Paul Westerberg's songwriting genius and the inimitable sloppy chemistry of the Replacements ensure that disciples of their punkish thrash have never quite captured their essence: a country-music-like vulnerability and scrappy indie attitude that produced tunes with equal parts heart and DIY heft.
Yet modern 'Mats progeny -- especially N.Y.C.-via-upstate-New York youngsters the Star Spangles -- fare much better at preserving the beer-soaked legacy. Despite skipping the Westerbergian lyrical wallowing and his troubadour tendencies, the quartet's much-overlooked 2003 debut, Bazooka!!!, captures the gritty vibrancy of 'Mats caterwauling to a T, meshing rakish fuzzbombs of power punk and slurred vocal rasps from Ian Wilson that aren't afraid to slip off-key or become completely unintelligible. What's even more appealing about the Spangles is their determination to eschew neo-garage rock's gloss by channeling everything from the Undertones' sprightliness ("I Don't Wanna Be Crazy Anymore") and Cheap Trick's skyscraping riffs ("L.A.") to a Ramones-caliber roar ("Angela") or Bowie-style glam stomp ("Stay Away From Me").