RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS: Underneath the Owl: CD

I have to admit a shameful thing. The first track on the new Riverboat Gamblers album has guest vocals by Todd Congelliere and I had to look online to see who that was. (He runs Recess Records and sings for Toys That Kill, a favorite band of Razorcake.) So Razorcake, I understand if you want to get rid of me. But first I should probably finish this review. The song that Congelliere sings on “Dissdissdisskisskisskiss” is a quick burst to start the album. There are some good harmonies and it’s over too quick. The next track, “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology” really impressed me with the lyrics being a straightforward description of what it’s like to have an anxiety disorder and the struggle it entails. As the album goes on through the eleven tracks, the lyrics belie the simplistic music that Riverboat Gamblers play. A number of the songs deal with the lyricist’s battles with anxiety, depression and the like which is really impressive considering that most bands that play this kind of generic poppy punk (heavy emphasis on the pop) typically have shallow lyrics about girls or partying. There’s still a little bit of that on here but generally the lyrics are honest descriptions of deeper mental issues going on in the life and mind of the songwriter. There’s definitely good stuff there, now if only their sound wasn’t so generic and lifeless. I’ve heard this way too much to be interested in it or even feign appreciation for that sound.

 –kurt (Volcom)