Riverboat Gamblers: To the Confusion of Our Enemies

Cathy Arnold

Texan five-piece Riverboat Gamblers revives frenzied guitars, high-octane vocals and broken teeth in their latest offering.

Riverboat Gamblers

To the Confusion of Our Enemies

Label: Volcom
US Release Date: 2006-04-25
UK Release Date: Available as import

Riverboat Gamblers approach their newest album with fists raised; these boys are angry, cynical and primed for the fight. From the first track to the last, To the Confusion of Our Enemies is a whirlwind of gritty vocals, frenetic guitars and crashing percussion. The songs grab you around the throat and then proceed to relentlessly kick you in the teeth, without apology. It's short, fast and loud, ultimately resulting in a brash and rich punk-rock album, successfully capturing everyone's favorite elements of the genre -- guitars, bad language and bar fight-inducing, fist-pumping anthemic beats.

The first track bursts out of the speakers, with a fantastic raw energy that punk has really been missing lately. Riverboat Gamblers is leading a one-band campaign against the rise of rock and roll boy bands, demonstrated clearly through the track “The Biz Loves Sluts”. “Marketing shows we might have to change your look / and I agree with them / we think your songs might need a better hook,” sings frontman Mike Wiebe, sarcastic and cynical as hell, proving that Riverboat Gamblers aren't about image; they're about the music, man. The vocals are raw and blistering, dragging you deeper into the convulsive experience that is To the Confusion of Our Enemies. Riverboat Gamblers makes you want to jump around your room, and possibly engage in some embarrassing air guitar. The music creates an overwhelming longing for the days when punk rock was fueled by testosterone and anger, instead of eyeliner and songs about our parents not understanding us. It reminds us of just how fantastic it was when punk rock was purer (or maybe that's meant to be dirtier?).

This Texas five piece have their foundations in cynicism, originally singing songs about drinking and gambling, in a direct attempt to provide contrast to the emo-punk takeover. Crashing onto the scene at the 2003 South by Southwest festival, they quickly drew attention to themselves, gaining both a reputation and a recording contract. The band has been praised extensively by music media, and are soon to be embarking on a national US tour. Riverboat Gamblers have big mouths and a big sound, and will soon be causing big waves on the international rock scene. They are sure to make an unforgettable impact on the punk-rock music world, due in no small part to their notoriety for wreaking havoc wherever they go, including inducing several trips to the emergency room for broken teeth and shattered bones at live shows.

To the Confusion of Our Enemies is a spectacularly frenetic collection of fast-paced beats and clever lyrics, and the overall result is a noisy and quick-witted album, bursting with biting humor powerful hooks. The album's highlights include the well known “Don't Bury Me... I'm Not Dead”, which has been on high rotation on radio stations the world over. Also standing out on is “The Art of Getting F#@%ked”, a short but thunderous number whose lyrics mainly consist of the Gamblers screaming the letters to their name -- it's a red-hot shout-along.

The album's best quality is its consistency. It throws itself at you from the onset of the opening number, and it never slows down. Even in the somewhat sentimental ultimate track “Black Nothing of a Cat”, the same sense of boyish energy is maintained. Riverboat Gamblers don't lose momentum for one second, and the result will leave you buzzing. They are a combination of frenetic energy, clever and catchy hooks, and a whole lot of talent. You can't walk away from To The Confusion of our Enemies without being affected by this high-octane, infectious sonic assault. Give it a spin. I dare you.


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