Feedback: Rx Bandits
June 24th, 2008 by Dan

You may recall a post back in the day where I lauded the amazing Live from Bonnaroo 2007 album by Rx Bandits. It only recently occurred to me in my car this weekend while listening to the aforementioned album just why it is so good and why the Bandits are so good in general.

You see, back when I was reading the Wikipedia page for the Bandits albums The Resignation and …And the Battle Begun I noticed an interesting little tidbit:

“Guitars, bass, drums, and some keyboards on this album were all recorded live. Vocals, horns, percussion and additional keyboard parts were then overdubbed. They only allowed themselves a limited number of takes for each parts. Once a take was recorded, it was left as it was, with no post-thought interference.”

So, more or less, the reason why the Bandits sound so good on their live CD is that the songs sound more or less the exact same way they perform them live. Aside from sharper vocals, I’m not really missing out on a bunch of little details like I am in other live CDs from artists who like to really fill out the sound of their CDs. There is also a sense of energy and chaos in the Bandits CDs that I think stems from the limitations they arbitrarily place on themselves to get their takes done well within the boundaries.

Incidentally, I think this is why so many other live CDs disappointed me in the past. Many artists cannot help but be attracted by the allure of post-processing and its ability to modify their songs beyond what is actually humanly possible by the band. What results is a beautiful track (if the artist is good) that I love listening to, but am ultimately disappointed by when played live. I think that more bands should try to tone down and simplify their sounds to go for this more genuine, authentic sound. I think it can only help.

One last note, I’ve discovered that the Rx Bandits will be showing up in Baltimore on tour on 29 July. Count me there, I can’t wait.

2 Responses  
  • Eric writes:
    June 24th, 20087:01at

    Interesting. When reading about music recently, I’ve learned that some bands just record as is when playing live. Although there’s a lot of energy, sometimes it means you can’t hear certain instruments as well as others and sometimes the vocals get lost in the noise. But you can hear all the details such as the singer running out of breath.

    Then there are bands that add whole parts to the song that weren’t even recorded live. When that’s done badly you can tell because there are parts of the song that suddenly go “recording studio silent” – ie no ambient noise.

    Then, apparently there are groups like the Rx Bandits who do something in the middle. I’ll have to hear that album sometime next week.

  • Dan writes:
    June 24th, 200822:04at

    I think that even if you find you don’t really like them, you’d be hard-pressed to notice more than perhaps slight differences (other than the vocals and small changes when playing live) in the instruments played on the live and studio albums.

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