Jul 02, 2009

This is a new release that I felt equally intense emotions of fear and excitement about. Excitement because the Riverboat Gamblers are without a doubt one of my favorite bands of the last decade, and fear because I don’t know if they can match the near perfection of their previous two records. The preview single released by the label, “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology,” was utterly dreadful in a radio friendly manner. Turns out that song is the low point of the album in a Smashmouth-esque kind of way, which is baffling why they chose that song for the fans to have as the first impression off the new album. Underneath the Owl starts on a strong note with guest vocals from Todd C. of URTC/Toys That Kill/F.Y.P./Recess Records for a fun, sloppy little number entitled “Dissdissdisskisskisskiss.” Other standout tracks include “Pilgrims in an UnholyLand,” which starts with a reggae-influenced instrumental before getting to an anthemic punk rock chorus, and “Robots May Break Your Heart,” which successfully shakes things up with vibraphone front and center, played by none other than L.A. punk legend D.J. Bonebrake. The vibe of the new record is closer to the introspective tendencies of 2006’s To the Confusion of Our Enemies more than the all-out rock of 2003’s Something to Crow About, although not quite as successful as the previous two outings. However, there’s still plenty good to not rate this record as a disappointment. I look forward to seeing the new songs given room to breathe in a live environment. Knowing the Riverboat Gamblers, they will tour solid for the next year or two to support the album, so I’ll have ample opportunities. –Jake Shut

 –guest (Volcom)