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Rubber City Rebels - Pierce My Brain

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Artist: Rubber City Rebels

Album: Pierce My Brain

Label: Smog Veil

Review date: May. 11, 2003

Smirking at the Spectre

You’re going to die. Sooner or later. More than likely, it’s going to happen in tiny increments. You may not notice. But you’re getting a little bit older with each grain that falls through the hourglass. And if you don’t notice, you aren’t paying attention. It starts hitting you immediately after college. Most of your time is planned for you. You feel obligated to reproach yourself when you encounter promotional materials for The Lizzie McGuire Movie. At least you’re still getting regular reports from down there. The passage of time only gets more and more obvious, offering more and more reminders that you’ve got a limited time on this orb, and odds are you’re already fucking it up royally.

The years wear harder on punks than on most of us. All that anger rips ulcers in your belly. Your hearing disappears because you thought you were tough for eschewing earplugs at house shows. Eventually, the sadness and horror bubbles up underneath all the blind, dumb rage. And you start to realize that you can tell the reaper to fuck off and he’ll still make you assume the position.

Punk lifers either leave early through the back door, or they grow a sense of humor.

The Rubber City Rebels were always pretty funny. Now they’re old, and they’re very funny. And, yeah, they realize they’re funny.

The narrator of “(I Wanna) Pierce My Brain” takes self-scarification too far, but still lands a job at the airport. “I Don’t Wanna Be A Punk No More” nods at the comic futility of working your way out of a niche when it's really too late: in this case, an impoverished guitarist wants his Christian surname back so he can put it on a job application, but even Mom has forgotten it.

Age is ultimately the most depressing thing under the smoggy skies, which is why you have to laugh at it. But Pierce My Brain isn’t depressing, save for “Dead Boy,” an elegy for legendary fuckup Stiv Bators, who, if he crapped out bigger than anyone else in Please Kill Me, at least “never had to hear a band that’s from Seattle.” “Always knew his days were numbered / Getting old was just for suckers / Ain’t it fun when you know you’re gonna die young?” If a punk doesn’t hop off the slow train to ineffectual masochism, does he have to either live or die a sick, sad joke? “Nobody has the answer / Better off than getting cancer.” Man. By a cruel quirk of fate, “Dead Boy” also stands as the catchiest, fistpumpingest thing on Pierce My Brain.

A straight-ahead cover of the Music Machine’s “Talk Talk” hints at what always set Rubber City Rebels apart from erstwhile contemporaries the Ramones. While the Ramones constantly squared up their debt to chipper girl-group pop, the Rebels are anchored in greaser crunch. Even now, they hug the road like Screeching Weasel doesn’t.

Oh, did you know Music Machine braintrust Sean Bonniwell went religious? That’s another way to face age, I s’pose.

By Emerson Dameron

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