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SMEARS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Kick My Butt EP (Hell Yeah) 1993
Love Is fer Suckers (Headhunter/Cargo) 1994
Smears in the Garage EP (Headhunter/Cargo) 1995
Like Hell (Headhunter/Cargo) 1996

With local indie-rock god John Strohm co-producing, Bloomington, Indiana's Smears — three excitable young women with extremely bad attitudes — make an impressively forceful mid-tempo racket on Love Is fer Suckers. Taking turns at the mic, guitarist Kathleen Gregg and bassist Gretchen Holtz roar out a frightening litany of likes (crystal meth, fucking, Patty Duke's body) and hates ("Stupid Chicks With High Voices," "Vom-Sorb," "Ear Ache," you, it), parading catchy tunes with convincing irritation. An overriding sense of good-natured humor and breaks in the volumetric pressure (the winsome "No Fun," parts of "Knock Knock Joke") help the pill go down, undercutting the Hole resemblance. Best rhyme: "I'm having a panic attack and an existential crisis/I sure would like to buy that but I don't know what the price is."

The trio followed that album with Smears in the Garage, an EP of covers (the CD of which appends the seven songs from the early EP), then a second Strohm-produced full-lengther, Like Hell. Musically refined but lyrically unrepentant, these terminal grumps describe "Worst Day of My Life," complain that "The Good Old Days Sucked" and announce "I'm a Whore" and "I'm gonna cheat on my boyfriend." "Not Fucking Happy" pretty much covers the stance here, but don't let that put you off what is actually a friendly sounding and peppy little record.

[Ira Robbins]