The Rubber City Rebels did their part as a sarcastic, stripped-down bar band in Akron in the late '70s. Theirs was a sound detached from the bloated arena rock of the time; they played originals in a scene overflowing with cover bands, and they were just noisy enough to get swept up in the new-wave zeitgeist. But the Rebels were not, by current definition, very punk. They were more akin to the pub rock brewing in England around the same time.
But as the lust to discover lost punk godfathers burrows through today's indie underground, many such also-rans get reimagined. The Rebels assist in this lowbrow revisionism by fashioning themselves as returning punk conquerors on Pierce My Brain, their first studio album in more than 20 years. The record retains the band's cornball humor, now mostly of the "Hey kid, I wuz a punk before you wuz" variety. But some of the loose, raw charm of their '70s stuff is lost here. The walking-punk blues of "Paper Plane" and the hard-rocked cover of '60s nugget "Talk Talk" stand with their best. But the Ramonesy stab, "I Don't Wanna Be a Punk No More," and the off-target cheese metal of "Your Warlord Is a Pussy" proves that sometimes it's best to let the legend lie.