The Riot Before - Fists Buried in Pockets
Record Label: Say-10
Release Date: September 9, 2008
There are a lot of things to like about End of the Year lists. They are a fast and easy way to discover new bands without bothering to read the egotistical ramblings of your average album reviewer. And, much more frequently, they provide a reason to endlessly whine about how a certain band that released an amazing album went completely unnoticed. With all that said, I really am pleased with the lists so far; I have found a surprising amount of great albums I completely overlooked this year due to them. There’s only one real complaint I have, the omission of The Riot Before’s debut full-length Fists Buried in Pockets in literally every list I’ve read. So much so I actually sat down to write a review for the album, something I had more or less given up on.
The Riot Before are a punk band that sprinkle their music with just the right amount of folk influence to make their music interesting. Probably the first band to pop into someone’s mind with that description is Against Me!, and honestly, that wouldn’t be too far off. Make no mistake, though, they are in no way merely copying their sound. In fact, I think the best way to describe them would be that they inhabit the middle ground between bands such as the aforementioned Against Me! and the much more varied and raw sound of bands such as Fake Problems or Defiance, Ohio. Anyone who actually knows all three of those bands and what they sound like probably are already heading to their Myspace to give them a listen. So, the rest of the review I’ll dedicate to those who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.
The album starts with the slow moving but absolutely stellar title track “Fists Buried In Pockets.” The subtle yet enraged and self-depreciating vocals of Brett Adams are done with a finesse not often seen in punk albums. Though it is not even two minutes long, it is easily one of the most powerful tracks on the album and is an excellent intro as it sets a precedent for the mood for the rest of the album. Afterwards, the album quickly picks up speed until the latter half of the album. Each of the songs manage to have their own identity, which is incredibly important in this day and age of insanely low attention spans. At the same time, I really can’t say any of their songs stand out in any particular way. By which I mean it is hard for me to pick out a singular song and say “go listen to this and you’ll be hooked.” I suspect this is why the album hasn’t found their way into many End of the Year lists.
However, Fists Buried in Pockets is far from perfect. Besides the point that there are no standout tracks on the album, a couple fall short. For one, “I Have My Books” is an absolutely terrible song. It features Brett Adams’ vocals and barely any instrumentation. Without actually hearing the song, that doesn’t sound half bad. The lyrics themselves are actually pretty good; unfortunately, it just flat out does not work. It sounds like something one of my roommates recorded when they were wasted. And, trust me, I know what the sounds like. Besides that, there are a couple of other things which fall flat, like the well-intentioned but juvenile lyrics of “5 to 9.” In the end, they keep this album from being amazing but don’t hurt it enough to be anything more than a speed bump on an otherwise immensely enjoyable ride.
Before what was probably about two months ago, I had never heard of this band or seen their name mentioned anywhere. It was complete luck that I stumbled across their album. The thought that I could have completely missed this album had I not been bored and surfing the internet that day saddens me; so I can only do what I think of as a favor to those who might for some reason read this review. Check out this album. If anything I have said, at all, is intriguing in the least it is worth the few minutes it takes to flip through a few of their songs.