So, the Riverboat Gamblers, eh? This band seems to be one of the “it” bands of the underground this year after their performance at SXSW. And, with one listen of To the Confusion of Our Enemies, it’s easy to see why, even if you disagree.
The Gamblers are most obviously the kind of band that you’ve got to see live to really enjoy. The CD is good, but all I can think of while listening to it is how much fun it would be live. And that’s the word I’d use to sum up this whole album: fun.
Sonically, it seems to meld the kind of punk that’s championed here at the 'Org (the Lawrence Arms, the Loved Ones, Strike Anywhere, Bouncing Souls) and the kind of rock that garage-rock revivalist bands like the Strokes were trying to play. Also, I must say, they take a lot of influence from David Bowie. If you like Bowie, that’s a good thing, and, if you don’t like him, it’s still a good thing. Seriously. I don’t like Bowie that much, but I find myself really enjoying the places on here where they rip him off.
There are some really interesting moments here musically, like the brief pause towards the end of “True Crime.” And, lyrically, the band is not pulling any punches (see: “The Biz Loves Sluts”). Their sense of humor permeates the disc as well, with song titles like “The Song We Used to Call ‘Wasting Time’” and “The Gamblers Try Their Hand at International Diplomacy.” Also, if you like sing-alongs, you will be rewarded by Confusion.
But there are some things I don’t like here. The songs tend to blend together into one album-length song. Again, this seems to be a hallmark of bands that are described as “live bands,” like Latterman, but if you like the song, it’ll be right up your alley. Myself, I like it okay. There’s nothing spectacular here, save for the promise of how crazy these songs would be live.
“Unicorn Shave Your Horn” is way too weird as well. I’ll admit that it made me laugh, but it’s so ridiculous that much of the intended humor is lost. My dog was sleeping, and she picked her head up and stared at the speakers in confusion. I am not kidding. Take that as you will.
I don’t know what else I can say about this CD. I tried to listen to it all the way through multiple times and ended up starting the review without ever having listened to the whole thing. Now that I’m at the end of the album, I can’t say I feel any different about the album. The songs, individually, are great. As an album, it gets pretty repetitive, and I find myself wanting to listen to something else. But, I do want to make sure to see them live next time they make their way to my town.