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The Casualties 

Thursday, July 10, at the Grog Shop, Cleveland Heights.

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According to the late Joe Strummer, punk rock croaked when folks began "turning rebellion into money." Somebody forgot to tell the Casualties about punk's passing. Vicious, hard-edged, and polished as a bullet, the New Jersey natives play the role of chain-sporting hard-asses, reminding fans that punk, at its best, should be both righteous and soaked in saliva. The title track from 2001's Die Hards spells out the band's simple but straightforward mantra: "We're the fucking punx/We're few, but we are real." It all sounds anthemic, almost existence-defining — until you realize that it's kind of a played-out theme. The Casualties are always ready to ruminate on what quantifies as true punk, why they're true punk, and why everyone else is poseur shit. Their best songs look inward at the D.I.Y. ethos ("Getting paid with beer and bread," claims "No Turning Back") and occasionally outward at the opposite sex ("Punk Rock Love"). Appreciating the Casualties means understanding that they're not reconceptualizing the genre, only resurrecting it — from the Buzzcocks' lightning-fast velocity to the Sex Pistols' no-future nihilism.

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