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Rancid - Let the Dominoes Fall


Let the Dominoes Fall


The media blitz in the past few weeks has been all Green Day. That band’s latest, 21st Century Breakdown, has seen them take their punk band becomes populist rockers shtick to a zenith. They carry the dual burden/blessing of being one of the biggest bands in rock, and the promotional trail has been hot and heavy.

When Green Day was rising in the early 1990s Bay Area punk scene, so too was Rancid. Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen were the fast, heavy, and heavily tattooed and black-booted flip of the punk coin to Billy Joe Armstrong’s snotty, post-pubescent, angst-riddled blast. There’s remains an interesting dynamic between the two bands. On one hand, Green Day made a brass-ring grab to be the big, concept-record-making, arena rock band of their generation. The core three-piece has bloated to a big band including sidemen. Green Day risks overexposure.

Rancid, on the other hand, is still Rancid. The quartet exudes a wonderfully crusty punk aura and retains the power, piss, and bravado of the band that made records like Let’s Go and Out Come the Wolves. Sure, they’ve grown up some: Armstrong has become an indie mogul with his Hellcat imprint, and—what is this?—a Spanish guitar-tinged ballad (“Civilian Ways”) right in the middle of Let the Dominoes Fall?

Loaded with songs, plenty under two minutes, Let the Dominoes Fall has the fire of Rancid at its peak but additionally is the band’s most outspoken, socially critical, and arguably complete record to date. Rancid has never sacrificed its sound to get the message across. In fact, the speed and punch has often been central to what the band was trying to say. It’s still here. There are plenty of folk-derived, straightforward protest songs here—like “Bravest Kids” and the Woodie Guthrie-inspired “Liberty and Freedom”—but Rancid never holds back, playing hard and fast and with the punk passion they have made their stock in trade. “East Bay Night” and “You Want It, You Got It” are blistering beauties. The full-speed-ahead ska bounce of “Up to No Good” includes the legendary Booker T. Jones guesting on organ. The jubilant sing-a-along “Last One to Die” is tempered with razor-sharp guitars, and the infectious title track demands hitting repeat.

While some Bay Area brethren bust their asses to remain gigantic rock stars, Rancid is still simply doing what they’ve always done to great success. The 21st-century Rancid shows no signs of breaking down.

donny kutzbach

Rancid comes to Hamburg at Agri-Center at the Fairgrounds on July 30 with Rise Against, Killswitch Engage, Billy Talent, and more.

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