Transplants

Transplants

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An inspired side project, Transplants features Tim Armstrong of Rancid, Armstrong's buddy Rob Aston rapping, blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, and a host of pals dropping in. They don't really sound much like Rancid, though at times one does hear the Clash in these tunes. A bit more rock & roll than punk rock, Transplants spare listeners any ska tunes. However, there is plenty of hip-hop courtesy of Aston, who raps in a macho and at times grating style with no shortage of borrowed gangsta clichés. In fact, Transplants sound best when he's not shouting about gats and hos. Every time Armstrong's gutter punk-accented, mushmouth voice appears, Transplants sound more soulful than rap-rock. Armstrong hasn't written hook-filled songs like these since And Out Come the Wolves. "Down in Oakland," the one song he wrote without Aston, is among the album's catchiest. Check out Armstrong's slick and reverby surf guitar on this one. Aside from singing like a punk rock Marvin Gaye and playing snazzy guitar leads, Armstrong is also responsible for the blues piano loops that anchor "Diamonds and Guns" and "California Babylon," songs that sound a good deal better than their titles. Perhaps the album's best number is the downbeat "Weigh on My Mind," featuring the throaty, understated background vocals of Brody Armstrong of the Distillers, who sings the chorus "I've got so many problems and they weigh on my mind" with Armstrong. Among the other key contributors is Vic Ruggiero of the Slackers, who lays down some cool piano and organ grooves throughout. And there's a not half-bad rap tune called "D.R.E.A.M.," which bites an overused Method Man refrain from the Wu-Tang Clan song "C.R.E.A.M.," but sports a beat that's as G-funk as punk gets.

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