t first became apparent a few years back, when he was busy ruining Pink and Cypress Hill’s careers, but it’s now time to go public with the truth: Tim Armstrong is the white Pharrell. Don’t believe? Check the facts: two men of definite but limited talents, with punchable faces and an approach to “working” with a talent that involves ignoring whatever it is that people actually enjoy about their charge, and instead steamrollering their own shtick over the product. Plus I bet neither of them are as good skateboarders as they’d like people to believe. And Tim’s even got his own N*E*R*D* in the shape of Transplants, complete with his own personal Chad Hugo (former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker) and The Other Guy (The Other Guy). And whilst Transplants’ self-titled debut can be said to have been the Vans Warped, Oakland In Search Of… (some awesome singles, such as the shampoo-ad tastic “Diamonds and Guns” and the Crazy Town v. 2.0 attack of “DJ DJ,” balanced off by a lot of noodling that nearly distracted you from how great those singles are), Haunted Cities is their own personal Fly Or Die: a big confused mess.
Firstly, it’s enough of a pisser when over-promoted major label artists with hardly enough ability to carry an album on their own fill a third of their long-player with guest spots. For a “punk” band, this is indefensible. Especially so when two of the guest spots are dragging the individual members of Cypress Hill out of the retirement home for two separate tracks, allowing one of Dilated Peoples (don’t pretend you know or care what he’s called) to kick it on some blandness tip to finish the album, and in the album’s “why?” moment, roping in morbidly obese West Coast gang-bangers the Boo Ya Tribe in for some kind of Vans Warped summer jam on “What I Can’t Describe.”
The real problem is that, when they stop it with the hip-hop for one minute, tracks like “Doomsday” and “Gangsters and Thugs” are great little mature mall punk tracks, whilst “American Guns” actually appears to be, for some reason, about the Vietnam War, and contains both some rip-roaring bar room piano playing, and an incorporation of gunshot noises sure to impress ever Billy Danze and Lil Fame.
So that’s all good, and both the 15 year olds of 1994 (who’ve replaced their wallet-chains with mortgages) and their snot-nosed younger brothers will love that. What they, and I, don’t need, is B.Real’s sinus-trouble flow coming in for no real reason except to remind the world “Hey, didn’t you love Kottonmouth Kings’ unique fusion of 90s punk and gangsta rap?” Because, to be honest, no we didn’t.
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2005-07-08