Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 4/12
The Wolf You Feed
Written by: PP on 10/10/2012 22:18:56
Lately we've had much discussion here on Rockfreaks.net on whether bands should change or stay the same, with heated (and valid) arguments defending both viewpoints. Here's one example where a band has changed rather drastically, and certainly not for the better. In the past, Riverboat Gamblers were acclaimed for their frenetic, high-energy 'roll-fueled rowdy punk rock, but for their sixth album "The Wolf You Feed", they've produced a mirror-image of that stance. They are now essentially punk-fueled rock'n'roll instead, where the punk element is in many places nothing but an afterthought as the band spirals further and further into bluesy garage rock, clearly taking their cues from The Hives in the process.
While there's nothing wrong with that on paper, per se, Riverboat Gamblers just aren't very good at writing that howling, creepy blues rock that bands like Rival Sons and The Parlor Mob specialize in. The albums' centerpiece, the nearly six-minute "Gallows Bird" is symptomatic of that perfectly with its chaotic saloon piano passages and dragging pace that does no favors to the song overall. The whiskey-drenched retro rock never really suited Riverboat Gamblers on the other albums either, where they occasionally experimented with such slower songs, which in contrast to the fast paced rockers always felt like the skippable tracks. Later on, "Blue Ghosts" sounds a great deal like Wolfmother again with its blues-driven approach, but at least this time the speed has been quadrupled so the song is automatically several multiples catchier and more enjoyable than "Gallows Bird" or the other slower tracks on the album are.
But they are still effectively garage rock tracks rather than garage punk tracks, which is a weird concept in the first place since Riverboat Gamblers were never a garage punk band in the past. Sure, they incorporated a great deal of rock'n'roll to their sound, but they were always a punk band first, and that's something that's changed here significantly. And why's that not good? Well, the answer's simple. If I wanted to listen to a sub-par The Hives album, I'd go knocking on their door asking for a few abandoned demo tracks that never made their excellent return to form album.
Download: Comedians, Blue Ghosts, Bite My Tongue
For the fans of: The Hives, Royal Republic, Wrong Side Of Vegas
Release date 22.05.2012
Volcom Entertainment / Xtra Mile Recordings