The Fisters: Hell Arizona (Self-Released)

Judging by the group's name, I might've thought The Fisters were a hard-core band. It turns out, to my delight, that the Tucson trio plays brittle and melodic late-1970s style punk of the primordial California variety.

It also makes sense that bassist and singer Joy—all three members use Fister as their last name, you know, like the Ramones—was a founding member of the San Francisco band SSI. As early punk climbed from the ooze, her band shared the stage with such acts as The Avengers, The Nuns, Germs and Circle Jerks.

After relocating in Tucson a few years back, Joy found like-minded guitarist and vocalist Tim. Their singing together captures the same off-kilter beauty of the John Doe-Exene vocal harmonies in the legendary Los Angeles band X. It doesn't hurt that The Fisters also trade in pile-driver Bo Diddley-style beats and whiplash-rockabilly guitar leads similar to the sound of that legendary act. On their debut album, "USA Baby," in fact, could've been a lost outtake from an X recording session.

Songs such as "Meltdown," "Tommy Does Drugs" and "Clueless Bastard" find thrift-store poetry in rudimentary lyrics about the darker sides of life. Joy takes the lead on such irresistible garage-punk gems as "Speed Rain," "Hollywood Bowl" and "Get Used," while Tim takes over the microphone on the slightly spooky title track, which details the frustration of living in the overheated desert. In either case, they back each other up, and the joyful sense of abandon The Fisters bring to their music is evident in the take-no-prisoners attitude and arrangements.

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