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Rx Bandits - ...And the Battle Begun (Cover Artwork)

Rx Bandits

Rx Bandits: ...And the Battle Begun...And the Battle Begun (2006)
Sargent House

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: FatTonyFatTony
(others by this writer | submit your own)

In trying to write this review, I kept coming back to the same (lame) analogy: If Progress was equivalent to "Reservoir Dogs," and The Resignation was "Pulp Fiction," then this is Rx Bandits' "Jackie Brown." Keep in mind, this is just my analogy. Some people believe Quentin Tarantino to be the.
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In trying to write this review, I kept coming back to the same (lame) analogy:

If Progress was equivalent to "Reservoir Dogs," and The Resignation was "Pulp Fiction," then this is Rx Bandits' "Jackie Brown."

Keep in mind, this is just my analogy. Some people believe Quentin Tarantino to be the master thief of cinema, but I love "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" is one of the few truly perfect films I've seen. With that, I also love "Jackie Brown," but it's nowhere near the caliber of the other two.

Alright, enough of that.

ā?¦And the Battle Begun is the first album the Bandits have self-released on Matt Embree's own Mash Down Babylon Records. With that in mind, the production and quality of the overall package is pretty good. The album finds the band embracing their live jams and is quite possibly the best representation of their live performance on disc.

So what's the problem?

Quite frankly, the album is unfocused. The band may be incorporating their jams into songs more, but it doesn't make for good songwriting. Many verses meander toward a chorus and back until they reach an end, with an overly long jam thrown in as a bridge or intro. Most of the songs aren't cohesive within themselves, so how are they supposed to make for a complete album?

My other major quarrel is with the mix. Chris Tsagakis is a great drummer, but that's no reason for the drums to overpower everything else on the album, especially the vocals. This is the first Rx Bandits album that I've had no clue what most of the lyrics were even after listening to it numerous times. From looking at the liner notes, it looks like they mostly follow the political themes and love/drugs analogies of past albums.

A slightly smaller problem I have is that there's less ska/reggae on this album, "Apparition" and "A Mouth Full of Hollow Threats" being the only honest efforts. This isn't a huge problem though, as I've long ago accepted that my favorite ska bands will eventually move past the genre.

But I'm being overly negative. This isn't a bad album. Far from it. It's a really solid album. For one, it seems like the band draw influence from recent experiences. Members of the band released a distinctly soul / old R&B-influenced album last year on Asian Man under the Satori moniker, and introducing those same styles on Battle makes for some interesting moments. As well, consistent touring with the Exit must have inspired the band to re-incorporate the definite Police nod of their reggae stylings they've been carrying since 2001's Progress.

In addition, many of the instrumental solos are fantastic. This is a band of great musicians and musicianship. This effort finds the band moving away from the frivolity of odd time signatures and has them writing interesting music around the live sound that they have developed over the years.

I really think that the fanboy inside got the best of me and set my expectations for this album way too high, leading me to be overly critical of the album when it turned out to be not as good as The Resignation. As such, the fanboy had it out with the critic inside of me and they came to an agreement on the album's final score.

I just hope it's not 6 years before we get to hear "Kill Bill."

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Rx Bandits - The ResignationOperation Ivy - Operation IvyNOFX - The DeclineWeezer - PinkertonLess Than Jake - Hello RockviewThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldThe Weakerthans - Reconstruction SiteRx Bandits - ProgressThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Brand New - Deja Entendu

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
coatescd (March 10, 2013)

this is an interesting review, but i simply can't agree with it.

coatescd (March 10, 2013)

Their best album. hands down.

Levendus (August 18, 2010)

I really liked this album, but agree it seems 'unfocused' at times and the drums do take taking presedent over the other elements of the band.

I still listen to this album regularly, it's shits on Mandala.

superskabro (November 30, 2008)

WTF? This album is RXB's finest. Everything prior to this was just building up to this. Such good song writers/composers. They should be bigger than they are...

