The Old Firm Casuals
Holger Danske (Pirates Press Records)
The funny thing about Rancid man Lars Frederiksen is that, while he's been in about 200 bands over the past three decades or so, he never strays far from his comfort zone. It's not like he forms a new band to explore a completely fresh form of music, or to stretch his artistic legs. Nope, it's always anthemic, punchy street-punk. This old dog ain't for learning new tricks.
Maybe he sees it differently. Maybe he'd point to the ska elements of a Rancid tune such as “Time Bomb” as a key difference, but he'd be stretching. Maybe he'd point out that …And Out Come the Wolves is one of the biggest-selling punk albums ever, that success was always unlikely to be matched by The Old Firm Casuals' 2014 debut This Means War and this new sophomore effort — that's an argument that holds more water. The Old Firm Casuals are, very deliberately, a nastier, grittier proposition than the slightly polished Rancid. Frederiksen started down that path with his Bastards band, and this is the logical conclusion.
“I always want to earn my stripes,” Frederiksen says on the press release accompanying this album. “I don’t want to piggyback on anybody. Even in my most desperate times, I never took a handout. For me, it was the wrong thing to do to try and piggyback this band onto the back of Rancid. Rancid is its own entity. I always want to try to do things and have them succeed on their own merit. The Old Firm Casuals are a D.I.Y. band. We don’t have a manager. We book our own shows. This is the challenge and the fun of it.”
That's an admirable mindset, though skeptics will justifiably say that it's not really D.I.Y. if your frontman can make a call and end a night of misery in a cold tour bus at any time. Still, though, A for effort. The desire to mentally return to a time when life wasn't so easy, to recapture that anger and energy, is evident throughout.
“I used to think people like George Bush and Ronald Reagan were bad, but now they got this fuckin’ guy?” Frederiksen says on that same press release, in reference to the song “Traitor.” That theme, of working-class, street-level anger runs though the whole album. The title track, as well as “Motherland” and “Get Out of Our Way,” are highlights of an album that gloriously recalls the spit and fury of The Exploited, the U.K. Subs and the like.
The Old Firm Casuals' Holger Danske is out now on all digital platforms.