The Distortions: Exploding Teenage Body Parts (Blank Recordings, 2005)

by Jason

The DistortionsThe Distortions are a Los Angeles based group that come at you with tons of energy akin to Sonic Youth and Social Distortion, but they also have the subtlety of shoegaze bands of the 80’s and you might want to throw in some Flesh for Lulu and Psychedelic Furs for good measure. Forming in 2004, this trio has quickly established their sound and, if they can pull off live what I hear on the disc, they have gotten tight in a very short amount of time. Being from around Los Angeles, they really communicate the dark side of that city. I feel like I am in the midst of Los Angeles in the mid-80’s with this album churning in my player.

Exploding Teenage Body Parts begins with a song of the same name that has aggressive guitars and driving percussion. Right away, the listener is hit with the high-energy barrage this band is capable of. The song is very pessimistic and has a worldview that is altogether dismal. This is followed by “Getting What We Deserve.” Again, this begins with high energy and continues throughout the song. This song reminds me of soundtracks compiled for movies like Pretty In Pink and other fab 80’s movie comps. Again, this track is way fatalistic. Don’t look for your pie in the sky on this disc for sure. “Books” follows with a slower pace, but no less fuzz and noise. I think the closest thing I have heard to this recently is Asobi Seksu’s live set. This tune seems to be about people who steal their images from others and are not really intellectuals but just act like it. The darkness of Ian Curtis’ past is mentioned in the song, which is kind of cool and gives you a sense of the tone of the album.

“Shoegazer” shows The Distortions somewhat shimmery side. F’s (yes, that’s his name in the jacket) vocals are charismatic and really powerful. He weeps through the speakers and the guitars jangle and shimmer around his vox. “Hinterland” has a medium tempo beat with staccato type vox in the verses. The chorus soars a bit with bright, shimmery guitars. A deep, dark world of drugs and, perhaps that “bottom of the barrel” place, is communicated through this song. The bridge on this song is eerie, glittery, and layered with guitars. “A System for Shutting Everything Out” starts with feedback, aggressive bass and breaks into a killer groove. The vox are eerie and have a foreboding feeling and the beat frantic. This transitions in “The Dogs,” which is a true punk song. It feels like Social Distortion mixed with Sonic Youth. It has that punk anthem sort of feeling, but F’s vocals are not grating and annoying like many such songs.

“Mansion” begins with shimmering guitar picking. It is a slow tempo song with those Flesh for Lulu style vox again. Really, this is what I think Distortion does best. When they are slow, patient, and glittering, they really shine the best. “Into the Next” has floating vocals and a strong beat with bright guitars. It is a loft sort of ending to this disc and is very fitting for their final track. This was a very good choice for a closer.

All in all, this is a solid album. The Distortions sound brings back a lot of old memories from my high school days, yet, they are fresh and the mixing on this disc is great. I can’t wait to hear what they do next!

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