The Riverboat Gamblers

Underneath The Owl

Written by: PP on 10/04/2009 12:34:04

Four albums down, and I still hadn't checked out one of the hottest names in garage/folk punk in recent years, namely The Riverboat Gamblers. The amount of hype their previous three albums have received is pretty close to matching up with Hot Water Music, which really says something about the status these guys are enjoying in the punk scene. This year's "Underneath The Owl" gave me the perfect excuse to do some additional research on these guys, and it turns out people are calling this one their weakest album to date. So if you don't like this record, don't write these guys off just because of that, and go check out some of their older material instead.

For their fourth record, then, The Riverboat Gamblers have slowed down on considerably many songs. You've got "Dissdissdisskisskisskiss", "Catastrophe", "Pilgrims In An Unholy Land" and the final track "Victory Lap" that appear similar to the band's faster, more energetic material. Fans of older Against Me! material should find this stuff appealing, because this is probably how they would've sounded like had they grown up in Texas instead of Gainesville, Florida. The rest of the songs, such as "A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology", are merely medium-paced, and have more in common with country/folk-tinged rock than punk rock. That's not such a big problem though, because they're still rather enjoyable, and have good choruses to back up the instrumentation. "Robots May Break Your Heart", for instance, brings some 70s and 80s rock influence into a mix that's essentially a wonderfully lo-fi singalong fest. "Keep Me From Drinking" has a similar feel-good vibe to it, and despite some shady production choices, it should have people rocking out in a live environment with its whoaah-whooah's.

Although "Underneath The Owl" has it's fair share of 'hits' and 'decent songs', overall the album comes across a little bit bland. Not bad or terrible by any means, but just not interesting enough to last several repeat listens in a row. It's always difficult to point a finger at one specific aspect of the album, but in The Riverboat Gambler's case it has to be the speed, because when the band eventually do pick up the pace, they sound like a frantic The Hives meets Against Me! hybrid. When they are content with just dwelling about in traditional rock 'n' roll territory, the songs aren't nearly as interesting.


Download: Robots May Break Your Heart, Keep Me From Drinking, Victory Lap
For the fans of: Against Me!, Dillinger Four, The Riot Before
Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.03.2009
Volcom Entertainment

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