The Brawlers have been around since 1999, and their latest album shows the band's meld of rockabilly, punk and surf music at its most seamless. The local quartet keeps things simple and direct, always opting for heart and guts rather than elaboration. Maybe that's why songs that sound initially like garden-variety punkabilly get better with repeated listens.
The band throws in a few nice twists. Guitarist Justin Valdez plays a mandolin on "1/20," lending the Celtic-punk hybrid a rollicking, dizzy momentum. And there's a little metal snarl in his guitar in "Wild at Heart." The success depends on a great rhythm section, and they've got one in the rambunctious thump of Eric Eulogy's double bass, and the balls-to-the-wall propulsion of drummer Joel "Papa Bear" Dunst.
Lead singer Marty Muerto seems most concerned with violence, the specter of death, adoration for the good girls and no small amount of distaste for the bad ones. Although the psychobilly of "One That Got Away" and the off-the-rails barnburner "Los Mineros" are both a blast, the best tune here is "Six String Rhythm," in which Muerto testifies that music has led him (or his protagonist) away from a life of anger and hair-trigger violence. Pumped full of red-line rhythms and fat, twangy guitar leads, it's rich and eminently catchy.