The river city: sleepy Hartford, Vermont, which is just across the Connecticut River from Dartmouth College. The rebels: this horn-powered, six-piece streetpunk outfit, who are on their third album and third lead singer in three years.
Frontman problems aside, the band have gotten tighter with each album, and this is their best batch of songs to date. Taking over on the microphone is founding guitarist Dan OíDay, whose savage delivery suggests he should have been there all along. Heís a good old-fashioned nihilist, as the discís centerpiece, "No Good," attests: "I make mistakes, you shitface, and Iím no good." On "No Time," acoustic guitar and horns bring melody to the foreground, and OíDay sings a gentler tune about maintaining a strong work ethic. The brash frontman takes a sharp jab at working-class complacency on "No Pride"; other things he hates more than himself include jingoism and organized religion. Compared with their most obvious heroes, Rancid, the Rebels have more swagger than bombast in their attack. And thatís the secret to their success: for all their venom, these guys know punk is ultimately about having a good time.
(River City Rebels open for Catch 22 this Monday, December 30, at Axis. Call 617-262-2437.)