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God Squad 

1986-1989 Retrospective (Excessive Records)

In the late '80s, as Death of Samantha, Prisonshake, and others were getting all post-post-punk by reinventing classic rock, the God Squad was still covering the Sex Pistols. They were the perennial openers for "bigger" bands on the scene, like the kid brother who keeps watch at the garage door while big brother and his buds bust out the bong.

But listening to this compilation of the God Squad's cassette-only releases proves they had more going on than just teen get-go; the requisite Ramones riffing and spiteful spit-ups are colored by chiming chorus pedals, dapper singer Mark Furious's mopey accent, and way too many clunky drum rolls. Early tunes are indicative of the spirited gropes in the dark that populated college radio at the time; later, they take on a Replacements-like swagger, and the last two songs almost sound as if they're coming from an entirely different band. If it all adds up to a junior varsity Death of Samantha, it's still a keeper, as a document of the way such Rust Belt brats earnestly fumbled with punk's basics.

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