What is Transplants music? You probably don’t want to ask Transplant Rob Aston, who (I believe) tried to reach through the phone to crush my very soul when I asked him that question during my recent interview with him.
So, it’s hard to define. It of course sounds a little bit like the various bands that its members also play or have played for: Rancid, Operation Ivy, Blink-182, Boxcar Racer. It’s a little like Sublime in its genre-blended and sun-drenched dark vision of SoCal partying and gangsterizing. It’s a little like Gorrillaz in its side-project turned Major Act status.
Not to mention a fresh and strange new musical force.
The opening track, “Not Today,” picks up where Transplants’ self-titled debut left off: it’s a party, but one in which you might want to watch your back, or at least make sure your homies are doing it for you. It’s surf punk maxed out to nihilistic plains under the careful control of musical dynamo and legend Tim Armstrong. Travis Barker, he of Blink and Boxcar and, more recently, MTV’s reality show Meet the Barkers, continues to provide nothing less than stunning drum work, making the bottom end of each track as exciting as possible. Then there’s Rob Aston, who shows more range in his shouty punk/hip hop vocals (if not in his gangsta-rific lyrics) across the album to round out the supergroup hybridized genre-blend of a trio. If that’s not enough, B Real from Cypress Hill stops by to lend a verse.
Quick hit: I like how Tim Armstrong refers to the band self-referentially a few times as “T-plants.”
“Apocalypse Now” opens with beeps and the sounds of what might be a jail cell’s door closing. We then get treated to Tim Armstrong’s wonderfully weird vocal stylings. I’ve heard Armstrong described as the Ray Charles of punk. I think he keeps getting better and better, whether he’s playing for Transplants or Rancid, and so he’s certainly worth the price of admission by himself. The rest of the song is a bit monotonous in its frenetic pleadings.