Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Briefs: Hit After Hit

Review # 62
Artist: The Briefs
Title: Hit After Hit
Format: LP
Label: Dirtnap Records
Year: 2000
Songs: 13

In the Northwest at the beginning of the century there was an explosion bands that hearkened back musically to the first wave of punk. After reeling  and catching its fall in the post "grunge" years, the local scene in the mid to late '90s was dominated by metallic hardcore, crust, and some 1980s style street punk. After years of this, the blossoming of '77 style and new wave influenced bands was like a breath of fresh air. I love the hardcore of the 1990s, don't get me wrong, but even I was getting bored with going to see metaly crust, crusty metal, and metaly hardcore every single weekend, and the Briefs were at the forefront of a wave of poppy '77 style punk rock that injected a lot of energy and fun into the scene for a couple of years.

Hit After Hit is the band's debut LP, and while all of their records are solid, this one really is the one with the hits on it. Reminiscent of the Buzzcocks, Eater, Generation X, the first Adverts singles, the Ramones, and just a hint of Devo and maybe even the Cars, this record is high energy fun from beginning to end. Even the subject matter recalls the early punk bands--"Silver Bullet," for example, is a song about the urgent need to "kill Bob Seeger right now," a sentiment which would have made more sense in a musical era in which Bob Seeger was still considered musically relevant than in the early 2000s. But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The Briefs (and this record in particular) were a nice break from hardcore, and the music on this record, while perhaps not totally original, is a flawless take on a classic sound. The songs are incredibly catchy and, while I haven't played this disc in a while, it always has me bouncing around the room, singing and along and making snotty faces.

There's not really a bad song on here, but side A dominates, with four of the six songs among my favorite tunes by the band. "Poor and Weird," aside from being incredibly fun, expresses a sentiment that most punk rockers feel at some point in their lives: "I'm poor and I'm weird, you've got no time for me." Alienation with attitude, like the best of the first wave of punk bands. "Sylvia" is one of the most driving and fun punk songs ever to come out of Seattle. Then there's the aforementioned "Silver Bullet" and the mid-tempo live favorite "Rotten Love." The gem on side B is "New Shoes," which, along with being  a great pop song, pokes fun at the fashion-obsessed and self-satisfied. There's not a lot of depth to any of the lyrics on this record, and it's not really about that, but it's still nice to have a couple of songs that comment on something you can relate to. The band would make a couple of attempts to be a little more serious on later releases, but "New Shoes" and "Poor and Weird" are as close to that as you get on this LP, which again, is a nice change from the unrelenting earnestness of crust and hardcore.

In short, if you're looking for some fun '77 style punk that doesn't take itself too seriously, it's hard to beat Hit After Hit, this side of 1979.

Total songs listened: 775

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