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Hit After Hit

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Album Review

The Briefs are a bunch of punks from Seattle, but they fight with their wits, not with their fists. And Hit After Hit, their Dirtnap records debut, delivers on the title's promise to pummel you with the punch line. Bandmembers wield bats and chains on the cover, but by the inside sleeve are bloodied and bumbling — with smashed-to-a-pulp faces in need of a mother's love — under a scrawled message, "We got the Beat!" While the Briefs are the first to make fun of their lack of prowess when it comes to fighting and loving, their music is nothing to joke about. Mixing elements from the best of late-'70s and early-'80s punk and new wave, they unleash dynamic songs with sly hooks; scratchy, corkscrewed guitar solos; and hyperactive, mad scientist vocals. Taking a guffaw of humor from the Dickies and Toy Dolls, a smear of street grime from the Heartbreakers and the Ramones, and a kiss of pop seduction from the Buzzcocks and Generation X, the music is funny, tough, and catchy enough to cause spasms of dancing. And even with electric bolts from their forebears zigzagging through their songs like the slanted stripes on their skinny ties, you can't sum up the Briefs with just a list of their influences. They begin with the template, but build their songs with their own off-kilter sensibility and contagious melodies. From the opening drum gambol and spiky guitar solo of "Poor and Weird," which launches the album, to the jaunty shouts of "All right" peppering "New Shoes" and "Knife," they make you feel too good to worry about who went first anyhow. "Rotten Love" teases with a grumbling bassline and unrelenting mid-tempo swagger, with faint British brininess on vocals that deliver perfectly pitched irony with every "Yeah" and "Oh yeah." "I'm a Raccoon" and "Sylvia" dash along on the verge of chaos, like a careening sprint to outrun the angry mob of meat-heads who, five minutes later, have just gotten the joke that the Briefs insulted them. The band's lyrics suggest both the hormone-dusted cusp of puberty when boys first notice girls but still taunt each other into laughing fits that make root beer spurt from their noses — and the later nights of smoking cigarettes in graffiti-drenched punk clubs and alleys. The songs exude high-spirited hijinks like "I've got a new pair of shoes and I'm better than you," on "New Shoes," and the call-to-arms against Bob Seger on "Silver Bullet," but they also contain darker moments that flash with the threat of violence. Having said all that, like much of the best punk rock, thinking too hard about the Briefs goes against the spirit of the band anyhow. Their follow-up album will be released on Interscope Records, making Hit After Hit, Rovi


Formed: 1999 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Looking like a new wave band sharply dressed in skinny ties, bleached hair, and plastic sunglasses, retro-punks the Briefs blasted onto the Seattle music scene in the latter half of 1999. The charmingly snotty quartet took sonic cues from late-'70s British punk and early-'80s L.A. bands, wearing influences like Buzzcocks, the Adverts, the Adolescents, Generation X, and the Undertones on their collective sleeve. The Briefs quickly made a name for themselves locally with an energetic live show, cheeky...
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Hit After Hit, The Briefs
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