Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards – [Self-Titled]

lars frederiksen and the bastards - selftitled

There’s a lot to love about punk music, one of those things is how often it’s unexpectedly introspective, thought-provoking, or even melodic at times. Lars Frederiksen, Rancid guitarist and producer, began the band as an outlet for songs he had written about his youth and the streets, in just two albums he had said all he meant to and bailed on the Bastards. The album is simple, the lyrics are accessible, the structures aren’t doing any experimenting – but there’s nothing wrong with that when you’re this good at the basics. The Billy Bragg cover To Have and To Have Not really captures the essence of Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards, by turning the volume up on the guitar and adding bass to the original, Lars really emphasizes the chorus “just because you’re better than me doesn’t mean I’m lazy. Just because you’re going forward doesn’t mean I’m going backwards.” Army of Zombies is catchy pop-punk, the chorus “it’s you, it’s me, against an army of zombies” was made for crowds to sing along with, it gets stuck in your head and the outro is crafted well, I’m surprised I haven’t seen (or at least noticed) this in a movie yet. Wine and Roses starts with a guitar riff and jumps right into the chorus, the lyrics themselves are surprisingly insightful: “cocaine epidemic and steel vultures inside a fire that is a cleanin’ super power contenders, no one is daring one super power left, psychotic killer world wide assault yeah it’s a thriller. You don’t want to be the one who’s got to go to jail if you’re lucky IMF will hook you up and you’ll make bail.” Anti-Social is a more personal reflection, Lars sings “hellion what I’ve become, invade your lives with evil and murder,” commenting on the perception of the music scene he’s been a part of for the last thirty or so years, I’m glad he’s unapologetic as well: “I’ll greet you with fire and blasphemy.” Subterranean stays personal, it’s a walk down memory lane for Lars, who stops to think about his friends and dedicate this song to his crew, the Skunx. It’s a second shy of being the longest song on the album, and it’s easy to tell this one was personal to Lars as he’s made songs for and about the Skunx a few times, there’s an almost progressive structure that doesn’t really take off to this song, but it fits the theme of a reminiscence. Vietnam is a powerhouse to close the album on, singing about a vet returned from ‘nam, he offers a perspective that’s been somewhat lost to a generation not only desensitized to war and it’s lingering effects, but almost completely ignorant of it: “nightmares of jungles and M16s, hippies give me shit in my army greens.” By focusing on the man instead of the war or the military, Lars creates a veteran that’s accessible and human, and that’s to say nothing of the music: guitar riffs, a bass line, and quick-paced punk drums balance each other out giving this one pretty solid replay value. There’s a mood to this album that’s hard to explain, it’s the person Lars Frederiksen, he’s present in all these songs and they all feel personal, which is what he set out to do, even the cover art (photo shot by Brody Dalle of the Distillers) is simply a picture of Lars Frederiksen. Let no one call him lazy, this album is destined to live on in future covers by new punk artists, hopefully they do it some justice.

3.5/5

2001 / 34:15

Replay: Yes.

Added to Playlist:
To Have and To Have Not: Rock
Army of Zombies: High Times
Wine and Roses: Rock
Vietnam: Rock

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