I've been a Rancid fan for as long as I've been a punk. My first encounter with the band was with 1994's "Let's
Go." After that I got 1993's self-titled Epitaph debut, and then as the new albums came out I'd eventually get those ones
too. So, it should come as no surprise that I would love the new record from Rancid's Lars Frederickson and his side project,
The band consists of a drummer named Scott Abels, who looks like he belongs in one of the 2tone bands from
the late 70's/early 80's sporting a derby hat and braces in the CD insert. Next, we have Big Jay Bastard, a.k.a. Jay Woods,
a street punk-looking skinhead who plays bass for the band. Then, there's The Forgottens Gordy on backup vocals, wearing a
ski mask to hide his identity, and labelled "Unknown Bastard." Lars sings and plays "lead, rhythm and slide guitars."
overall concept of the album is a documentation of Lars' earlier days in Campbell, CA where he ran around with his brothers'
crew, the SKUNX (skins, punks 'n drunks). The story goes that Lars' brother got into punk when Lars when 10, and joined the
crew, founded by a guy from their block called Knucklehead. When Lars was 16, he and his best friend, Ben, joined the SKUNX
and that's around the time he also started playing guitar. Ben later died and this album was meant to be a tribute to him
and all the other SKUNX who'd either died, gotten locked up, or moved on. Tim Armstrong suggested to Lars that he should write
a bunch of songs, using his stories about his days on Sharmon Palms and release an LP. S,o they wrote a bunch of songs together,
recorded 'em with the aforementioned band, as well as 2 cover songs (Motorhead's "Leavin' Here" and "To Have and to Have Not"
by Billy Bragg) and released an album that touches on genres ranging from street to hardcore to rockabilly to straightforward
'77 punk, all the while keeping the same vibe through the whole record.
The opening track, "Dead American" had me hooked
from the beginning, something I like to hear in a record. The first song is supposed to blast you. The second song, "Six Foot
Five," is all about the band's bass player, Jay Woods, who I assume from listening to the song was in the SKUNX. The song
has a rockabilly feel to it, but is still very much a punk song.
Next, we have the band's version of "To Have and to Have
Not" by Billy Bragg. I've never heard the original, so I couldn't give you an honest comparison, but I gotta tell ya, I REALLY
like this song.
"Campbell, CA" is one of my favorites, strictly because the chorus is catchy and it reminds me of how I
felt the entire summer after I graduated high school. "This town belongs to me." Me and my friends sure as hell thought the
"Leavin' Here" is a really good cover of the Motorhead classic, and "Subterranean" is another rockabilly tinged song about
the SKUNX. Gives you some insight into all the fucked up shit that would typically happen to Lars on a daily basis. Probably
my favorite song on the whole album.
Great release. It's nice to see that there's still bands out there
recording good punk rock. I highly recommend this to any Rancid fan, and really any punk rock fan in general. If you do get
it and you're disappointed, well, sorry. I like it.
Reviewed by Sam Sinister.