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With ‘Trouble Maker,’ Rancid Tells Us Where They’re Going With Hot Album: To The Top of the Charts

Rancid Tackles Important Issues with New Record

By DONNA BALANCIA

Rancid’s new record, Trouble Maker, was inspired by freedom of speech and people using music as a message, and they’re making their point. There aren’t too many who escape the band’s smartly crafted barbs on the new record.

America’s most undervalued punk rock and roll band tackles some tough subjects on their latest release, Trouble Maker. There’s no doubt Rancid is a national treasure, and has risen in importance, bringing the political messages as did our beloved The Clash. Trouble Maker proves Rancid’s hot date with The Big Time has finally arrived.

Rancid has a history of controversy and Trouble Maker is no different. The guys tackle some tough subjects in an upbeat way and continually create an aura of protest. The album starts with the truly fast and ripping “Track Fast.”

Tim Armstrong photo courtesy of Rancid

‘Ghost of a Chance’

It’s followed by the excellent and somewhat familiar sounding “Ghost of a Chance.”  Did Tim Armstrong and The Interrupters play it at Coachella when the Rancid frontman joined them onstage? Memory fails. That’s not the only breakdown as Rancid sings of failed love, society, and also dead great people throughout the new record.

Even the love songs on the record are under the gun, like the song “Buddy,” where even the loving nostalgia is tainted with a dose of pouring rain.

Trouble Maker addresses society’s issues – Photo courtesy Rancid

California Rocker Favorite: ‘Where I’m Going’

“Farewell Lola Blue,” is a great power anthem, a poignant — even for Rancid — tribute to a mystery WW2 dive bomber pilot.  But of course it has the Rancid beat and the guys rip out a powerful tune, one of the most fun songs on the record.

“All American Neighborhood” is about the demise of our country, doctors and pharmacists on the take, and how the shit has really hit the fan here in the U.S.  It’s not the first time Big Pharma has taken a beating, but nobody delivers it quite as quickly and efficiently as Rancid on this great song.

Rancid takes aim at Big Pharma, drug-dealing fake doctors and jerks in general with Trouble Maker

“Bovver Rock and Roll” truly is a great rock and roll song that brings a bit of 1970s power sound to the record. If they did it like that back then, like Rancid does it now, the 70s wouldn’t have died off.

Our favorite is the soon-to-be-megahit “Where I’m Going,” which blends an upbeat ska beat with a pledge that “You don’t understand where I am, or where I been or where I’m goin.'” But the guys are wrong.  With Trouble Maker, Rancid’s goin’ right to the top. Trouble Maker is a winner.

Check it out Trouble Maker for yourself — or better yet, BUY IT — and check out Rancid’s website for tour dates.

Review: Holidays Heat Up As Nick Waterhouse, Sad Girl and Cutty Flam Band Rock The Regent Theater

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots: "The cards don't lie" - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots: “The cards don’t lie” – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Nick Waterhouse is a terrific showman and always puts together a night of interesting acts.  This time in Los Angeles at The Regent Theater during his tour for the new album Never Twice, was no different. Nick headlined and the stylish bands Cutty Flam and Sad Girl opened.

Happy not sad: Misha puts a maniacal twist on some very cool music - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Happy not sad: Misha puts a maniacal twist on some very cool music – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Sad Girl

Despite the name, Sad Girl was not a bunch of girls crying but instead a trio of surf-style musicians who have a lot of fun on stage.  Comprised of facial-contortionist frontman Misha, Dakota on bass and Paul on drums, these guys hold the promise of a warm SoCal day even in the dead of winter.

Misha of Sad Girl has the crowd at The Regent Theater enthralled - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Misha of Sad Girl has the crowd at The Regent Theater enthralled – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Not Sad, Happy

Sad Girl makes us happy. We’re fans of the tunes “Little Queenie,” “The Hand That Did the Deed,” and “Love Storm” in particular. Sad Girl’s music makes us feel like we’re enjoying a double feature of a 1950s western, followed with a romantic but nonsensical surf movie.  Misha’s chiseled features initially lead one to believe there’s a movie star quality about him, but any thoughts of that disappear when you see his puppet-like, maniacal expressions as he plays his fuzzy guitar riffs.

Bang Bangs of Cutty Flam Band is the hottest drummer around, prom dress and all - Photo © Donna Balancia

Bang Bangs of Cutty Flam Band is the hottest drummer around, prom dress and all – Photo © Donna Balancia

Cutty Flam

Cutty Flam a rock and roll-inspired band, impressed on several levels. They’ve got a gal on the skins named Bang Bangs who is extremely accomplished despite the foofy bad prom-date dress. Bang Bangs is worth the price of admission on this night. Cutty Flam bassist Chewy Lewy is stylin’ with his rockin bass lines, cool suit and slicked back hair. Frontman Cutty is a big guy who’s got the moves like Elvis. He really interacts with the audience and the crowd enjoyed the band’s ’50s-style sound.

Cutty Flam rocks the house at The Regent Theater - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Cutty Flam rocks the house at The Regent Theater – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse and His Tarots

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots present their big band sound in a similar vein. “The Cards Don’t Lie” proclaims the banner hung behind the band during the night. This is absolutely true.  Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots are true blue rock and roll. The music is upbeat but some of it, like “The Old Place,” is tinged with remorse over the changes for the worse that modern society brings.

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots pack The Regent Theater in Downtown LA - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots pack The Regent Theater in Downtown LA – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Thinking Man’s Musician

As we have written before, Nick Waterhouse is the thinking man’s musician.  He produces, he writes and he performs his blues-influenced music to an audience that goes absolutely nuts for him. In the Regent Theater‘s bar — which boasts some of the best whiskey in all of Los Angeles — we were treated to some vinyl-spinning that included Waterhouse-prouduced records by The Allah-Las.

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots: Fine musicians - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots: Fine musicians – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Never Twice

The new Nick Waterhouse album, Never Twice, was on the front burner on this particular night, but everyone in the crowded house knows the words to mostly every song Nick plays anyway.  Favorites of the night were the haunting “Stanyan Street,” “It’s Time,” and the kooky “Katchi,” which always gets a smile out of the various bandmembers and audience alike.

nick waterhouse donna balancia california rocker

Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots: SoCal’s finest musicians play the big band blues sound – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

SET LIST:

1. It’s Time, 2. I Had Some, 3. Dead Room, 4. Holly, 5. I Can Only Give, 6. Straight Love, 7. High Tiding, 8. Stanyan Street, 9. Sleeping Pills, 10. Voodoo, 11. Tracy 12. Old Place, 13. L.A. Turnaround, 14. Katchi, 15. Is That Clear? 16. Indian Love Call, 17. Trouble, 18. Say I Wanna Know, 19. Some Place, 20. Game, 21. Time’s All Gone, 22. Pushin Too Hard, 23. Don’t You Forget

Nick Waterhouse fuses jazz blues and rock and roll, he's depicted here performing from his Never Twice album - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse fuses jazz blues and rock and roll, he’s depicted here performing from his Never Twice album – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Good Musical Blends

Nick, who produces all sorts of bands, has good taste. Last time in LA his openers were Pearl Charles and Paul Bergmann, who each brought their own cool style.  Charles has been getting some air time on Los Angeles stations. Nick is going on tour in Japan and returns next year.  Nick Waterhouse and his Tarots are worth checking out “live and in person,” where he and his big band shine.

Nick Waterhouse: Performer, producer and writer - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse: Performer, producer and writer – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

 

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