• Bags
  • Rock Starve (Restless) 1987 
  • The Bags (Stanton Park) 1990 
  • Swamp Oaf
  • Swamp Oaf (Stanton Park) 1989 

The product of a city with a tremendous underground musical heritage, this Boston trio plays a hybrid of common punk and ’70s heavy-guitar rock, but writes surprisingly sensitive songs with memorable hooks and singalong choruses. On Rock Starve, the Bags demonstrate a singular ability to analyze and describe relationships and emotions with searing but subtle simplicity. (How often do you hear a hardcore number sincerely, even lovingly, describe a woman’s beauty?) The album doesn’t contain a bad tune.

Guitarist Crispin Wood and bassist Jon Hardy’s dual vocals show substantial maturity on the follow-up, and the material (like “Evil,” an examination of a recently severed relationship) is just as solid. The peculiarly danceable “Atomic Coconuts,” the hardcore “Superpower,” the moving “Closer Than” and the clever “Beauty of the Bud” are all terrific.

The Swamp Oaf album finds the Bags posing as a mythical lost monster band (… la Spinal Tap). Swamp Oaf was recorded in eighteen hours, uniting a variety of sounds (including a sort of goofy jazz improv) to create a very un-Bagsy platter.

[Ian McCaleb]