The Distortions

The Distortions
Exploding Teenage Body Part (2005, Blank Recordings)

Now that ‘alternative rock’ is it’s own musical genre rather than a concept of the industry, it’s almost safe to peg a band as such without it being a back-handed compliment. Almost. The Distortions have written some decent tunes, they reference Bowie & the Gang Of Four, but the fact remains you’ve heard this sound once before in the Strokes and BRMC (or twice before if you’re old enough to remember the Jesus & Mary Chain in their hey-day).

The title track is a galloping head-banger. If it’s not a local hit in the Los Angeles bar scene, it should be. Sure it’s a little late to be a Generation X anthem, but a catchy hook is a catchy hook. Snappy crowd-pleaser ‘The Dogs’ also uses this nothing-more-nothing-less formula with, well, pretty good results. The tuneful growl and post-grunge riffs only go so far though. Some tracks like ‘Books’ seem downright plodding, and others fall into the ‘tries too hard category’ (see: ‘Shoegazer’).

Overall I’ll admit the disc shows promise. After all it’s a difficult genre of music to make an impact in. The music can be exciting, but the vocal style makes the singer sound 25 years older and 4 times more doped up than in actuality. The song ‘Hinterland’ begs to be played loud, but simultaneously persuades you to close your eyes and simply seep into the sound. The playing and songwriting chops are raw but essentially there, it just seems like the band is teetering in the alterna-sphere, undecided whether or not they want to experiment with their sound more (like J&MC) or sell more records (like every popular band that ripped off J&MC 3 years ago).

-Mark Hughson 10/7/05

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