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Devils Brigade - Devils Brigade (Cover Artwork)

Devils Brigade

Devils Brigade: Devils BrigadeDevils Brigade (2010)
Hellcat Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I love Matt Freeman. He'll always be noteworthy in the punk community for Rancid and Operation Ivy. Anyone who knocks his abilities as a bassist can be shut down with a single play of "Maxwell Murder." Appreciating him as a vocalist, however, takes devotion. He's kind of like the punk rock Louis Arm.
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I love Matt Freeman. He'll always be noteworthy in the punk community for Rancid and Operation Ivy. Anyone who knocks his abilities as a bassist can be shut down with a single play of "Maxwell Murder." Appreciating him as a vocalist, however, takes devotion. He's kind of like the punk rock Louis Armstrong--renowned for his instrumental work, but man could his singing curl your toes. That said, I have a fondness for Freeman's lead vocals on Rancid songs like "Black Derby Jacket" and "L.A. River," and I certainly love the belated self-titled debut from his psychobilly side project Devils Brigade.

I first learned about Devils Brigade through "Vampire Girl" on Give 'Em the Boot Volume 3, and it remains the best introduction to the band. Freeman sounds ridiculously gruff and gravelly as always as he sings about dodging a lady with a case of the vampirisms. A more intense re-recorded version appears here, and it's still one of Devils Brigade's best songs. Sadly, the other songs aren't as gleefully macabre, instead focusing on working-class problems and motorcycles, among other things. The music still serves up delicious slices of psychobilly, though.

I called Devils Brigade a side project earlier, but I'm not so sure that's appropriate. Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong plays guitar, and Lars Fredericksen even shows up for a song ("Bridge of Gold"). The only non-Rancidite is D.J. Bonebrake from X, and he previously played with Freeman in Auntie Christ (I'm just gonna float this out there: Auntie Christ is one of the most underrated '90s punk bands. Discuss.). The group certainly offers Freeman a chance to rock the mic, but lyrically it's pretty in keeping with the late-period Rancid of Let the Dominoes Fall, just with fewer references to being from the East Bay or whatever and more instances of roots rock.

Here's where I come into conflict with rating systems. The music critic in me can't give Devils Brigade a perfect score because, well, it's awfully niche. Some of the songs are pretty terrible--"Protest Song" is got-damn cheesy with its celebration of "the working man / the blue collar man / he's a fighting man"; the lyrics are wanting. But I appreciate Freeman's work past and present quite a bit, and I've been spinning his latest album even though I probably could have paid attention to other, better records. Rancid and their offshoots are worth hearing for their misses almost as much as their hits (well, unless Skinhead Rob is involved), and this record sounds like a group of friends having fun. Sure, I wish it was kitschier à la "Vampire Girl," but it's also been a while since the last Tiger Army album. I need this one as is.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Rancid - Let the Dominoes FallJoe Strummer and The Mescaleros - StreetcoreRancid - Rancid (EP)X - Los AngelesRancid - Let's GoThe Specials - The SpecialsJimmy Cliff - RebirthThe Flatliners - CavalcadeThe Leftovers - On the MoveThe Clash - London Calling

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
MyHeroTimArmstrong (September 13, 2010)

Being a huge Rancid fan, so I can not dislike this album. As all their side-project (Transplants LF and the Bastards) this album is ok but not outstanding. I hope they will come touring in Canada.

Stacular (September 10, 2010)

I agree with everything except your distaste for Louis Armstrong's voice.

lushj (September 10, 2010)

I'm really stoked on this album.

Luscious out!

chipsahoycookie (September 9, 2010)

Kind of curious to hear this.

hayman (September 8, 2010)

This is better than I thought it would be but still hasn't got shit on the new Mad Sin album. If this didn't have Matt Freeman in it none of you would give a shit about it I bet.

GlassPipeMurder (September 7, 2010)

kudos for giving this a fair shake. haven't heard it but i liked their G'ETB contribution.

StraightToHell82 (September 7, 2010)

I definitely enjoyed this more than I thought I would.
But, the first 4 of the best songs, awesome songs at that, then the next 8 are just decent.

theemalcontents (September 7, 2010)

bleh matt freeman should go smoke some more ciggies and get some more throat cancer and never open his fuckin mouth ever again cause his voice is the worst fuckin shit ever. plus psychobilly sucks. except tiger army - but they only rule cause nick 13 has the best voice in the world.

Psychobilly sucks? You say that and then you claim except Tiger Army... Did you type that with a straight face? Nick 13 the best voice in the world? Nick 13 is a dick who sings like a whiney emo nooch. The first 2 Tiger ARmy songs are ok but after that its horrible. The Koffin Kats, Mad SIn, Godless Wicked Creeps just to name a few kick Tiger ARmy's ass.

I mean no offense what so ever but saying Tiger Army is the only exception is crazy to me.

savato (September 7, 2010)

I agree, I thought of the acoustic disk a lot when I was listening through this.

Spartakus (September 7, 2010)

I was hoping for a kitschier psychobilly album as well, but this roots-rock rancid sound is still pretty awesome. I feel like if you enjoyed the acoustic Rancid disc last year, then you'd like this one as well.

Also, after reading that some of these songs were intended to be for a musical about the building of the golden gate bridge, they make perfect sense when thought of in that format.

mclz (September 7, 2010)

Love this record!

Michael_Berryman (September 7, 2010)

The Marshes are the most underrrated 90's punk band.

eazyd2 (September 7, 2010)

bleh matt freeman should go smoke some more ciggies and get some more throat cancer and never open his fuckin mouth ever again cause his voice is the worst fuckin shit ever. plus psychobilly sucks. except tiger army - but they only rule cause nick 13 has the best voice in the world.

Adp (September 7, 2010)

It's quite different than other Rancid's stuff but still solid. My favourite songs are Shakedown, Bridge of Gold and Protest Song. I agree that lyrics aren't perfect, anyway matt has made a good job.

misterspike (September 7, 2010)

"Anyone who knocks his abilities as a bassist can be shut down with a single play of ??Maxwell Murder.?"

This.

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