Review Summary: Yet another great live band that's not so great on record
For the ages of these guys they are surely shaking up the punk scene quick. Known for their quirky and sometimes silly stage antics, the Riverboat Gamblers are nothing short of a victory when it comes to pleasing the crowd. Coming into their second major release, Underneath The Owl and a huge tour supporting Rancid and Rise Against, these kids from Texas are climbing the totem pole quick. Their combination of punk rock and alternative rock make for a somewhat enjoyable sophomore album.
When listening to the first track you may find yourself a bit more anticipatory than normal. “Dissdissdisskisskisskiss” has one of the most fun guitar hooks and vocals I have ever heard in an album opener. Just the first track, clocking in at just less than 2 minutes shows the amount of potential for this band in the mass of young punk rock bands of today. The second track however sounds like an attempt to knock off Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys. “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology” has me quite confused coming from the fast paced, traditional punk song that was the first track. Good thing that the album picks up again with the third track, “Catastrophe.” It’s really great to see the variance in their music that makes for a great band, where as if an album was solid punk without a break to breathe. Thanks to Mr. Eric Green, the drumming on this album is satisfactory as well as the guitar playing courtesy of their lead guitar player Fadi el-Assad or simply Freddy Castro.
When I had the pleasure to see these guys live last month only one thought sprung into my head. The first was how these kids got so lucky to tour with two such prestigious bands. After watching them perform my question was answered. They had so much energy up on that stage it was incredible. They didn’t stop jumping around for a moment and you could tell exactly how much fun they were having up there doing what they loved. They show their softer side with their first ballad of the album, “Alexandria.” The next song and my favorite off the album; “Pilgrims In An Unholy Land” is one of the songs they play in their live set. When they were performing their lead singer, Mike Wiebe decided it might be a good idea to walk along the rail that separated the stage from the crowd. Despite his minor problem of almost falling into the pit numerous times he made it over to the other side of the venue and continued to sing through 2 more songs.
Riverboat Gamblers are a young band and therefore they do have a ways to go. Between the 5 members, they possess some pretty good talent at writing lyrics and music to go with it. The rest of the album is pretty mediocre but it is still good enough for the amount of experience they have. The incorporate other styles such as music that sounds like it’s from a jam band or just a garage rock band. It seems that they like to stray from the ordinary and switch things up. During the show I attended the Mike clearly cited one of their influences as Rancid. This really shows up later in the album when you can without a doubt sense their ska influences. Between Rancid and other classic punk bands, they have plenty of musical styles blended into their own approach. Drummer, Eric Green obviously loves to use the hi-hat as well as the rest of the cymbals. His constant use of them really makes a lot of the music repetitive. One other thing that can make the music confusing is the fact that the lead singers voice often tends to sound different. Now as far as I know they only have one vocalist but it just sounds different as if he is trying to sound different. This album is pretty good for their first hack at a major label. They just need to work on their music writing and probably trying to focus their influences and not go all over the place with them. They’re young and have a ways to go. With a little more work and experience they have the potential to be a pretty successful punk rock band. In the future I’d love to see more material such as “Dissdissdisskisskisskiss.”