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Transplants

A more inspired side project than you might have expected from this motley bunch, Transplants features Tim Armstrong of Rancid, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, and Rob Aston, an Armstrong pal and aspiring rapper.

When Armstrong's gutter-punk-accented, mushmouthed voice appears on Transplants' self-titled 2002 debut, the band manages to sound more soulful than rap-rock. These are the hookiest songs Armstrong has written since the ... And Out Come the Wolves days with Rancid. He's punk rock Marvin Gaye when he sings, and he plays snazzy guitar leads and produces the bluesy piano loops that anchor the single "Diamonds and Guns" and "California Babylon."

But then we have his buddy Aston, who raps throughout the album in a macho, grating, wanna-be-gangster style. Transplants suffer when Aston insists on shouting about gats and ho's. However, there's a not-half-bad rap tune called "D.R.E.A.M.," which bites an overused Method Man refrain from the Wu-Tang Clan song "C.R.E.A.M." Fortunately, the song sports a beat that's as G-funk as anything you'll ever hear from a bunch of tattooed punk rockers.


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