Music » Rhythm & Views

The Distortionists: The Mark Side of the Dune (Tu-Lo)

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This local trio injects a glorious variety of punk styles into its full-length debut album. Garage rock, proto-metal, psychedelic thrash, Batman-meets-spy movie rave-ups, surf punk, atonal experiments and herky-jerky art-squall are among the mad flavors that come at you like a rampaging jukebox on steroids. The Distortionists prove that ADHD can fuel creativity, romping through 23 tracks in less than 50 minutes.

The band doesn't limit itself to its power-trio instrumentation. Guitarist Mike Panico plays a little flute, drummer Taylor Hardy contributes theremin, and bassist John Hayes tosses in some banjo. All three members sing, and are surprisingly versatile, occasionally sounding like pioneering punk vocalists such as Jello Biafra, Johnny Rotten, Keith Morris, Pete Shelley and Dave Vanian.

There are short-jab novelty numbers, such as "Lunch Junkie" and "Don't Eat Paint," no-wave-influenced surf sounds in "Sand Crab Dip" and "Nonstrumental," and artsy indulgences like the relatively epic-length (3 1/2 minutes) "Kick You in the Face With My Size 10 Buster Browns," which lurches and lunges like a combination of Black Flag and Big Black. The album begins and ends strong, with its last two cuts as good as what came before. One of the best tunes is the penultimate "In the Can," on which Panico peels out on guitar, and that grinding closer, "This Is Tucson, Not L.A.," ought to be the Old Pueblo's new anthem.

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