The 3-year-old outfit isn't a new group by any means, but one listen to their sophomore release, Liquid Courage, proves the Stiffs haven't been sitting on their asses. The band -- the surnameless Dave, Mike, Eric, and Kevin (the last from the Swingin' Utters) -- has dropped the bratty thrash for a more mature pub-style punk: faster guitar crunch, clearer vocals, better bass lines, and newfound sense of harmony. This is best exemplified on the third track, "Three Ring City," a well-written screed against S.F. politics that roars along at breakneck speed until cutting into a midtempo chorus: The guitars and drums stop, a bouncy bass pulls along the melody, and what sounds like all the members pick up with the chant, "Down at City Hall." This may make some punks wince, but none of the Stiffs' angst is compromised. Reason enough to join them in celebrating their new release with the hometown folks this weekend.
-- Robert Arriaga
The Workin' Stiffs appear with One Man Army, the Reducers, and the Randumbs on Friday, Aug. 21, at 9 p.m. at the Cocodrie, 1024 Kearny (at Broadway). Tickets are $6; call 986-6678.