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Better Days

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Album Review

In the thick, dog-eared logbook of bands with perfect monikers, the Bruisers must have a heading in bold. The Boston-area unit drew from the region's rich musical and cultural history to brew up its distinctive street punk sound, incorporating elements of punk rock, hardcore, Oi!, rockabilly, and the general throwback ethos of the city itself. The band eventually dissolved after ten-plus years of pain-don't-hurt D.I.Y. revivalism, and vocalist Al Barr famously replaced Dropkick Murphys shouter Mike McColgan. But the Bruisers' legacy continues with Better Days, Taang's 18-track compendium of the group's finest moments. The blistering title track shares its ragged sound and hard-luck tale with Social Distortion, while "Chrome" revs up rockabilly with punk urgency to suggest Del Shannon in black leather. Other highlights include "Hard Line," which somehow strikes a balance between wiry, anxious, and manic, and "End of the Line," which again crosses rock & roll's '50s roots with the fatalism and toughness of punk. A series of covers close out Better Days, with a rousing, appropriately slurred version of Johnny Thunders' "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" standing out. Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" appears here as "Lunatic" — the Bruisers' take has spilled engine grease and lager all over it, but the song's good-natured bad temper still shines through.

Better Days, Bruisers
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