RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS: Underneath the Owl: CD

I’m not terribly familiar with the Riverboat Gamblers, so I can’t rightly say if this CD is a major departure from their previous recordings or where it stands in comparison to prior albums, etc., but what you do get here is an album of varied songs with big, clean rock production. The first track “Dissdisskisskiss,” featuring the opening verse sung by Todd Congelliere, is a high energy, fist-pumping jam. Dynamic guitars rule with nonsensical lyrics, the kind that you inexplicably tap your toes and bob your head and point your finger to, despite any real sense of coherence to them. “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology” and “Alexandria” sound a lot like a big budget Statues, as if someone gave the Ottowans fifty grand to let loose in the studio and create an album. “Robots May Break Your Heart” features DJ Bonebrake playing vibraphone, which adds a bit of jazzy coolness to the song. I appreciate the line “Binary code breaking, zeros and ones all I see now.” You gotta love someone who sings about binary; a nice touch of nerdiness. “The Tearjerker” is a swinging country ballad, replete with pedal steel. The song is a metaphor that relates a dissolving relationship to a film. “Our friends will say that our film, while ok, wasn’t safe, was too strange, difficult to talk about.” Great lyrics for a novel allegory. The closing track “Victory Lap” is a raging tour diary and a terrific ending to the record. “Swing Ding in Tucson, I sing along, I don’t speak Spanish, but I know the song.” Ain’t that the truth? The only real clunker on the album is “Sleepless” which sounds awfully commercial, primed for ring tone sales and heavy rotation on KROQ and other commercial alternative radio stations across the dial with its heavily affected vocals and big sing-a-long chorus. The kids at the Warped Tour are gonna eat this one up this summer. For those with say, a more mature palette, if you can overlook that bit of entry level punk bait, then you should find the rest of the album an enjoyable experience.

 –Jeff Proctor (Volcom)