Tim Timebomb’s New Songs

One big piece of musical news last week was that ex-Operation Ivy bandmates Tim Armstrong and Jesse Michaels recorded a new song. But for me the big surprise was that Armstrong, under the name “Tim Timebomb“, has been been releasing new songs every day for almost a year. Every one is free on YouTube, though you can buy them as singles. I’d seen that name before (Armstrong used it for his half-successful “RockNRoll Theater” show a while back), but somehow this new project slipped under my radar.

I’m not going to formally review this collection, since it doesn’t fit into a standard album format, and I don’t think it’s intended to be bought as a whole package anyway. (It’s pretty scary to think about how much that $0.99/day would have added up to by now!) But I’m a huge fan of Armstrong, from his harder punk to his Joe Strummer-inspired musical fusion efforts. Even if a lot of these songs are unimpressive, it’s still a lot of fun to browse through them.

These are mainly in the vein of his laid-back solo effort a few years back, with a smooth voice and strong reggae/ska influence. If you listen to too many at once, they all start to run together pretty quickly, especially since the majority of them are covers or remakes of his older songs. But he does manage to include a very impressive variety in there, and you’ll find enough new songs and surprise guests to keep the search fun.

I’m sure that the daily schedule keeps the quality down and the production repetitive. His recent duet with Lindi Ortega, for example, should be incredible, but you can tell that their bands didn’t have enough time to figure out how to merge their sounds. And some songs are disappointing – I can’t believe he couldn’t do anything special with “Jockey Full of Bourbon” or “Summer of 69“. On the other hand, this is the only way he ever would have changed up “Django” and “Not to Regret” so much, or discussed his appreciation for classic country.

This may be uneven, but it’s a great project, and I’m glad to see a man like Armstrong experimenting with new distribution methods. It seems like a great creative project, too, with Armstrong planning new Rancid and Transplants albums this year. If he can release that much polished work, then all this dashed-off music is serving a great purpose. And meanwhile, I still have hours worth of new songs that I can’t wait to explore.

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