There have always been two sides to Rancid. On one hand, they are one of the most talented punk bands around. Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen are excellent guitar players, Bred Reed is fast and furious on drums, and Matt Freeman is simply one of the most skilled bassists in the genre. Tim is a superior songwriter, able to take multiple genres of music and develop excellent, well thought out punk. Lars has the heart and life experience to give the band's music a passionate-urgency. The other side of Rancid, the part some despise, is that they shamelessly flaunt their influences. Rancid draws heavily from the Clash and aspects of The Exploited, The Ramones, and The Specials. While giving them a firm root in their genre, they never have been particularly original.
"Life Wont Wait," which saw the band delving into rockabilly and dancehall reggae, was not well received by the public who feasted on "‚?¶And Out Come The Wolves." Rancid disappeared from the public consciousness and toured very little after 1998. Since their departure the recent success of pop-punk acts has changed the scene dramatically. Bands are, consciously or not, losing their edges. The well written and truly deserving punk is out of the spotlight. The majors have been pumping money into bands with radio-friendly sounds. Punk is becoming a fashion once again.
Rancid, big enough to be relevant but with little mainstream hype, pisses on this trend. Getting back together with Epitaph head Brett Gurewitz the band has delivered their rawest, tightest album ever. Their influences are still present, but are learned from rather then emulated. There's also now an undeniable Black Flag feel to the recording and music. Most of the songs were recorded in one take. The production complements the music without smoothing the edges or enhancing the voices. The bass is in the forefront, carrying the melody (like a ska band‚?¶ although there is no ska on this release) which is rarely done in hardcore. While not breaking any new ground, in this age of pasteurized, radio friendly pop it seems like it does. The genuine anger and frustration expressed is a band's cry for the plight of their music.
Songs such as "Let Me Go", "Radio Havana", and "Corruption" show that the hardcore influence has not diminished the bands song writing skills. "Axiom" and "Young Al Capone" show off Freeman's extraordinary playing. "Dead Bodies" and "Antennas" are powerful and relevant; the band's social consciousness is also stronger than ever.
I loved this album. Like "Life Won't Wait," this isn't another "‚?¶And Out Come The Wolves." Rancid keeps me as a fan because they haven't rewritten that album over and over.
Let Me Go
- This was released by Hellcat via Europe Europe and was not readily available in North America. This single is a perfect sampler of the band that Rancid has become. The first track is the bouncy and urgent "Let Me Go," sung by Tim. The passionate "Ben Zanotto" follows it: a tribute sung by Lars to a fallen friend. Finally, Matt shouts and growls his way through the rumbling "Dead and Gone." Pick this up if you can find it.