Rancid, 'Let the Dominoes Fall' (Hellcat/Epitaph)

Critical Mass
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by Jon Dolan

"We're still around," Tim Armstrong growls over Lars Frederiksen's peppy guitar blitz as these lovable mosh-pit lifers kick off album number seven. The sunny brutalism of Rancid's East Bay ska-thrash has lost nary a step and their ethical-emotional rigor is as sweet as it is pure. They repo the melody from 1995's "Ruby Soho" to sing about feeling "disconnected from the country I love"; blaze through Iraq/media/Katrina gripes; and write with working-class empathy about a soldier, a stripper, and punk rock itself -- "a place where everyone can belong." It's like the Clash, with hugs!

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