Riverboat Gamblers, To the Confusion of Our Enemies

Riverboat Gamblers, To the Confusion of Our Enemies

After 2003’s Something to Crow About demonstrated their balls, charm, attitude, and sense of humor, Denton’s Riverboat Gamblers were poised to become one of the country’s best garage-punk bands. Instead, they chose to move to Austin and release To the Confusion of Our Enemies, which does for them what Caution did for Hot Water Music and Relationship of Command did for At the Drive-In — namely, turn them into a squashed-down, cranked-up, spit-polished, and radio-friendly version of their old punk selves, presumably so that they can have a reason to break up a couple of years down the road when they realize they don’t enjoy what they’re doing anymore.

Recording engineers want to make records sound good; that’s their job. Unfortunately, due to convention, they sometimes take “good” to refer to a sound with that maximizes clarity and consistency and minimizes noise, bleed, uncontrolled distortion, and other errors, regardless of whether this is an approach that makes the record fun to listen to. It is a mistake for a band like the Riverboat Gamblers, or almost any garage-rock or punk band, to make a record that sounds this way, because the ugliness of the music is part of what makes it interesting. The whole point of garage rock is to for the musicians to lose control, not to demonstrate it.

On Confusion, the clarity of the recording does succeed in highlighting brash motormouth Mike Weibe, whose blink-and-you-missed them lyrics are unexpectedly contemplative (especially considering the band’s reputation for derangement), but it also highlights the band’s total lack of interesting music. This isn’t a problem when they’re balls to the wall and three sheets to the wind, which they hopefully always will be when they play live. The old fun Gamblers are still there under all the studio polish; you can take the band out of the garage, but you can’t take the garage out of the band. The question is now is how to get the band back into the garage.

(Volcom Entertainment -- 1740 Monrovia Ave., Costa Mesa, CA. 92627; http://www.volcoment.com/; Riverboat Gamblers -- http://www.theriverboatgamblers.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Thursday, October 5th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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