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RX Bandits - Gemini, Her Majesty Album Cover

RX Bandits - Gemini, Her Majesty

Reviewed by
8.0
RX Bandits - Gemini, Her Majesty
Record Label: Mash Down Babylon Records
Release Date: July 22, 2014
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
After a much publicized hiatus back in 2011, RX Bandits emerged out of nowhere last year to play a few shows to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Resignation. It was a bit of a surprise, and the question remained whether or not they were back for good or if they were just back for the shows. Thankfully, the band answered that question earlier this year when they announced they would be releasing a new record this year. This time around, the band went through PledgeMusic to crowd fund the record, an opportunity many fans were more than happy to contribute to. Nearly six months after the announcement, Gemini, Her Majesty is here before us, proving once again that RX Bandits always have been and always will be a cut above their peers.

It is entirely too easy to get caught up in the excitement of a band being back from a hiatus, and sometimes that excitement leads to giving an album more credit than it really deserves. Don't worry, that is far from the case with this one. Gemini, Her Majesty, RX Bandits' first album since 2009's Mandala, is one of their finest to date, offering up excellent call backs to their roots, like the reggae bounce of "Meow! Meow! Space Tiger." This is far from a regression, however, and they keep a ton of that progressive edge they've grown into. Other moments, like "Wide Open," sound like a mix of something you would find on The Resignation and ...And The Battle Begun, and the chorus even seems to call back to the latter's title track.

Coming in at 11 tracks, Gemini, Her Majesty doesn't contain a single song that you'll want to skip. Everything falls perfectly into place, resulting in a very cohesive effort. There's a decent amount of variation in these songs as well, and the blistering tracks like "Stargazer" and "Fire To The Ocean" contrast nicely with the more lurching, slow burning tracks like "Will You Be My Tomorrow." The closing track, "Future, Buddy," wraps things up with a song that changes its mood a couple of times in the blink of an eye, going from slightly haunted to uplifting and hopeful without flinching. The songwriting from the crew is as tight as ever, and it sounds like they haven't missed a beat in their time away.

As if you couldn't tell from the album art, this could be considered RX Bandits' "spacey" album. It's not totally out there and atmospheric like one might expect, but the production leaves a lot of room for the instruments to breathe. Synthesizers and electronic glitches pop up here and there, like on "Penguin Marlin Brando" where signals are manipulated ever so softly in the background at times, but these little production flourishes go a long way in nailing the vibe they were going for.

The musicianship throughout is another major selling point, and when vocalist/guitarist Matt Embree and guitarist Steve Choi bust out the dizzying riffs, the songs are elevated to a whole new level. Embree's vocals are pretty much the same as they have always been, which is absolutely a great thing since he's always been a phenomenal vocalist. Christopher Tsagakis, as per usual, puts on a clinic behind the drum kit, and bassist Joseph Troy is often the backbone keeping the groove of these songs moving right along. There has always been a lot of talk about the departure of the horn section ever since they left, but Gemini, Her Majesty, makes one of the best cases yet for that not being a big deal at all. These four musicians bring plenty to the table to fill out that space.

RX Bandits easily could've come back for the reunion tour, played a few more shows here and there throughout the years, and then faded away like so many bands that go on hiatus do. Instead, the band buckled down and came up with one of their finest albums to date. Gemini, Her Majesty, is a success in every way. From the performances and songwriting to the production, everything is as good as it has ever been for this band. They've come a long way from the Drive-Thru days, and RX Bandits are living proof that you can break away from the scene you were lumped in with so many years ago and operate in a lane that is completely your own.

8/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 36
09:29 AM on 08/04/14
#2
JGG
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Love this album.
09:56 AM on 08/04/14
#3
AMackChuck
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I could be wrong, but I thought they made it clear that the hiatus was mostly due to the touring grind.
09:59 AM on 08/04/14
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stevieoao
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Higher then 8 for me.. the review doesn't have one ounce of negativity so overall score seems a little low to me?
10:01 AM on 08/04/14
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I could be wrong, but I thought they made it clear that the hiatus was mostly due to the touring grind.
interesting, makes sense
10:01 AM on 08/04/14
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Jake Jenkins
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Higher then 8 for me.. the review doesn't have one ounce of negativity so overall score seems a little low to me?
8 is a very high score
11:04 AM on 08/04/14
#7
theherox
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8 is a very high score
I'm totally fine with your score, even though I totally love this record

