Written by: PP on 29/09/2013 21:50:26

For some reason, Swedes have always taken a particular liking to Rancid and their discography. Don't get me wrong, I love Rancid as much as any other punk fan, but Swedish people make it almost into a religion, based on bands like Randy, Twopointeight, as well as my experiences from punk festivals within the country. Smalltown is next in line of bands that can safely claim Rancid as one of their primary inspirations on their compilation album "XII", which features the entirety of their "Read Between The Lines" EP from four years ago, an extra cover, as well as four brand new tracks.

The Rancid era in question is their newer material, when the elements of hardcore have mostly been mowed aside for a smooth-flowing, relaxed sound that embeds nuances of ska/reggae within it. "Read Between The Lines", for instance, showcases their vocalist singing with a similarly smoky voice as Tim Armstrong on "Let The Dominoes Fall", which should make any Rancid fans feel right at home. "Steal The Show", on the other hand, sounds like it could've been on Sublime's self-titled album given its ska/reggae beat. It's basically these two sounds that Smalltown alternate between throughout the course of the album. Characteristic to both styles is a chilled-out, relaxed vibe even if the tempo of the songs isn't slow by any means. Elsewhere, bands like The Clash, and by extension their reincarnation in the now-defunct Sharks are references in the process.

Tracks 9-12 on the record are all covers of The Strike, The Statues, Elvis Costello, and The Odd Numbers, respectively. These have been translated into the Smalltown style very convincingly, where especially the cover of "Radio Radio" (Elvis Costello) finds new life in a punk rock format. It's surprisingly different without sacrificing the original melody in the process.

Overall "XII" is a fairly enjoyable punk/ska/reggae album that is in no hurry to go anywhere, with a few catchy songs and a good atmosphere throughout. It's not something to write home about necessarily, but it does its job well. Rancid fans in particular must check this one out.


Download: Read Between The Lines, Steal The Show
For the fans of: Rancid, The Clash, Sharks, The Filaments, American Steel, twopointeight
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.02.2013
Pirates Press Records

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