Written by: Andrea Janov, CC2K Music Editor
I have been a casual fan of the Riverboat Gamblers for a few years now. Each of their releases was full of great energy and always a good time to listen to, but this EP, Smash/Grab, is heads above everything else. In a nutshell, Smash/Grab is stripped down pure punk rock that is reminiscent of the early days in CBGBs scene. Yet, it is not throw back, but a genuine love for the roots of punk, and a time when punk was new, exciting, and raw. These tracks have all the attitude that any band needs to celebrate the music that changed generations
From the first notes of this EP through the last, it was a refreshing and invigorating experience. It feels honest and unselfconscious, as if Riverboat Gamblers had just happened to leave the tape rolling as they were having a good time. The music, vocals, and energy of the record are so raw that it seeps into your skin and makes you thrash along with the beat.
What I found most interesting about this EP is Riverboat Gamblers were able to change their sound from song to song, yet still maintain a constant and exciting style.
The first track, Anything But You, clocking in at 1 minute 9 seconds seems to start the EP in medias res, the music kicks off and there is no drop for the rest of the track (hell, for the rest of the album). The second track, Maggie Lea, cannot help but evoke Stooges and New York Dolls connections. The music is distorted in the best way possible and Mike Wiebe voice is simultaneously croony and scratchy in a way that I have never heard from him. Parasite Friend, the third track, has a slower tempo than the rest of the tracks, yet never loses the intensity that they had created. And finally track four, The Ol’ Smash and Grab, is the most polished of the album. It has a more metal edge to it than the rest of the tracks, full of killer guitar riffs.
Throughout the Smash/Grab the most prominent element that comes across and connects with the listener is the passion of the band. Though the album was recorded in a studio, I swear that I was able to feel the dark club and the sweat of the crowd as I listened. Most of all, this EP has me anticipating a new album from Riverboat Gamblers.
You can pick up a copy of Smash/Grab on vinyl, disk, or digital download at Paper + Plastick. They are also offering a free download of The Ol’ Smash and Grab (in exchange for a tweet) if you are curious and want to hear the track before you buy it. (I promise that you will want to buy it.)