Album review

Transplants : Transplants
Hellcat Records

Transplants : TransplantsAnd so the Blink 182 / Rancid axis gets stronger . . . Renewing a hook-up briefly explored on the Box Car Racer album earlier this year, the Transplants comprise Blink's Travis Barker and Rancid's punker than thou Tim Armstrong, together with unknown vocalist Rob Aston.
    It may still be punk, but the Transplants' foundations are built on Armstrong's Pro Tools doodling, and the resulting sequenced loops mean this is punk with a difference.

Opener Romper Stomper is about as traditional as is gets here; typical shouty hardcore that fans of Agnostic Front or Sick Of In All are more likely to get than the Rancid faithful.
    Tall Cans In The Air is apparently the Transplants party song - "Tall cans in the air, let me see ya, fuck you!" - obviously the kind of parties I never got invited to. Bitter? Possibly . . .
    The infectious piano loop and Brown Sugar "Woo woo!" backing vocals of Diamonds And Guns are where everything falls into place on this CD though. Easily the best thing here, the loop's jaunty melody is at odds with Aston's aggressive vocal. The fact it's so different is why it works.
    AFI's Davey Havok tries to shout over Aston on Quick Death before the slurring overload of Weigh On My Mind. Tim Armstrong shares the chorus with wife and Distillers frontwoman Brody Armstrong (possibly even punker than Tim). Put 'em in room with Joe Strummer and Shane McGowan for some real unintelligibility.
    California Babylon's reggae and beats hybrid has the biggest hook of the disc; "Don't say that you don't understand, don't say that you can't comprehend, don't say that you don't understand, this is California Babylon my man." Trust me when I tell you that this one gets inside your head . . .

Bearing in mind the people involved in this, you wouldn't expect a huge about-turn in style, but the music's distinct enough that in the most part it doesn't sound like any punk or hardcore band I've ever heard, particularly Blink 182.
    It might not be crammed with pivotal moments in punk, but if the task was to try something different then the Transplants debut can only be considered a success.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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