Leaving tonight for the West Coast, so it seems appropriate to post about one of my favorite West Coast artists. I shouldn't refer to Rancid as a guilty pleasure, because I have no reason to feel guilty about being such a fan. After all, they are sort of a modern day, California tribute to The Clash in many respects. And Rancid's leader, Tim Armstrong, is an unabashed Joe Strummer devotee -- nothing wrong with that. Not to mention that, in this new world of "punk rock" that is far closer to '80s hair bands than the Sex Pistols, Rancid still come correct.
I recently stumbled across Armstrong's new solo album, A Poet's Life, and a pleasant discovery it is. A Poet's Life is essentially a reggae album, but think old school reggae. It has a definite two-tone feel to it, which is not surprising, given Rancid's ska proclivities. (You remember "Time Bomb," right?) I understand that A Poet's Life was originally intended to be an internet giveaway to the fans, but its instant popularity and radio explosion (thanks, KROQ) forced somebody to rethink that plan.
As far as I'm concerned, A Poet's Life is the perfect summer record. While it's rooted in a time gone by, it still sounds thoroughly modern, with a notable hip-hop influence (and out-of-the-headlines references to Mogadishu and Baghdad). Plus, it sports one of the best aspects of Armstrong's writing style, a ready autobiographical nature. Even if his narratives are pure fiction, they always feel stridently real, and grounded in time and place. But the best thing about this collection of tunes is its ability to get you moving. I dare you not to tap a toe to this, at least. Better yet, crank it up and shake it around the room. Come on, its summer!
MP3: Tim Armstrong - "Into Action" from A Poet's Life
MP3: Tim Armstrong - "Translator" from A Poet's Life