For some reason I found myself wanting to
rock. I pulled my AC/DC off the shelf. I wore the last three
Melt-Banana albums into the ground. Maybe it's the effect of the new
century -- my mind wants to have some fun and celebrate. The brothers Young
and my favorite Japanese import aside, thank God for the Donnas. Especially
The Donnas Turn 21.
When their last album was released, I picked it up in the record store, all set
to buy it. But for some reason I can't remember, I decided not to buy Get
Skin Tight. What was I thinking? Fresh from my purchase of
Turn 21, I've bought out The Donnas' back catalogue and vowed never
to let this happen again. That's is how great Turn 21 is. It is
infectious in the best and most viral sense of the word -- the songs get under your
skin and thrash around. I'm so taken with this album that I have been
playing it morning, noon and night. 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, I'm
playing the The Donnas Turn 21. Middle of the day at work, ignoring
calls to turn down the music, The Donnas are on. What's so great about this record that I'd risk upsetting the neighbors and my coworkers? Imagine, if
you will, an entire album of songs like Sloan's "She Says What She Means".
Or, if the Sloan reference escapes you, picture your ideal combination of
pop songs, amplified guitars and lyrics about Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll,
in that order.
Kicking off with the one-two combo of "Are You Gonna Move It for Me" and
"Do You Wanna Hit It", the album dives hip-deep into driving bass and drums, chunky guitar
chords and enough innuendo to choke the average sitcom. Soon after comes
the utterly wonderful "Play My Game"...first the pounding drums, then the
chorus, then the guitars. Is there any better way? Because of this song, I
have been contemplating buying a pinball machine. That's what the album is about: unforgettable guitar licks, hilarious lyrics about fucking, drinking, eating and ingesting anything imaginable. A prescription for how to lead you life? No, but it sure sounds fun. Many reviewers have
gone out of their way to compare The Donnas to The Ramones, as if the group
was an all-girl Ramones tribute. They're missing the point. When I was a kid, my uncle shared his record collection with me. There was AC/DC, early Queen, The Rolling Stones, Joan
Jett and countless other bands who released only one album, and whose names I
can't remember now. The point is, The Donnas remind me of those albums as
well as the Ramones. The Donnas want to sound like they're from the late '70s, hence the easy Ramones reference, but why put them down for being good at it? The Donnas do the same thing bands did back then: they make fun songs, songs that want to be called "rock and
roll", songs that reach back past the 1960s into the earliest years of
rock. Jump back in time and give Phil Spector a Marshall stack and you'd
get something like The Donnas. A Marshall plus a dirty mind, that is.
"Police Blitz" imagines a romp with a cop who has pulled the band over for speeding. "You've Got a Crush on Me" calls out the band's fans, who undoubtedly imagine a similar game of bed-hockey with their favorite girl group. Hedonism at its best, folks.
Because of Turn 21, I've been tempted to start playing the drums again,
or to take up guitar because I want to try my hand at something this much fun.
Whenever I hear the album's final track, "Nothing To Do", I have a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day. There is no refusing this
album. This is something to treasure, not because it makes you think or
because it is deeply emotional. The Donnas Turn 21 is something to
treasure because it rocks. Scratch that, because it fucking rocks. I can't
emphasize that enough.