around in Hondas, and used the song in a commercial. That led to an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, which led to a deal with the Nettwerk Music Group, which led to the name change.
In 2014, the band released its self-titled debut, produced by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses), which comprised a collection of songs written by frontman Alex Hwang, all rife with folk-revival sounds: gang vocals, foot-stomping rhythms, sing-along choruses and lots of acoustic instruments.
Time on the road changed the band’s dynamics and increased its thirst for a new direction. In 2016, Run River North released “Drinking From a Salt Pond,” which was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Lars Stalfors, who has worked with the Cold War Kids, the Mars Volta, the Colourist and Matt & Kim. This time, the songs were entirely collaborative, and Stalfors navigated the band into heavier, indie-rock terrain. The melodies are still there, but the arrangements are more diverse and adventurous. See the galloping, piano-centric “29” as a prime example of why that iTunes list of contemporaries needs to be refreshed.
Run River North performs Friday, May 5, at the RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., as part of Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest. Valley Hush and Cobi are also on the bill.
Middle of the Map tickets
A variety of ticket options are available for Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest, May 4-6: A three-day pass is $75, a three-day VIP pass is $125. A Thursday pass is $20. Friday and Saturday passes: $35 for general admission, $65 for VIP. Jason Isbell and De La Soul headline Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available now at middleofthemapfest.com.