Supergroup Showcase: Expensive Taste

THE PLAYERS: Paul Wall, Skinhead Rob and Travis Barker.
THE STORY: Apparently after Transplants fell apart, Travis and Rob still wanted to work together and then Paul Wall got involved and here you have a mix tape of theirs which you can download here.

You might think that after disliking the Transplants first record so much last week that the last thing I’d want to check out is a mixtap by two thirds of that group. Let it never be said that I’m neither curious nor willing to get burned a second time. Luckily, though, I didn’t. Expensive Taste’s mix tape is fantastic. I don’t really know much about hip hop, especially current hip hop, but I really dug on the beats and the rhymes that these guys puts together which makes me think that the weak link in the Transplants chain had to be Tim Armostrong. That’s okay though, dude still writes, sings and plays awesome punk rock music. Here’s a sample of one of their tracks. NSFW lyrics.

What I dig about the mixtape–aside from the fact that it was free–is that it just feels a lot cleaner and fresher than the Transplants, which is kind of funny considering those were legitimately release records and this is a free mixtape. Everything’s very crisp and the dudes and their guest stars have a tendency to layer the vocals with different singers that sounds really great. I might not know what the hell they’re talking about some of the time (keeping up on slang when you rarely leave your house is pretty difficult).

The real draw here, aside from trying to give these guys another chance, is hearing Paul Wall–a rapper I’m not super familiar with, but have heard his tracks on some other records and a few of his singles–and Barker, who, as I’ve mentioned, is one of my favorite drummers out there. These beats feel more like his, though I still wish they were a little more hard hitting. That could come down to the compression of the music though and not the actual recording because, as many of you may know, MP3s are the worst possible way to listen to music and a lot can be lost in the process. Ah well, I still have most of my music as MP3s. How else am I supposed to fit all this stuff on my iPod? And I will be putting Expensive Taste on there and deleting the Transplants ASAP.

Supergroup Showcase: Transplants

THE PLAYERS: Tim Armstrong on beats and guitar (Rancid), Rob “Skinhead Rob” Aston on vocals (Rancid roadie, Expensive Taste) and Travis Barker on drums (Blink-182, TRVSDJAM, Box Car Racer).
THE STORY: Armstrong discovered an affinity for making hip hop style beats and asked his buddy and roadie Anston to spit some rhymes over them. Then they brought Barker in on drums. In between Rancid and Blink-182 projects the group recorded two records, one self titled (2002) the other called Haunted Cities (2005) with another one supposedly on the way.

I heard about the Transplants around when they were coming together, but I apparently didn’t get the whole story. I remember hearing that Tim Armstrong from Rancid and Travis Barker were starting a band. I assumed it was a band made up of players from other punk bands. Sounded great because I love Rancid and think Barker’s one of the best drummers around. So, when I was looking for a few new supergroups to add to the Showcase, they were high on the list and I picked up their first record.

Unfortunately, the record’s kind of a mess. Armstrong’s beats feel thin even though they’re filled with fuzzed out guitars and you don’t really feel the power of Barker’s excellent drumming on the tracks. Meanwhile, Skinhead Rob’s vocals really don’t do it for me. He’s basically screaming the whole time, which doesn’t do it for me.  Their big single “D.J.D.J.” was okay, though I don’t actually remember it coming out. Most of the rest of the record sounds kind of like a Lonely Island rap with more guitar work. I guess the whole thing was more disappointing than bad as I wanted it to be one thing and it turned out to be something completely different, but still, you should know, it’s not a great record.

All that being said “Diamonds and Guns” is a pretty great track all around, though it’s inclusion in Garnier Fructis commercials kind of castrates it a bit. In the end I wanted a hot punk record and got a lukewarm-at-best hip hop one. Maybe I’ll give it another listen, but more likely, it’ll go on the pile of CDs and DVDs getting traded in at FYE in the near future.