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Rancid: Trouble Maker

Rancid
Trouble Maker
(Epitaph Records)

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In my eighth grade school picture, it’s 1996 (how time flies!), and much to my mother’s chagrin, I’m wearing a Rancid t-shirt for their album Let’s Go, which I had discovered through MTV and fallen in love with. Matt Freeman’s rapid-fire, jangling bass lines and Tim Armstrong’s authoritative bark saw me through my teenage angst and continued to be a stronghold for me well into adulthood. In the 20 years following Let’s Go, they blossomed and branched out into ska and reggae, started a record label, and even worked on some side projects (Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards and Tim Armstrong’s solo album).

To me, Trouble Maker represents a little bit of a return to the Rancid that I grew up hearing. It’s even more memorable because of its many references to their beloved East Bay roots, from Armstrong reminiscing in “Buddy” about taking BART to San Francisco “just to see the view,” to a song about the Reagan-era activism on the aptly named “Telegraph Avenue.” “All American Neighborhood” could have easily been a b-side to one of their early singles, perhaps alongside “Hyena.” The catchy “Molly Make Up Your Mind” brings to mind the British Oi! scene of the 70’s, as does “Say Goodbye to Your Heroes.”

But Armstrong’s not afraid to get sentimental or serious either, as is proven in songs like “Go On Rise Up” and “Farewell Lola Blue,” the latter, a duet between Armstrong and Frederikson that pays tribute to  the surrender of WWII troops in the Philippines and the fall of Corregidor.

Rancid, despite lineup changes and years passing, have stuck around like an old friend who basically looks and sounds the same in a way that feels comforting and familiar. They say it themselves in, “We Arrived Right On Time.” For everything happening in the world today, they certainly did, and it feels timeless and genuine. I like to think of the 14-year old punk kids out there now who will discover this album and find something in it for them.

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About Andy Halo

Andy Halo is a queer trans artist who moved from Brooklyn to the Bay Area in 2015, where he plays bass and keyboards in various jazz, funk, and rock projects including his own electronic music. He works in IT and has two cats named Rico Suave and Frankie Sinatra.
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