This bass-drums-guitar trio from Portland, Oregon, specializes in raucous punk/pop tunes rendered with artless boy/girl singing. In other words, they’re not much different than about 5,000 other alternative bands; however, like HŸsker DŸ and the Replacements, Hazel have that all-too-rare gift for seamlessly blending feral energy and potent melody. Their new sophomore LP, Are You Going to Eat That (Sub Pop), is packed with three-minute joyrides: almost every tune features solid hooks, interesting instrumental breaks, and giddily reckless playing. The band also avoids the perfunctory arrangements that punkish trios invariably utilize. On “Blank Florida” background chanting provides an unusual counterpoint to a loping chorus melody, and “Quick Jerk” grafts a lilting vocal duet onto a pummeling guitar riff. Except for Britain’s Blue Aeroplanes, Hazel is the only group I know of that tours with a dancer–gender bender Fred Nemo. While many current “punk” bands are content to flog rock’s most depleted conventions, Hazel delivers something fresh without being the least bit highfalutin. They open the sold-out Veruca Salt show Saturday at the Riviera and headline Sunday, 9 PM, at Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Alice Wheeler.