Anonymous (May 5, 2007)

this is so fucking boring. sad that rx bandits hit their peak 5 years ago. Progress is still one of the best albums i own.

monkey_butler (December 28, 2006)

i think that there are so many positives to take out of an rx bandits record that there is no way people can agree on this album. ...and the battle begun just has so many hooks that you cant help but appreciate how their abilities have developed dramatically from 'those damn bandits'. that element of unpredicability that has been there since the resignation is one of rx bandits biggest draws for me and, while the lack of song structure is overdone just a little, each part of everysong does itself justice on its own. Admittedly, the album does start off weak - im not sure that 'untitled' is necessary- but everysong from then on till the end is solid as anything, noteably 'on a lonely screen' and 'Epoxi-lips'

FatTony (September 11, 2006)

To Ms. Anonymous:

Yeah, that Goldfinger review is easily the most embarrassing thing I've ever written. Though in all fairness, I wrote that over 4 years ago, and my tastes were very different back then. I was also stuck in the mode of a fanboy in that I only listened to good things about an album, and completely ignored its flaws. Luckily, I've moved on from that and was able to give this album the rating I think it truly deserved.

kill_fftl (August 27, 2006)

anybody notice they get less and less ska every single cd they make

Anonymous (August 20, 2006)

To the reviewer:

Can you tell me how Goldfinger "Open Your Eyes" deserves a star higher than this masterpiece? hahahhaa.

Anonymous (August 20, 2006)

Yeah Scruffy there are a lot of time signature changes on this album and it is much more progressive than anything they've done. I would say it's their best album by a LONG shot.

I love how people are saying that Progress is Rx's peak. To me it's their first real album of combining intelligence with ska/reggae. Resignation is the improvement and ...And the Battle Begun is the perfection of their ever evolving style. The Rx Bandits and the Mars Volta will stand as my two favorite genre pushing bands (with the new Mars Volta easily taking the cake with Amputechture pushing as many boundaries as it does. Cant wait to purchase that album.)

If you like your music simpler with less thinking, Progress is for you. If you like to expand your hearing and think a little more pick up And the Battle Begun. Thats how it goes.

i-type-poorly (August 14, 2006)

I love how the lanst handful of comments bash the album for either sounding too much like Progress or not at all like Progress. People don't even know what they want anymore.

Anonymous (August 14, 2006)

"Also, the idea of adding parts with odd time signatures into pop songs is to not make it noticeable because it adds a level of techincality that the common listener doesn't hear but can be appreciated by a musician. Which is why I think this reviewer can't appreciate the album as much as someone like me who understands what they are playing."

Whatever you say, Dr.Music.
Theres a fine line between subtle time changes and lack of focus.
And this is truley a lesson in focus,or the lack there of..

-bryan styles

Anonymous (August 14, 2006)

Progress was the last decent thing this stupid band did. They havent even come close to putting out a record of that quality.

boo rx bandits.

socrates (August 13, 2006)

biggest dissapointment of the year! wtf happened, I hear the same riffs and vocal melodies I heard on "progress" and "resignation", even the guitar sound is really disturbing. c'mon dudes, song structures in small portions would really enhance things here.

Anonymous (August 12, 2006)

The thing about RX Bandits is that Progress was a really accessible album and it is great the first few times but gets boring more quickly than Resignation and The Battle Begun. The most recent two albums are much harder to get into but after the first few listens, it just gets better and better and you start to notice things that you haven't noticed before. * * * * * Stars, I think this album is at least on par with the Resignation.

Anonymous (August 12, 2006)

The thing about RX Bandits is that Progress was a really accessible album and it is great the first few times but gets boring more quickly than Resignation and The Battle Begun. The most recent two albums are much harder to get into but after the first few listens, it just gets better and better and you start to notice things that you haven't noticed before. * * * * * Stars, I think this album is at least on par with the Resignation.

