American Teenage Rock 'N' Roll Machine
by Erik Swedlund
There are some kinds of music that you listen to when you're in a dark mood. The soundtrack to Until the End of the World, perhaps. Then there is music that you listen to when you're in a dark mood, and it immediately puts you in a kick-ass mood. The kind of mood where you think it might be fun to have someone slap you. Hard.
This album, released by the Donnas in 1998 on Lookout Records, will not only change your mood, but will also supply the slap. The Donnas kick some serious ass. All the songs feature repetitive (snappy) choruses, dirty power chords, and driving bass lines. Think The Ramones, but with less production value.
If you're looking for a prototypical slutty-high-school-girl garage punk band whose members all have the same name and wear tight T-shirts and tighter pants, and feature a 1998 pinup calendar on their CD insert, then look no further. These are the girls Ed Wood made movies about.
Ah! Donna C., Donna F., Donna A., and Donna R.! It's so hard to choose a favorite. But don't worry--choosing a favorite Donna is not the same, daunting task as choosing your favorite member of N'Sync (is one of them named Jordan? When it comes to the N'Sync/NKOTB/Whatever-the-mall-girls-are-listening-to genre, I'd have to go with the one named Jordan--and there always is one). While your choice of Donnas is varied (short, blue top and purple pants vs. tall, yellow top and pink pants), they all share one, inescapable quality: a top-notch sneer. Assembled, the Donnas put forth a sneer power not to be trifled with.
As to the individual songs, it can be hard to distinguish. They all have the basic premise of short, fast, loud, catchy, slutty. It's a formula that works. For my money, though, I'd have to choose "Leather on Leather," a happy little ditty about a slut.
Wonder-Slut Powers, Activate!