When first listening to the first release from Lars Frederiksen's Old Firm Casuals, I was ready to trash it for being unoriginal and unnecessary...but upon further consideration, I would have been the one that missed the point of the release.
This release features Old Firm Casuals playing by-the-numbers Oi! and street punk. They tear through four tunes based on fairly standard punk riffs and progression without changing the tempo or even tuning. The lyrics reference how the band is proud to be the band they are, their working class background, and how they will break the noses of people who don't like them (twice!).
But, to be fair, while the topics aren't groundbreaking, and the music doesn't sound new per se when viewed as music for the sake of music, the EP is actually pretty fun and a worthy exercise. Frederiksen retains his skill in crafting a song in the classic two-and-half-a-minute style. The music is catchy and well-executed. The band clearly reveres the music that they are playing, so much so that they sly pay homage to the Clash's iconic "Clash City Rockers".
Now, this type of music has been done before almost 30 years ago, and this release doesn't really add much for consideration. But, while the record is inessential, it's not pointless.
Were Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew to release a record in the style of pre-war folk, I'd call it an interesting experiment. Were Jack Terricloth of World/Inferno to release an album of jazz standards, I'd call it a fun diversion. Were John Joseph of the Cro-Mags to release an album of Bad Brain covers, I'd call it an iconic musician paying respect to his mentors. If these artists get the benefit of the doubt, so should Frederiksen, who was in Rancid, one of the most influential punk bands of the '90s.
Here, Frederiksen seems to be paying dues to the music that inspired and informed him. And while Oi! music can be monotonous, it does have a certain catchiness and reverence for pop music. As Lars and his band tear through these four cuts, they demonstrate how early punk was so effective in both how it utilized the Chuck Berry/Bo Diddly formula, and how it ignored it at appropriate times. Likewise, in playing these straightforward but rocking tunes, Frederiksen highlights how Rancid, love them or hate them, really did know how to write a classic rock song that had both catchiness and substance.
Although this release is likely for fans only, those that are more interested in discovering Frederiksen's roots might also find themselves discovering the roots of punk itself.