Anonymous (August 10, 2006)

This album is amazing. If you listen to this album as I did, unaware of their 'ska' whatever roots and their past records I was just blown away with a genre defying, indescribable collection of songs that are played by what I now consider to be some of the best musicians I have currently heard or seen.

i became an accidental fan after seeing them play live this summer and shredding my face, I have not taken this cd out of my player since.

this album progress that is referenced is not even close to this album. The resignation album is but much more reggae to me

Anonymous (August 10, 2006)

I can't really understand the different time signatures other than knowing that they are not 4/4 (because, like I mentioned below, I'm no expert in theory) and I damn sure appreciate the music.

Anonymous (August 10, 2006)

Also, the idea of adding parts with odd time signatures into pop songs is to not make it noticeable because it adds a level of techincality that the common listener doesn't hear but can be appreciated by a musician. Which is why I think this reviewer can't appreciate the album as much as someone like me who understands what they are playing.

Scruffy (August 10, 2006)

Rad. Thanks.

Anonymous (August 10, 2006)

I posted the comment about the time signature changes. Yes, I do understand time signatures and know that they are different than tempo changes. I'll give some examples off the top of my head.

The chorus to "To Our Unborn Daughters" is in 7.

The intro to "1980" starts in 4, then a measure of 6/8, then 7, then back to 4.

The breakdown/jam in the middle of "In Her Drawer" is in 7.

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

this record is great. this review is not.

jockmcbored (August 9, 2006)

sod time changes ya bloody anoraks!

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

"I never know whether to trust statements like this when I read them, as so many people think that time changes and time signature changes are when a band gets faster or slower. I don't know how many reviews I've read that mention time changes aplenty, and there aren't any on the CD. Most of the time, the tempo doesn't even change, the band just plays double time."

I'm not music theory expert, so I can't speak for the whole album, but "In Her Drawer" switches from 6/8 (I counted it as 3/4, until someone corrected me) to 4/4 during the two bridges.

Scruffy (August 9, 2006)

And it is with that post that I realize how little of a life I have.

Ah well...

Scruffy (August 9, 2006)

What part of my post was I calling you a liar? Seriously. I said it's happened enough that I can't trust when it's written. I don't own the album. Now that you've pointed out an actual time signature change and the time signatures themselves, I trust you and am excited.
You do realize your post reads, "Oh, so that part in that song that you haven't heard yet isn't a time change?" I wasn't calling you into doubt. I was just saying that I can't tell because so many people use that phrase incorrectly. Settle down.

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

So in the beginning of "one million miles"... the switch between 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures is what?

Scruffy (August 9, 2006)

"If you think that they strayed away from odd time signatures on this album"

I never know whether to trust statements like this when I read them, as so many people think that time changes and time signature changes are when a band gets faster or slower. I don't know how many reviews I've read that mention time changes aplenty, and there aren't any on the CD. Most of the time, the tempo doesn't even change, the band just plays double time.

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

"This cd is fucking amazing, the lyrics make bob dylan look like backstreet boy."

Okay, I'm sorry, but that is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. You compare the bandits lyrics to Dylan!? That is laughable man, ha!

Jim

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

at first i thought "this guy has no clue what he is talking about. " then i realized he writes for punknews.org, and figured it was stating the obvious.

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

Yes, but Jackie Brown featured what could very well be De Niro's only piece of acting in the past 15 years.

Score is for Showtime and Hide & Seek

sickboi (August 9, 2006)

This album is the worst nightmare of someone with ADHD. Shit is all over the place.

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

"This cd is fucking amazing, the lyrics make bob dylan look like backstreet boys..."

'Cept for the part where they borrow the line from "Masters of War."

Back on topic, the album is really good. Unfocused? Less ska? They're moving forward with their music and they've been moving away from the whole reggae/ska sound for quite some time.

Anonymous (August 9, 2006)

This album is by far their best. If you think that they strayed away from odd time signatures on this album, you obviously weren't listening close enough. They're all over the place.

