Artful and ambitious are words not often used to describe SoCal ska punk. But that’s the best way to describe Rx Bandits, who on their second Drive-Thru disc transcend the constrictive boundaries of the genre better than most of their contemporaries. Fond as the Bandits are of Sublime’s lazy reggae beats and big rock-guitar riffs, they’re also not afraid to dabble in introspective pop punk and spacy dub redemption songs.
And unlike your average skatepunk, singer Matt Embree has more than puppy love and potty humor on his mind. " Analog Boy " is an earnest piece of organ-laced social commentary along the lines of Bad Religion’s " 21st Century Digital Boy " ; " In All Rwanda’s Glory " is an island-flavored plea for human rights. Embree ditches the political in favor of the personal on " Status, " a mellow showcase for his reggae-inspired vocals. The band spice up the disc with a variety of instrumental interludes that delve into ambient, funk, and even sparkly electro-pop (on the otherwise punked-up " Anyone But You " ). They do overreach on occasion, but Rx Bandits are one ska-punk group who deserve to be taken seriously.
(Rx Bandits open for Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish this Saturday, July 14, at Avalon. Call 617-423-NEXT.)
Issue Date: July 12 - 19, 2001