Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Transplants Return To The Warzone

The on-off again punk band Transplants from Los Angeles are on again with In A Warzone, an album that took almost three years to put out. Although Tim Armstrong (Rancid), "Skinhead Rob" Aston, and Travis Barker (Blink 182) had written as many as 16 songs for the album by August 2010, they wanted their choice of 30 tracks.

Once the album was finished and remixed several times, other projects took precedence as the release date was pushed back. The band wanted to get it right and put it out on the right label. Many people were surprised to hear it wouldn't be released by Hellcats as originally planned, except Epitaph.

"When we started this band 13 years ago, we weren’t worried about who was going to like us,” said frontman Rob Aston. “We still aren’t. In A Warzone is more raw and stripped down than our previous releases. In my opinion, it’s our best album."

In A Warzone is unapologetically hard, with a few wildly diverse breaks in between the band's tight two-minute basics. Some of those breaks, like always, are just unexpected enough that they stand out all the more. One of them, Come Around, takes on the unlikely textural quality of a Western surf song.

Transplants quickly followed up the format with a straight-up rap track, Something's Different, with a blues-rock arrangement. It's A Problem represents their biggest exploration into hip hop, with a nod to Latin surf rock. And Back To You has clipped punk vocals but cast with a tavern rock swagger.

All four illustrate why some reviewers have had a hard time categorizing the band within a single genre. But then again, that might be what makes the Transplants so easy to define. As Aston once said: The Transplants are a punk band because they play whatever type of music they want.

The balance of In A Warzone is purely punk, played hard. 

The rest of the album is as hard if not harder than anything they have laid down before, starting with the title track. In A Warzone blasts off with a viciously straightforward punk sound. The track muscles its way through at breakneck speed, finishing itself off in just over two minutes.

Many of the others play the same too. They're best described as well-thought out punk songs, ranging from purist punk tracks like See It To Believe It to darker calls for advocacy like Gravestones And Burial Plots. All of them have a fair amount of urgency and aggression, except Any Of Them, the sloppiest track on the album.

A couple extra graphs about the Transplants for first timers. 

The Transplants came together shortly after Aston had moved to Los Angeles in 1999. He hooked up with Armstrong, who played a beat he had made with his Pro Tools Systems in home studio. Armstrong asked Aston if he could write lyrics to match.

"I said yes," Aston said. "Honestly, I was scared shitless because I had never been in a band before."

They songs quickly came together, but they both agreed something was missing. So they called Barker and pitched him the idea behind the band. He was on board before he ever heard the songs. After he arrived at the studio, he laid down all the drum tracks in less than five hours. And that was that.

In A Warzone By Transplants Rips 9.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While some people might be taken aback by the occasional diversity or be disappointed that there are more punk rap pairings like their last album, In A Warzone is everything you want from a hard punk album along with a few surprises that will make other genre artists grateful the Transplants are are punk band.

In a Warzone is available from Amazon. The album can also be ordered from Barnes & Noble or downloaded from iTunes. For upcoming tour information, find them on Facebook. Kevin Bivona has been playing bass for a couple of years now.
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