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Can't Fight Your Way Up Town From Here (Clone Records)

"It wasn't magic or divine intervention, just a bunch of silly kids having fun," Bizarros frontman Nick Nicholis wails on the opening cut of the comeback album from the storied Akron punks. He's recalling the glory days of scruffy Midwest rock and roll, that oft-mythologized time when the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu sweated up local dives.

Not as outwardly antagonistic as their seminal Cleveland peers, the Bizarros were of the same class of forward-thinking oddballs. Their combination of punk vitriol melded with art-rock sophistication led to a deal with the Mercury Records imprint Blank Records. But the label went belly-up in 1978, before the Bizarros could release their debut, and the band never got the acclaim it deserved.

Maybe that'll change with their surprisingly solid return, Fight. If the finger-spraining, minute-long guitar solo that ends "67-77 (Live at Studio A)" doesn't convince you of the band's virility, clenched-fist kiss-offs like "Price to Pay" surely will. Full of growling, mid-paced rockers leavened by touches of keys and Nicholis's wizened wit, the album shows that the Bizarros have grown up without growing old.

Speaking of Regional Beat

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