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HAGFISH (Buy CDs by this artist)
Buick Men (Dragon Street) 1993
... Rocks Your Lame Ass (London) 1995
Hagfish (Honest Don's) 1998
Caught Live (Coldfront) 1999
That Was Then, This Is Then (Coldfront) 2001

It might be unfair to characterize this caffeinated combo as Dallas' entrants in the Green Day 500 — after all, Hagfish had made its impact on plenty of impressionable Lone Star minds long before Dookie-mania gripped the land. Nevertheless, the band's speedy, snotty bashing is clearly derived from the same set of sources, with a slightly stronger dose of Ramones damage. Hagfish gained its first national notoriety as part of a CD that accompanied George Gimarc's book, Punk Diary 1970-1979 — an anachronistic context that makes perfect sense given the gabba gabba giddiness with which ebullient frontman George Stroud Reagan III (!) barrels through the pulsing guitars.

On Buick Men, Hagfish sets broad locker-room humor against cuddly (if raucous) power pop riffing. Since they're as willing to mock themselves (see "New Punk Rock Song") as the outside things they lampoon, it's hard to hold the dopiness of, say, "Lesbian Girl" against Hagfish. Seven of the album's nineteen songs were reprised on the subsequent major-label debut.

Although Hagfish...Rocks Your Lame Ass is an asking-for-trouble title, the well-dressed quartet nearly succeeds in living up to it, stringing together fourteen kinetic pogo-punk ditties that uniformly recoil when the three-minute mark approaches. (Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton of All produced.) Reagan's flair for blending no-holds-barred humor ("Stamp" offers crude advice on trading sexual favors for nightclub admittance) and sardonic political observation (the anti-racist tract "White Food") is impressive enough, and guitarist Zach Blair readily passes the barre (chord), but the band could use some more eccentricities.

[David Sprague]