Nuclear family

If an award were ever given for perseverance on the Atlanta scene, Nuclear Saturday would certainly be a frontrunner. Formed in '97, the quartet was promptly snapped up by California label Vagrant, only to be jettisoned in favor of the emo-peddlers that would eventually become synonymous with the label. "We were one of the few pop-punk bands," says guitarist Marc McClusky. "They got rid of everyone that didn't sound like Dashboard Confessional."

Fortunately, the bitterness hasn't seeped into Nuclear Saturday's music. After several years languishing in semi-obscurity, the band has emerged with a clutch of new songs that, while preserving snotty humor (one track is called "The Gag Reflex"), also demonstrate a newfound maturity and sophistication. The sunny sing-along punk of Green Day is perhaps the obvious reference point, which McClusky readily confesses, but the tunes are also informed by headier, classic touchstones such as the Clash, Beach Boys and even Buddy Holly.

And there are signs the commercial pendulum may finally be swinging back in the band's direction. Last year, Nuclear Saturday put out The Best Time You Never Had on New School Records, a small Oregon-based label, and 4,000 copies later, it has gone in to a third pressing.

The band was also added to this year's Warped Tour, and recently showcased for over 10 record labels in New York. Yet too many bands come and go where the industry dictates and get too swept up in the moment, changing into black T-shirts and becoming "hardcore." Just don't expect Nuclear Saturday to chase the prevailing trend. Seven years into the band's career, McClusky's obstinacy shows no sign of abating: "I'm still wearing my striped shirts and Dickies."

Nuclear Saturday plays Swayze's Fri., July 16, 7 p.m. $6.