Location: Seal Beach, California
Genre: Ska/Punk/Indie Rock
Released: July 22, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: National Uprising – Recent Releases
By: Kris Kotlarik
The Rx Bandits have always been my favorite bands in the ska/punk genre. Particular highlights include “Bled To Be Free” off of Mandala, their cover of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” and the entirety of The Resignation. Towards the later stages of their discography, however, they began to phase out the brass instrumentation, which helped them stand out more in a sea of indie mediocrity. Then, the news came in 2011 that the band was disbanding following a tour that I was unable to attend. I thought I wouldn’t hear from these guys again; after all, Nevermore broke up that same year in the midst of an epic tour across North America, the only bright side being that Symphony X had plenty of time to play “The Odyssey.”
Anyhow, the Rx Bandits (unlike Nevermore) are back together and are touring the country in support of their newest release, Gemini, Her Majesty. Unless my ears deceive me, this album is completely devoid of the brass elements that would generally comprise the ska genre. In essence, what we have here is a stripped-down version of Mandala, which had some great stuff on it but otherwise isn’t all that special.
While there isn’t a “bad” track (other than the bizarre multi-layered vocal intro; it’s not just thrash/death metal bands that make weird intros that contribute nothing to the album’s actual sound), there are only a handful that really stand out. “Ruby Cumulus” is quite dynamic and has a cool, catchy bass line. “Fire To The Ocean” is similar and has some memorable riffs, especially in the beginning and end. The back end of Gemini, starting at the weirdly named “Meow! Meow! Space Tiger” is a little bit more exploratory in its sound and is recommended for most listeners. Also of note is the main riff to “Stargazer,” which sounds like a djent/deathcore riff that is played by somebody who knows how to play tabs other than those written in binary.
While it is not the most stellar album the Rx Bandits have put out, it keeps the generally upbeat vibe that the band has established in their recent work. If uptempo indie rock is your thing, you’ll probably like this. If not, this will probably sound uninteresting to you.
Overall: Not enough standout tracks to make up for the rather uneventful majority of songs.