At this point, each member of Rancid’s musical personality has been established in both the annals of punk and pop music as well as in fans’ hearts (Lars Fredericksen is the “streetwise professor,” blasting out poppy street punk which is at home on punk playlists but has a flawless pop heart, Tim Armstrong is the ska side of the band, the band’s drummer has been replaced a couple of times and bassist Matt Freeman is the growling sideman who tosses in a few gravelly choral rejoinders when required, but spends most of his time flying up and down the neck of his bass at a breakneck speed), but that doesn’t mean everything about the band is right in listeners’ collective face. Rather, while fans are aware of Matt Freeman’s contributions to Rancid, they may not know what the bassist is really all about at all – and that’s what his solo project, Charger, is for.
Charger’s debut LP has already been released (a review is forthcoming) but, for those who just want a collectible taste of Charger’s wares, the glowing eyed, single song “Watch Your Back” single pretty much sums up everything listeners need to know.
From the moment “Watch Your Back” hits the proverbial ground (after those who put it on a turntable figure out where the song starts – it’s harder than you’d think) it becomes perfectly evident where Charger comes from and where they’re headed; with crunchy, punk-n’-roll guitars, simpler bass figures than one might expect from the bassist of Rancid and a juicy chunk of war-torn, “just gargled with battery acid” vocals fans expect from Freeman all locked tightly into place, the band proceeds to unload the best (and most genuine) slab of Motörhead-inspired rock that Motörhead didn’t record. For a little more than two and a half minutes, Charger plays hard with a form which is equal parts Motörhead and Social Distortion, but skips most of the minutiae that either of those bands were normally given to including (no solos, no yell-able lyrics, not much in the way of memorable riffs or hooks either), and then just gets the hell out. No muss, no fuss and no nonsense – just an incredible blast which will leave heads spinning.
Now, with all of that said, it would be easy to assume that nothing about the “Watch Your Back” single is memorable, and that’s not true – not even vaguely. I’m not even talking about the vinyl itself, really – sure, the glowing eyes of the ram on the playable side of this single are neat, and the band picture on the other side of the single looks pretty good too (as long as one ignores the fact that slapping a song that’s under three minutes long on a twelve-inch record as its sole musical component could easily be seen as wasteful), but the song featured is a decent taste which can whet listeners’ appetites, and the collectible appeal of the single will help, as well. True, the release is not perfect, it would be difficult to say that it’s great, too – but it IS a neat little curiosity which could sell, and could sell listeners on the band.
(Pirates Press Records)
The Watch Your Back single is out now. Buy it here, directly from Pirates Press Records. https://shop.piratespressrecords.com/products/charger-watch-your-back-12-single