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Black Mambas

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Album Review

For just two guys, O Pioneers!!! sure do make a hell of a lot of noise. The Houston-based duo — vocalist/guitarist Eric Solomon and drummer/vocalist Jeff Groban — manages to infuse more passion and reckless energy into their debut, Black Mambas, than most bands double their size, and it's obvious that they play their hearts out every time instruments are picked up. Heavily influenced by the anthemic likes of Against Me! and Hot Water Music, O Pioneers!!! bash, crash, and tumble their way through 11 tracks of invigorating post-hardcore that concentrates more on conveying genuine emotion than any worries about whether specific notes are hit or words pronounced. After all, it's all about needing to "play with your heart, scream out your thoughts." Good luck trying to decipher much more than an occasional word or three, as Solomon's gruff bark is basically just a garbled jumble of exclamation points to ride along with the exploding chords and drum set. But if the sporadic gang vocals and handclaps are any indication, the point is still getting across loud and clear. Like Latterman, O Pioneers!!! are all about community, sincerity, and the simple love of playing music with and for friends. They're clearly disillusioned by what passes as punk in the 2000s (see "Autographs Are for Rock Stars and Official Papers"), and the record is chock-full of sentiments like "When it all comes down/To guitars and records, we will know how to go about this/Because it's all about honesty, emotion and trust/Friendship and faith/And I don't think we have anything else to live for." (Thanks lyric sheet.) So sure, the whole thing may seem like it's going to fall apart at any second, the guys passing out from exertion and their equipment splintering off into millions of pieces. But though Black Mambas is kind of a mess, it's a good and fun mess, and one definitely worth jumping into.


Formed: 2004 in Houston, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The crashing post-hardcore of O Pioneers!!! resulted from the team of Eric Solomon (guitar/vocals) and Jeff Groban (drums), whose desperate energy and enthusiasm evidently deserved no less than three exclamation points. The duo's music was reminiscent of early Hot Water Music and Against Me! crossed together, and the band's unpretentious and community-oriented approach resonated with the D.I.Y. punk-folk scene it spawned from. Hailing from Houston, TX, the guys -- one of whom may or may not be the...
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Black Mambas, O Pioneers
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