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Riverboat Gamblers - Underneath the Owl (Cover Artwork)

Riverboat Gamblers

Riverboat Gamblers: Underneath the OwlUnderneath the Owl (2009)
Volcom Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:


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

I guess it was only a matter of time. After churning out three pretty much flawless albums, the Riverboat Gamblers have let me down a little with Underneath the Owl. Don't get me wrong -- this is still a noble effort, but it just doesn't have what the last two had: speed. The album starts off wit.
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I guess it was only a matter of time. After churning out three pretty much flawless albums, the Riverboat Gamblers have let me down a little with Underneath the Owl. Don't get me wrong -- this is still a noble effort, but it just doesn't have what the last two had: speed.

The album starts off with, hands down, the best track, "Dissdissdisskisskisskiss," featuring vocals from Todd from FYP / Toys That Kill. He does the muted voice thing at the beginning of the song, which sounds better than he has ever sounded. The main appeal to the song is how fast and straightforward the song is. This is seriously their best leadoff track ever. Yes, better than "True Crime" from 2006's To the Confusion of Our Enemies.

The next song, "A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology" may be catchy, but is the first song to suffer the general complaint of the album -- it is too slow. I know not every song has to be a balls-to-the-wall concert sing-along, but that's where ballads like "The Tearjerker" come in (a song similar to 2003's "Lottie Mae", but better). Instead, we get these medium-paced rock songs that leave me looking down at the clock around the two-minute mark wondering how much longer it's gonna last.

There are four fast songs on the album. The previously mentioned "Dissdissdisskisskisskiss," "Catastrophe," "Pilgrims in an Unholy Land" and "Victory Lap." The only other song that doesn't make me want to press the skip button is "Robots May Break Your Heart," which is an aforementioned medium-paced track, but is somewhat experimental since it features a xylophone and actually works because of the "robotic" sound and how different it is.

Something else that the album lacks is substance. Songs about insomnia and reclusiveness don't strike the same chord as songs about the state of charity health care and a punk band actually having a little pride in their state when traveling abroad.

The Riverboat Gamblers are known for their live show and most of these songs just would not go over well in a live setting. With the Gamblers, the energetic songs are the only ones that really matter.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Clash - London CallingThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Operation Ivy - Operation IvyThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseRiverboat Gamblers - To the Confusion of Our EnemiesCobra Skulls - American RubiconThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former Clarity

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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.
Skatepunk36 (May 2, 2009)

I'm pretty disappointed, probably would like it better if I wouldn't knew the previous one, but "Underneath the owl" totally lacks the energie which made TRG so special till now

misterspike (March 30, 2009)

This album, to me, is a home run.

For the sake of argument and continuing yr. baseball analogy. What would constitute a 'Ground Rule Double'?

Loving the new Riverboat the more I play it. Alot.

kevinh (March 30, 2009)

I don't care how much slower the songs are. Speed doesn't necessarily indicate quality, even for a band with the frenetic energy of The Riverboat Gamblers. This album, to me, is a home run.

the_other_scott (March 30, 2009)

haven't picked this up yet. but will. i dug "to the confusion of our enemies" a ton, but i do agree that the true appeal of this band is on stage.

oldpunkerforever (March 30, 2009)

I Love this CD, unlike most on here, yes there may be a few "slower" songs, but dam they have got some hooks that stick in your head like crazy...great, great CD-oldpunker-

misterspike (March 29, 2009)

I anxiously awaited this, having become a convert to the gospel of Riverboat. But I do have to agree that the album was a bit of a letdown. That's not to say it's a bad album ... FAR from it. But when you have Something To Crow About (personal fave) and To The Confusion of Our Enemies in yr. back catalog ... the expectations of fans may be just a little higher.

And I agree with whomever posted below about excited to see how the songs translate live. Riverboat's live show is so frenetic, I'm sure they'll keep everyone worked up and in a sweat.

Fave new song? "Catastrophe". Face-Melting.

hayman (March 29, 2009)

I bought this after hearing good things. Was not a big fan at all. Is the other releases by these guys any better than this?

smyd (March 29, 2009)

"Something else that the album lacks is substance. Songs about insomnia and reclusiveness donā??t strike the same chord as songs about the state of charity health care and a punk band actually having a little pride in their state when traveling abroad. "

That may be one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Not every band is mean to be a politico-punk band, nor should they be judged because they're not. A lot of great punk bands and punk songs are about one's self and the demons they deal with.

3rd grade book report? That guy has it right.. this reads like my book reports on the Boxcar Children books.

brangelina (March 28, 2009)

This review reads like a 3rd grade book report.

mikexdude (March 28, 2009)

Can't be let down when they never picked me up.

patron (March 28, 2009)

I agree with this review entirely. Kind of let down.

MacbethMystery (March 28, 2009)

Sadly, this is their worst release to date. The opening track is really kicking it, but the rest bores the shit out of me, except for "Catastrophe" and the one with the xylophone. Far too slow, just bland rock with no drive and no appeal whatsoever.

As another guy's figured, we need to give them credit for trying something different. That's all, though. I basically hate mid-paced rock because they resemble radio pop-rock far too much, which I can't stand at all.

So, I totally agree with the reviewer; this album didn't do it for me and surely marks a letdown in the Gambler's album biography.

sonicblueheaven (March 28, 2009)

here's the score i meant to post...haha.

sonicblueheaven (March 28, 2009)

rating is for the album...not so much the review.

isnt a band allowed to grow and change? apparently not, if you ask the author of the review.
i applaud the gamblers for doing something DIFFERENT from the last couple albums. and besides, it seems like they've changed on every album leading up to this one...so why bitch about how they've changed on the new one?
my suggestion: if you want fast....buy the vinyl and turn the speed up.

drewxfishy (March 27, 2009)

this rekkid rips shit up

mclz (March 27, 2009)

this is their 4th record not 3rd

ddb43 (March 27, 2009)

I'm really enjoying the majority of this release. I do wish they had a few more fast songs though.

holy_hack_ben (March 27, 2009)

I completely agree with this review. There are a few really good songs but the majority are all medium paced songs that seem to all blend together and drag on. I'll see how they sound live when I see them in a week.

Spooky (March 27, 2009)

This really wasn't my favorite release by this band. Still, the new songs were awesome when I saw them live last saturday.

thatguyfromthatband (March 27, 2009)

"The Riverboat Gamblers are known for their live show and most of these songs just would not go over well in a live setting. "

Dude, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. I look forward to hearing these jams live.

Ravnos (March 27, 2009)

Holy shit, they're actually selling FLAC downloads on their website. Kudos to them, not enough bands do that.

llmp (March 27, 2009)

Have to agree...was pretty disappointed on first listen. Hopefully it gets better after some time.

crackpotdemagogue (March 27, 2009)

i don't know how you can make a judgement regarding how the songs will transcend in a live setting without having heard them in a live setting...? give them a chance at least!on another note, toys that kill fucking rule.

killtaker (March 27, 2009)

I totally disagree with this review. Pilgrims in an Unholy Land, A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology, Alexandria, Robots May Break Your Heart are all great tunes and the rest of the album is good too.

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