Underneath the Owl
Underneath the Owl, Riverboat Gamblers’ fifth full length release, should elevate the Austin punk band out of the trenches of mainstream obscurity and into the general public’s scopes… but it probably won’t.
Whether it’s the quintet’s refusal to be pigeon-holed into a genre, their tendency to stay away from high-profile package tours that may bring them a larger audience, or sheer bad luck this band has been trudging along for over a decade — making some of the catchiest rock ‘n’ roll that you’ve never heard. AND they’re one of the greatest live bands you could hope to see. They should be spending their down time kickin’ it in the Caribbean, enjoying the spoils of success, not working day jobs, or juggling band members (of which there have been many).
Their last album, To the Confusion of Our Enemies, will go down as one of the best punk records of the decade (I will continue to sing its praises until the rest of you punk rock fans get hip to this masterpiece), and their new release is an extension of that album’s greatness. Here they dip their dirty feet into garage rock with “Catastrophe” (perhaps this is vocalist Mike Weibe’s other band, High Tension Wires, sneaking into the mix), ska on “Pilgrims in an Unholy Land,” pop heavy punk rock with “A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology,” and ’80s-soaked electronic rock with “Robots May Break Your Heart.” They even slow things way, way down with the shocking and gorgeous ballad, “The Tearjerker.” All the while, the sing-a-long nature of Riverboat Gamblers is apparent.
As on Confusion, producer Mudrock is back behind the helm securing the Gamblers’ frenetic energy down on disc.
Say what you will about 2009 and all of the anticipated albums on the horizon — this is the album I’ve been salivating over, and it has exceeded even my high expectations.
Riverboat Gamblers: www.theriverboatgamblers.com