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The Chicago quartet Riviera formed in 2000 around vocalist/guitarist Derek Phillips, guitarist/vocalist Mick Radichel, and bassist Matt Usner. From the beginning, the intent was to approach the American folk and rock tradition from a slightly skewed angle, to include in their patchwork of influences threads of the bandmembers' own adventures and life experiences. Phillips' and Radichel's songs drew differently from country, rock, and blues, but usually ended up hitting the listener in that same soft spot between the gut and the brain. Working with a revolving door of drummers and accompanists, the band began to build a following in the city's thriving alt.country scene. By late 2002, the lineup had solidified with the additions of drummer Josh Rogers and keyboardist Josh Boisvert, and Riviera entered the studio to record its debut. The six-song EP Broken Hearted Dreams dropped in August of the following year; it was accompanied by a flurry of live dates.