ChokingVictim (August 9, 2006)

Yeah I'm blazed as fuck right now and this shit is awesome.

coldwaffles (August 8, 2006)

"Yeah, we're treating this as a special case since the band did pre-orders so early and because the release date for so many online retailers is today. This album is going to be old news by the time it actually hits stores, even more than X album that leaked X months early"

Well, you could always post a second review on the street date...

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

you applaud Mars Volta for it's bridges and weird ambiance and 10 minutes of eerie voices..but then Rx bandits cans those bridges and makes them fit into 4 minute songs and you trash them? shenanigans....

This cd is fucking amazing, the lyrics make bob dylan look like backstreet boys, the instraments are top notch, it's innovative and soulful... maybe a little disorganized but at least a solid 9.5....is any one with me here?

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

it takes a lot of listens to fully appreciate. at first i'd give it a 7, now, i'll give it a 10

the songs that don't hit you as hard right at first, prove to be the best
EPOXI-LIPS!

vaginalinferno (August 8, 2006)

i'll give the bandtis a solid fucking 10 for this one.

There was definitely far more noticeable growth from Progress to Resignation, but i feel that with Resignation and Battle Begun, they have really come into their sound. Battle Begun is not incohesive as some people have been saying, the songs glide along in the perfect order, keeping a very central theme, and exploring alot of time signatures and new ideas. The mix is fantastic, and the only instances of the drums being louder than the vocals seemed to me to be obviously intentional. after all, they all mixed the shit together.

Ya gotta admire the bandits. Definitely one of the finest bands out there, still making creative, original music.
Plus it's great to smoke to!

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

I've loved Rx since I heard "Teen Idol" on some shitty comp and the only major CD they had was "Halfway..." then i grew up, but still loved Rx Bandits.

Anyways, I thought the resignation had nowhere near as much replay value as Progress (i still dont)...progress rules...but this cd kills the resignation...i don't know what everyone is talking about...the first few songs on this cd especially are fucking kick ass

I do, however, whole-heartedly agree with the guy in saying that Chris's drums are WAAAY too loud in the mix.

JustLikeDelilah (August 8, 2006)

"i killed her"
"what you mean you killed her?"
"i fucking killed her"
"you couldnt have just hit her?"

KlashedKi (August 8, 2006)

Fuck Tarentino.

themikestatic (August 8, 2006)

i honestly never sat and listened to progress, but the resignation won me over, and this cd is equally as good. it doesnt sound like over-played wanna be punk or annoying emo shit.

i love it.

SlowStupidHungry (August 8, 2006)

"but I love "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" is one of the few truly perfect films Iā??ve seen. With that, I also love "Jackie Brown," but itā??s nowhere near the caliber of the other two."

Okay, while RD and PF had film references that were too obscure for most casual fans to appreciate, the blaxpoloitation stuff of JB for some reason irritated people. I think it's just as great as those other two, just for obviously different reasons. Samuel L. Jackson's character in that movie has so many great fucking lines...

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

The music is horrible on my ears.

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

The Resignation was ok, but Progress as a whole was so well put together. The Resignation and this are technically advanced but sloppily assembled.

inagreendase (August 8, 2006)

Ah, ok now I understand everything, hence the 'buy now' button! I'm just not used to albums being reviewed on here before they're actually released, when I get into my new place in two weeks, I'll order this and the new Lucero record!! Thanks for the info!!

Yeah, we're treating this as a special case since the band did pre-orders so early and because the release date for so many online retailers is today. This album is going to be old news by the time it actually hits stores, even more than X album that leaked X months early.

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

Someone needs to review the rancid tour.

Big_Guy (August 8, 2006)

"Am I the only one who thought Progress was boring, and The Resignation was amazing, solid and awesome?"

Yep, i agree.


I like Progress and all, but The Resignation completely destroyed it in every way.

ChokingVictim (August 8, 2006)

This is a good record. It doesn't have the standout, instantly likeable songs like their previous records (especially Halfway Between Here & There), but it is amazing in it's own right. They are excellent musicians.

