Punk 'N' Circumstance

You know that feeling when you're standing under the shower head, and the water is pummeling your shoulders like a herd of buffalo? That's when I reach down and crank up the hot handle a little more, until the water's just short of scalding. Then, when I become immune to the sting, I reach down again and ratchet the temp up a few more notches. Over and over I do this, until the pink hue no longer just colors my skin but actually radiates from my being. I'm so happy in my near-blistered glory.

That's the kind of satisfaction I get listening to Jim Weber's perfectly serrated punk-guitar buzz and Eric Davidson's wild-man howls on Nightmare Scenario's "End of the Great Credibility Race" (RealAudio excerpt). And every time I crank it up a little Louder, I grow a little more red, until eventually I just want to jump right through the wall, like some blissfully loony Daffy Duck.

Ohio's New Bomb Turks operate much like Seattle's pop-punk veterans the Fastbacks, playing white-hot punk rock 'n' roll regardless of what's in fashion. With their fifth full-length (and first with new drummer Sam Brown) they hand over their best disc since their debut masterwork, 1993's Destroy — Oh Boy.

After nearly a decade of playing with little acclaim, the Turks remain committed to the simple but honorable cause of rocking out. "This cat's pushing No. 9. He's got nothing left to lose," Davidson sings on "Continental Cats," his voice, as always, equal parts self-deprecation and swagger. On "Point A to Point Blank" (RealAudio excerpt) and "End of the Great Credibility Race," he throws knowing daggers at the

pointless minutia of punk and indie rock.

The New Bomb Turks aren't experimentalists, but they're also not so traditional that they're afraid to monkey with their sound; hence, the metal keyboards of "Killer's Kiss" (RealAudio excerpt), the surfy power chords on "The Roof" and the slide guitar of "Your Beaten Heart." Still, practice doesn't always make perfect, as Davidson at times still lets his brain get in the way of his writing. (It's hard not to shudder when you hear lyrics such as "the ego e-coli spreads equally.") Then again, such moments are half-buried in blazes of distortion and cymbals. If this album could use anything, it's some bass in the mix, but then that just makes it the little brother of the MC5's Back in the U.S.A. and the Stooges' Raw Power. There are certainly worse places to be.