When Matthew Embree sings, “She lives without emotion/It makes me better, but only for the night,” on the song, “Only For The Night,” the RX Bandits lead singer couldn’t be speaking any more directly about the way he is. He couldn’t have been speaking more poignantly about the way his band of 16 years is.
Each and every bit of music that these men play is charged with emotion, an energy that comes out of love and concern. It’s the sort of red, smoking hot passion that, if touched would scorch. You’d smell burning flesh, something like a disgusting hog cooking over a bed of charcoal. There are flares aplenty in the ways that Embree and his mates operate. There are all kinds of reasons to be agitated, to feel as if we’re being wronged and hurt. The Seal Beach, California, band began playing almost two decades ago, but turned a dramatic corner in 2001, with the release of “Progress,” an album in which they announced themselves as a significant band, with heady ideas and a sound that wasn’t merely a dabbling in ska and reggae sounds - the kind of trifle that any high school or college-aged pothead with an iconic Bob Marley poster up on their wall as an overseeing mentor - but was serious work of art. It was a record that was rock solid in its focus, its musical ambition and in its emboldened spirit. It felt a little bit like a minor revolution, and maybe it was just a personal revolution - some kind of awakening - but either way, we suddenly started hearing this band for something more than it used to be.
This. All of this.
I want to write like this.