And I agree with the guy who said this shit is good stoned.

notfeelingcreative (August 8, 2006)

"Notfeelingcreative: It doesn't hit stores till like October. You can buy a copy online."

Ah, ok now I understand everything, hence the 'buy now' button! I'm just not used to albums being reviewed on here before they're actually released, when I get into my new place in two weeks, I'll order this and the new Lucero record!! Thanks for the info!!

Not-To-Regret (August 8, 2006)

I guess it is a step down from the resignation, but as a fanboy I still love this album and as personal score it would be 4 stars. I felt the reisgnation was poppier though. But there are no songs as amazing as falling down the mountain. The saving grace however, is the song "Crushing Destroy" which contains the heaviest sound they've ever
recorded. In my opinion these guys are like the beatles... in the sense that even their worst albums still takes most other bands to school.

Crookedsuperhero (August 8, 2006)

"Am I the only one who thought Progress was boring, and The Resignation was amazing, solid and awesome?"

Yep, i agree.

coldwaffles (August 8, 2006)

Notfeelingcreative: It doesn't hit stores till like October. You can buy a copy online.

sleepwalk (August 8, 2006)

Horns are more prominent on this cd than The Resignation, by far. And there are only a few times where the lyrics are 'muffled' (like the beginning of ...And The Battle Begun, but to me that seems obvious and intentional)--the rest of the time they are mostly easy to understand.

It will require multiple listens to obtain a true love, that's for sure. It sounded good to me at first, but because I've listened to nothing else for the last 3 weeks, it's become excellent. The seemingly 'filler' songs become much better after you've heard them a few times. So yeah, give a chance. A few chances.

Oh, and Epoxi-lips is one of their greatest songs ever. Along with In Her Drawer.

notfeelingcreative (August 8, 2006)

Looks like I'll have to go mailorder on this one, both my local indie store (park ave. cds) and my local corporate electronics store, told me this record hasn't yet been released!!!

Scruffy (August 8, 2006)

Am I the only one who thought Progress was boring, and The Resignation was amazing, solid and awesome?

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

Pretentious? Why is it pretentious? Is it because they are good at what they do? That automatically makes them pretentious? So, let me use that logic on you. What are you good at? Probably beating off... So, does that make you a pretentious masturbator? I think so.

FatTony (August 8, 2006)

I'd just like to mention that I did not write part of that review. I don't know where it came from, but most of that paragraph about Satori was NOT written by me. Still, thanks for posting it in the top slot! =)

i-type-poorly (August 8, 2006)

Just as quality as the last two RxB albums. Oh, and I like Jackie Brown the most as well.

fresnoska (August 8, 2006)

Little too pretentious for my taste. I prefer their first three albums much more than their last two. This is good for playing before I go to sleep....

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

This shit's a ten. No doubt. Easily better than Progress (that cd was waaaaaaaaay too sugar-coated for its own good), and almost as good as The Resignation. It definitely does grow on you.

-opivy

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

If their next album was more Progress-eque I would cream my jeans.

baseball (August 8, 2006)

this album carries 2 different scores for me depending on the situation

if i'm listening in my car or only a few songs at a time it's an 8/10

however if i have time to listen to this in its entirety, after a long day at work or a saturday morning, possibly stoned, this is a 10/10

Progress was great at times, Resignation was great period, but overall i'd consider this their best work

however, i don't think i'd like to see them go any further in this direction on the next album

and naturally the songs i've heard off of this live were excellent

kirbypuckett (August 8, 2006)

Haha. Superdude doesn't get the review.

Haha. Anonymous doesn't get Superdude.

- Kirby

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

to rkl.....

