Critic's Choice

Queers

If you're going to do an Internet search for the Queers (who appear June 11 at the Bluebird Theater, with the Briefs and the Independents), don't do it at work: Locating the band online involves scrolling through pages of hits, including Queers for Christ and a Web site named thequeers.com that is definitely not about this band. (Try thequeers.net.) But befuddling and irritating people was all part of the point when straight singer/guitar player Joe King, aka Joe Queer, founded the band in New Hampshire way back in 1982. The only original member left in the lineup, King is currently touring behind Pleasant Screams, the Queers' strongest album since 1996's Don't Back Down. Mixing jangle-pop/punk and seemingly puerile (but often subtly clever lyrics) is an art King has mastered -- though no one would say he has "matured" in any way. Cheerfully rude-but-catchy songs like "See You Later, Fuckface," and the (sort of) pro-gay "Homo" illustrate King's arrested development: "Be proud of who you are and don't be scared/You're a homo/You're a homo and everybody knows." The new album's title -- a nod to the Ramones' Pleasant Dreams -- is a testament to King's affinity for Joey and the boys. But King owes as much to Brian Wilson as he does to the Blitzkrieg Boppers, which makes for a weird amalgam of aggressive but simultaneously hook-laden, harmonious tunes.

 
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