Personally, I feel like I've seen a change over time on the scales used on this site. A while back, a lot of great records were getting scores in the low 90's, so I got to a point where I'd only pay attention to albums with a 88% or up. Honestly, I think that was true back in the days when reviewers stuck to giving scores to the separate features and then having an average overall score. Now that most reviewers have just been giving one general overall score, we're seeing more 70%s and 80%s for records that are still quite good...it's just hard to make the mental adjustment. It's nearly cognitive dissonance, as there are sites where I'm totally happy to see a 3.5 or 4 stars out of 5, yet from absolutepunk I still expect to see 88's and 92's
11:08 AM on 08/04/14
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Jake Jenkins
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I'm totally fine with your score, even though I totally love this record

Personally, I feel like I've seen a change over time on the scales used on this site. A while back, a lot of great records were getting scores in the low 90's, so I got to a point where I'd only pay attention to albums with a 88% or up. Honestly, I think that was true back in the days when reviewers stuck to giving scores to the separate features and then having an average overall score. Now that most reviewers have just been giving one general overall score, we're seeing more 70%s and 80%s for records that are still quite good...it's just hard to make the mental adjustment. It's nearly cognitive dissonance, as there are sites where I'm totally happy to see a 3.5 or 4 stars out of 5, yet from absolutepunk I still expect to see 88's and 92's
i know what you mean, scores on this site have always been inflated and it was something i noticed before i was staff. i dont wanna inflate my own scores because of that though, and that's why you're seeing scores from me in the 7-8 range for records i really like, because to me that's still a really high score. my own personal scale doesnt exactly line up with some other staffers. i would prefer a 5 star scale or a letter grade scale honestly. it's all pretty arbitrary though.
11:17 AM on 08/04/14
#9
Your Milkshake
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only heard 2 songs from this so far but they made me feel really ehh in comparison to their other stuff esp the fantastic tracks on Mandala. need to check out the rest
11:20 AM on 08/04/14
jenkins24
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Great review. I think there are a lot of comparisons you can draw from this album to Mandala, but what lifts it above Mandala for me is how each track cohesively fits into the album. Seamless transitions from one song to the next make this a very easy one to listen to front to back, whereas in Mandala, I think a few of the songs kind of took me out of the rhythm of the album a bit.

Also, reading some commentary about the inspiration behind this album is really awesome. It's a small shame that the "farewell tour" I (well, we) saw them on in Chicago wasn't a true farewell, but I'll trade that in for another chance to see them in the future any day.
11:39 AM on 08/04/14
letsgoflyers
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"They've come a long way from the Drive-Thru days, and RX Bandits are living proof that you can break away from the scene you were lumped in with so many years ago and operate in a lane that is completely your own. "

Love that line. Love the album.
11:43 AM on 08/04/14
theherox
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i know what you mean, scores on this site have always been inflated and it was something i noticed before i was staff. i dont wanna inflate my own scores because of that though, and that's why you're seeing scores from me in the 7-8 range for records i really like, because to me that's still a really high score. my own personal scale doesnt exactly line up with some other staffers. i would prefer a 5 star scale or a letter grade scale honestly. it's all pretty arbitrary though.
right. the written review matters the most. But still, when you start adding in factors like Metacritic, the numbers start to matter more. I've always preferred the 5 star scale myself, as well
11:58 AM on 08/04/14
FTank
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What's a good place to start listening to this band?
12:04 PM on 08/04/14
Jake Jenkins
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Great review. I think there are a lot of comparisons you can draw from this album to Mandala, but what lifts it above Mandala for me is how each track cohesively fits into the album. Seamless transitions from one song to the next make this a very easy one to listen to front to back, whereas in Mandala, I think a few of the songs kind of took me out of the rhythm of the album a bit.

Also, reading some commentary about the inspiration behind this album is really awesome. It's a small shame that the "farewell tour" I (well, we) saw them on in Chicago wasn't a true farewell, but I'll trade that in for another chance to see them in the future any day.
yeah, mandala was great but there were definitely a few tracks i could do without. this seemed to go back to the cohesiveness of ATBB (which is my favorite).

and let's be honest, we always knew they'd be back when we took that trip. still worth it.

right. the written review matters the most. But still, when you start adding in factors like Metacritic, the numbers start to matter more. I've always preferred the 5 star scale myself, as well
yeah, that's why i still do the whole score thing (that and the fact that we as a site still do it), because of things like metacritic and i know its nice to have a general idea of how the reviewer felt based on a score. still, its a bit ridiculous when people think an 8 is a low score.
What's a good place to start listening to this band?
progress or the resignation
12:33 PM on 08/04/14
Portugal4142
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What's a good place to start listening to this band?
This record. For me, anyway. I don't love RX Bandits, but i LOVE this record.

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