Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards Viking

Just when punk rock was beginning to get boring and stale, Lars Frederiksen and his merry band of Bastards release Viking and validate my belief that punk rock can still be potent with something other than the aroma of fart and dick jokes. In keeping with Rancid’s last record, Viking shows Frederiksen still loving life — a fact put into sharp relief by tear-jerking liner notes about the death of Lars’s older brother Rob. When placed in that context, every track is a tribute to the life and times of Rob Frederiksen; Lars deliberately laces the tunes with nostalgic chord changes and lyrics that veer from his brother’s experiences to the cathartic realisation of the impact Lars’s brother has had upon his life. Thankfully, unlike records that tread similar thematic ground, Viking is a celebration rather than a dirge. Stripped of any ska overtones, Viking is an excellent example of what Rancid would sound like if Tim Armstrong wasn’t at the helm. While Armstrong co-wrote the lion’s share of the songs on Viking, he doesn’t turn the Bastards into another Rancid. Armstrong has the good common sense to not put his stamp all over the recordings and lets Lars keep his boot boy punk to himself. The guitars and drums drive songs like "1%” and "Little Rude Girl” and only occasionally break for some Celtic and retro flavour ("My Life To Live” and "Marie Marie” respectively). The thing that has always given the projects that the boys in Rancid work on any authenticity or authority in punk rock is the fact that they’ve never left the streets and never settled into the comfortable confines of stardom. While other bands find joy in dollar signs (the Transplants comes dangerously close), Lars Frederiksen has chosen to keep his boots on and enjoy where he came from. (Hellcat)