Throw Rag, with Los Skarnales, Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys and Hell City Kings

Punk rock history is littered with dismal attempts at creative growth, from the Angelic Upstarts' New Wave misstep to Seven Seconds' spiritual awakening. But on 13 Ft. & Rising, the California desert rats in Throw Rag make a satisfying step forward that's unlikely to irk their biggest fans. And anyway, Throw Rag started out with shit-kicking, Southern rock-influenced bar punk, and from there it's not such a leap to the CBGB glam of "She Don't Want To (She Don't Care)" or the Dead Kennedys' sound-alike "Rotten Me" -- just a few steps toward a wider view. The band's more typical whiskey-burning rave-ups are enhanced by the layer of gravel that exquisitely obnoxious singer Captain Sean-Doe has acquired from cigarettes and touring -- and with his occasional quaver, he does a much better Axl than Scott Weiland. Goofy touches -- the occasional boinging mouth harp, the use of Motörhead's jet-fuel-gargling Lemmy Kilmister on background vocals -- fill out a ripping album that restores one's faith in the ability of a punk band to change outfits without looking ridiculous.
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Andrew Marcus