Transplants is an appropriate name since the group consists of Rancid guitarist Tim Armstrong and Blink 182/Box Car Racer drummer Travis Barker. But that's not the whole story.
Vocalist Rob 'SR' (Skinhead Rob) Aston, having just landed in L.A., managed to hook up with Armstrong. Not a bad start. Armstrong played some samples, loops, beats and assorted sounds and asked Aston to write some lyrics. Soon they were recording with Armstrong handling all the instruments. But it just didn't connect. So the call went out to Barker who was ready to roll before he hung up the phone. In five hours Barker laid down the drum tracks (all in a day's work) and the "Transplants" hit in late '02. The group returned three years later with "Haunted Cities."
Following the album's release, the Transplants went on hiatus but not without some confusion. In an '06 interview Aston claimed the Transplants had just broken up. Armstrong countered saying he hoped there'd be another Transplants album. "I love recording with those guys," he wrote on MySpace.
In any event, Barker was involved in the reformed Blink-182 while Armstrong was busy touring with Rancid in support of their "Let The Dominoes Fall" album and his solo album "A Poet's Life."
Barker tweeted in '10 that the Transplants were recording again. But Barker's solo album, "Give The Drummer Some," dropped first with contributions from Armstrong and Aston. Finally, in '13, the Transplants third studio album, "In A Warzone" arrived.
2005 Haunted Cities
2013 In A Warzone
Touching techno and feigning Rap-Rock, opening track "Romper Stomper" and "Quick Death" have raging vocals and explosive guitars. But the Transplants self titled debut is far more engaging with "Tall Cans In The Air" which lets the F-word fly but has irresistible guitar hooks. The sparse "Diamonds and Guns" along with the melodic "D.J. D.J." are exceptional Rockers.
On "Haunted Cities" the Transplants continue their use of urban sounds, namely Rap and Hip-Hop, with guests B. Real, Rakaa and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. The first two songs, "Not Today" and "Apocalypse Now," get things moving but that's not where it stays. "Gangsters And Thugs" rides a lazy groove with the lyrics "some of my friends sell records, some of my friends sell drugs." Catchy. "What I Can't Describe" rolls out like a '70s Soul song with Rap. The thing picks up with "Doomsday" but it really needs a swinging horn section to bring it home. Close but no cigar. However the Rap-Rocker "Hit The Fence" does cut it, as does "Crash And Burn."
Transplants don't venture far from their Punk and Rap/Rock roots for "In A War Zone." The killer set is led by the Punk infused "Back To You" and the Rap/Rock "Something's Different."
SR is the key to "In A War Zone." With due respect to Armstrong and Barker, who are brilliant, SR steps out on this set marrying Blink-182 without the snark and Rancid absent the self-referential tendencies.