There are more horns on this record then resignation

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

after my third listen i actually started hearing some of the songs in a different light. Some of the songs that i thought were weak at first listen are some of my favorites now on the album. This is mostly due to the fact that there is now alot more happening in one song compared to any song on progress ( which followed a more v/c/v/b/c structure). They definitely got a little more noodley (are they in the same genre as mars volta now?) but there are a lot of good songs on here.
ClicheMyHeart

TheMarc (August 8, 2006)

Only For the Night is one of the best songs I've ever heard.

rkl (August 8, 2006)

i also think that a 7 is much to high for this album, the lyrics kind of suck, and where the fuck are the horns?

pwfanatic (August 8, 2006)

i agree about it being unfocused, but this album more than any of them has me jaw dropped at what they are doing musically, too bad those moments come quite sporadically...often, but sporadically.

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

Haha. Superdude doesn't get the review.

superdude (August 8, 2006)

This is a pretty good review, but....

1. Jackie Brown already has a soundtrack out.

2. I'm more interested in what high school sports movie you would liken it to.

3. Kill Bill is already out. Both of them. on DVD even.

Crookedsuperhero (August 8, 2006)

Wow, didn't expect this to get less than 4.5 stars on this site.

But this review was really fair, maybe even too generous. A mess, at some points unlistenable and a huge step down from the Resignation.

GlassPipeMurder (August 8, 2006)

*shows....i could care less about live shoes

GlassPipeMurder (August 8, 2006)

In my opinion, Rx Bandits are at their best when they're tight and cohesive yet still experimenting (ie. PROGRESS). Everything since then, including their live shoes, have become so abstract, they've lost the musical authority to capture a listener and say, "wow, they know what the fuck they're doing." With the new stuff, it's so hit or miss, it's more like "well, that element happened to work at this particular point in time..."

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

Definitely seems more unfocused than previous efforts...also seems to lack real standout tracks. A solid album, but inferior to both Resignation and Progress.

almostpunkenough (August 8, 2006)

i can't see how one can think this isn't AT LEAST as strong as 'Resignation'. it took a lot of listens for it to click, but once it did it just never stopped growing on me, and i still like every song even more every time i hear them.

there's four songs that i would honestly say are 'perfect' on here, and the rest are damn close. just a stunningly beautiful album in every way.

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

has anyone out of this group ever heard their first album when they were call the phamaceutical bandits....if you can find the album called those darn bandits you will hear the real roots of the bandits...

coldwaffles (August 8, 2006)

Guess I should add onto that last statement...

The Police are my favorite classic rock act.

Anonymous (August 8, 2006)

"I love "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" is one of the few truly perfect films Iā??ve seen. With that, I also love "Jackie Brown," but itā??s nowhere near the caliber of the other two."

I agree with that statement.

I also want to hear this album.

swingline (August 8, 2006)

this is the only rx bandits album i enjoyed from beginning to end. good shit frealz.

coldwaffles (August 8, 2006)

Yeah, so, there was an error. This should be a 5 star, 10/10 review. This guy's opinion is wrong.

You heard me. His opinion is wrong.

johnnydanger (August 8, 2006)

Progress was this band's peak, i will accept no dissent

Bob_Nanna (August 8, 2006)

great review. although it is not a bad album, but compaired to progress of the resignation it just doesnt seem to flow or have a lot of focus.

score is for the review

Mute98 (August 8, 2006)

its your opinion of course but this cd is amazing, so is the resignation

iheartagainstme (August 8, 2006)

this cd has become one of my favorite cds of all time pretty fast. i definetly think it's their best effort.

Inspection12e (August 8, 2006)

I like Jackie Brown best so I should probably check this out.

DenBez (August 8, 2006)

That's essentially the review that I wrote, but a million times better written and organized.

Up top!

telegraphrocks (August 8, 2006)

Maybe it's just me, but I think this album is complete dogshit. Just... terrible.

pdlawry (August 8, 2006)

great album. the last track is really good.

inagreendase (August 8, 2006)

Yeah, pretty much agreed. Nowhere near the quality of the last 2 full-lengths, and a little too experimental even for their own good, but still a real solid album.

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