Saturday, December 9, 2017

River City Rebels Racism, Religion, and War (2000) Review

River City Rebels "Racism, Religion, and War.." (2000) LP Cover
Let’s cycle back 17 years ago to the year 2000. It’s then that a lot of people forget about some great overall punk and ska records. The reason why is because newer metal acts and “nu metal” was starting to get a big push on mainstream rock radio. The same was on KROQ which played a lot of these acts to death, but that’s fine, it happens, as transitions occur in every musical genre. But with the harder stuff coming through, that meant that ska, swing, and the horn section of many bands that were popular in the late 1990s would not get air time. If you wanted ska, you had to seek it out, which is how I came across the band River City Rebels. This band came out of Burlington Vermont. Their record released in 2000 was “Racism, Religion, and War”, and I immediately was drawn to the political message that they had, which was anarchist and anti-establishment. It was like Anti-Flag had some cousins that played ska punk music, and I was all in.

Street Punk With Horns

The record was released on Victory Records in 2000, and they hit the ground running. The line up kept changing after this release, but this first record had some great sing-a-long style lyrical elements and choruses. From the opening horn section on “Hate”, to the punk rock tune of “Religion”, and then to the horns of “The System”, this record started out with some of the strongest politically infused punk and ska from the 2000s. The rest of the record holds up well, with a mix of punk rock that you would find to be in tune with The Clash, Anti-Flag, and others. However, the band had trombone and trumpet throughout the street punk sounds of acts from the past, and of course the present in 2000.

A Take On Political Punk and Ska

Unlike other ska records released around the same time frame, “Racism, Religion, and War” was more akin to punk rock than pure ska. The horn section was a complement of the rocking towns that the band was throwing down, with strong lyrical content about the three topics in the title. However, not without a great sense of rhythm, and of course great guitar, and bass playing. This was very much a street punk record in the vein of Boston’s finest The Dropkick Murphys, and others that came out around the 1990s on Epitaph Records. When you listen to this record, you swear that you’ve seen River City Rebels with other street punk and Boston bands, because their sound is so similar.

From The Streets To Your Stereo

Fans of pure street punk will love what River City Rebels did on “Racism, Religion, and War”. I was impressed from the first song through the rest of the tracks. My favorite tracks range across various options as there are 14 offered here. My personal favorites on this record include, “Hate”, “The System”, “Corporate America”, “We Will Fight”, “Stars N stripes”, and “Religion”. It’s a record that really is meant to be heard live and sung alongside the band’s frenetic sound.

I Give River City Rebels “Racism, Religion, and War” a 4 out of 5.

Surprise, surprise, I give another good review to a record that I love. Well, why not? This is a record that isn’t that long, but has 14 tracks of pure street and ska punk rock. It’s a fist racing record that you will want to sing along with a lot, and it’s well produced, and has a lot going for it. River City Rebels put on a great showcase of punk infused ska music, with a focus on sing-a-long choruses, and more. You’ll love it, if you’re a fan of the genre.

You can buy “Racism, Religion, and War” on various mediums by clicking here, and see why I give this one such high praise, even though it’s 17 years old, and not getting a lot of love these days.

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