Matt Freeman and Tim Armstrong team up yet again for yet another musical project. And like both Operation Ivy and Rancid, it’s actually pretty good.
Unlike Operation Ivy and Rancid, however, it’s Freeman’s turn to play front man.
Devil’s Brigade, featuring Freeman on vocals and bass, Armstrong on guitars and former X drummer DJ Bonebrake, formed back in 2000, but have only sparingly released anything. A couple of EP’s and homes on Hellcat Records’ “Give ‘Em The Boot” compilations, have had to hold fans over.
Until now, that is.
The self-titled release, isn’t what one might come to expect from members of Rancid and Operation Ivy, but it’s quite good.
Falling somewhere between “Mommy’s Little Monster” era Social Distortion and The Cramps, “Devil’s Brigade” is certainly a must listen (if not must have) for psychobilly fans. And for fans or Rancid, Freeman and Armstrong haven’t forgotten what has made them so successful. There are plenty of Rancid-esque guitar riffs, they’re just given a rockabilly touch.
While that might seem a bit odd coming from a guy who played in bands like Op Ivy and Rancid, remember that Freeman filled in for Social Distortion just a few years ago.
Too be honest, the sonic difference is kind of refreshing. It’s always kind of a bummer when a side project sounds too similar to the original band the members of the side project came from.
“I’m Movin Through” kick-starts the album, and sets the tone of the album early. Freeman’s gruff vocals take some time getting used to, but aren’t bad by any means.
“My Own Man,” and “Shakedown” the next two tracks on the album, sounds the most like Rancid songs.
“Shakedown,” maybe the standout track on the album, is an ode to Freeman’s career as a punk rocker, with a chorus of “25 years of punk rock and roll.”
Other standout tracks include “Protest Song” which has a sort of “I’m So Bored With The USA” intro to it, “Gentleman of the Road” one of the few slower tracks on the album and also features Armstrong on vocals, and “Bridge of Gold,” a bluegrass track that features both Armstrong and Rancid band mate Lars Fredericksen on vocals.
If you’re a fan of Rancid, then “Devil’s Brigade” is something you might want to check out. But even if you’re not a fan of Rancid, “Devil’s Brigade” is a solid punk album. Freeman shows he can stand on his own two feet alongside Fredericksen and Armstrong’s side/solo projects.
“Devils Brigade” was released on Hellcat Records. Starting in September, the band will be hitting the road with labelmates The Street Dogs. They will be in Santa Ana on 10/8, LA on 10/9 and San Diego on 10/10.