Run River North's Bandcamp page describes them as "a group of young Korean folk living in Los Angeles" who are "deeply into music and our maker." True to that description, the band's music inhabits the contrast between sunny California pop and somber religious themes. "Fight to Keep," the lead single from their upcoming debut album, is propelled by a bouncy acoustic guitar motif, steady drumming and, in the lyrics, a struggle to deny base impulses, as in, "What I've done in darkness, I must turn away / This mended heart was meant for so much more."
The best musical comparison is probably The Lumineers, though RRN's conspicuous violin and male-female lead vocals push them closer to an indie pop sound. But where RRN stands out is in their lyrics, anyway. Songs like "Foxbeard" show interesting turns of phrase, always delivered with sincerity: "She's building up her kingdom of sticks and stones / I hear the words in between they tend to never hold." Indeed, RRN's investment in its own lyrical message is such that the biggest missteps come when the musicians cover other artists' work—their renditions of The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" and The Black Keys' "Only One" both feel oddly detached. Here's hoping that the debut, which drops next month, is all original material.
Run River North opens for Moon Taxi at the Palace Fri., Jan. 24, at 9 PM. Doors at 8. $7.