the Distortions | Machines at Night

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Rock: Psychedelic Rock: Shoegaze Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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Machines at Night

by the Distortions

The second album from LA indie shoegazers features ten shadowy songs layered with sparkling guitars, walls of fuzz, tambourines, sleigh bells, Theremin, pedal steel, and primitive drums. Fans of Doves and My Bloody Valentine will understand.
Genre: Rock: Psychedelic
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1. Sparkle Sparkle
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3:46 $0.99
2. A Beautiful Universe That Would Just As Soon Swallow Us Up
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6:45 $0.99
3. Galaxies Rearranging
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4:07 $0.99
4. We Will Knock the Spirits On Their Heels
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5. You Live a Hard Life
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6. This Place Doesn't Have the Balls to Kill Me
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7. Leadfoot
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8. Quiet Moment At the Factory
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9. Spare Change For the Wretched
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10. Waiting For the Searchlights to Come
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
At last, the long-awaited second album from LA indie rockers The Distortions is finally here. And it's already being hailed as "one of the standout records of the year so far".

"Machines at Night" begins where the first record left off, but quickly speeds off to places unknown yet familiar, like a dreamy road trip through your own head. Sparkling guitar layers, tambourines, sleigh bells, lush backing vocals, walls of fuzz, haunting Theremin, primitive drums and hypnotic bass are merely the vehicles here; what drives them are the ten darkly hopeful & brightly cynical songs, written, arranged and recorded in their downtown LA rehearsal room. The new CD was painstakingly produced by Distortions frontman F, and engineered by Colin Studybaker, known for his work with various Sub Pop acts, including Iron & Wine and Holopaw.

The hard-to-categorize Machines at Night was never an attempt to fit into any particular genre or style. While the density and spaciousness of its shimmering layers suggest some sort if indie/shoegaze hybrid, it's unprecedented use of gothic pedal steel and variety of Theremin voices (all performed by F) immediately pull this record into somewhat uncharted territory. Where descriptions are necessary, this music could reasonably be described as Galaxie 500 on acid.

The Distortions was formed in 2004 by guitarist/vocalist F and bassist Michael Scott. Soon after, the band released its debut album "Exploding Teenage Body Part" on its own label, Blank Recordings. Music journalists routinely used adjectives like shimmering minimalist dreamy sweeping fuzz-bliss glittering post-rock to describe the album's sound. The CD got tons of college radio airplay, and it was even aired in its entirety one afternoon in Los Angeles on KXLU's "The record *YOU* need to know about".

In summer 2005, the band teamed up with LA indie darlings Helen Stellar for a Northwest US tour, sharing a van and co-headlining nightly in cities between San Francisco, Boise, and Seattle.

It was after this tour that the band began the 18 month journey that led to the release of "Machines at Night". Regarding the need to make this particular record, F explains "The boredom, dull pain, and sheer filth of life has a sound to it. And to me, paradoxically, it all sounds strangely beautiful. For some reason, I see it as my job to mirror that in a musical way. I guess that's why I have to use all these difficult instruments and exact rhythms to capture that sound. If I don't get it perfectly, it's just useless and pointless. I felt like now was the time to finally do it right. With this new record, it feels like we actually got it right".

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Here's what Post-Punk.com wrote about "Machines at Night":

L.A. based band The Distortions have just released the album that you are going to be playing in your car all year for every one of those long breezy trips out of town and short excursions driving through the city at night. For that reason it is no coincidence that this album is titled “Machines At Night”.

With “Machines At Night”, The Distortions have released a remarkably subtle and nuanced album that effortlessly dispels any notions of the sophomore slump with such restrained & reflective cool that too many bands in the indie scene these days wish they had but fail to find for their follow up.

Though not a bad album in its own right, The Distortions first album “Exploding Teenage Body Part” was somewhat uneven. When comparing songs like the blistering punk fury of the title track to the more dreamy shimmer of a song like “Shoegazer”, I felt like the band was being drawn in two different directions and could not fully commit to one. Such is certainly not the case with “Machines At Night”. Where the previous effort felt like a collection of random songs, “Machines At Night” feels like a true album in the classic sense of the term.

Every facet of this album is ten notches above and beyond its predecessor. The songs on this album meander from a delicate intro into an otherworldly crescendo while others just drift by in a dreamy pace all accompanied by soul-searching lyrics that reflect on those unrealized promises that life makes us and the broken ones that we make in turn everyday. Whether its on the aptly titled song, ‘This place doesn't have the balls to kill me’ where singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist F sings, “I’m looking good / but hurt to touch, I’m so alone / much too much, I’m feeling good / but sometimes ache, from those who love / but love to take” or on “Galaxies rearranging” where he softly serenades the lines “I can see me crushing under thoughts of what's to come / I wonder if I got a soul no one could ever want / I think of losing everything and living in the street / I think of how the bad I’ve done is closing in on me / and then I think of you / I think of you / and from the chaos comes something new”. Words like these bring a sincerity and depth to this album that you connect with immediately. Its personal but universal.

As good as the songs are themselves and the poetry of the lyrics, it is in the musicianship/instrumentation that the true accomplishment and beauty of this record really shine through the brightest. The Guitars sparkle, the Drums rumble, the Bass hypnotizes, Voices ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’, Tambourines shake, the Glockenspiel chimes, the Pedal Steel wails and the Theremin moans all over this album. What is even more impressive is to see someone take such an obscure instrument that possesses such a unique sound as the Theremin does and use it in a tastefully artistic and specific way as multi-instrumentalist F does on songs like “Galaxies rearranging” and “Waiting for the searchlights to come”.

Though alot of us may not be old enough to remember, there was such a time when music was not about bands having only one good song that you downloaded for 99 cents while the rest of the album was pretty much ignored. In this day and age of MP3 players and shuffled play lists, ‘Machines At Night’ stands in complete defiance of the idea that bands can’t create an album of 10 songs that are every bit just as good as the other and flow perfectly from one song to the next. From beginning to end, The Distortions have succeeded in evoking a larger and greater experience that having only one good song can’t even begin to compare with. It is for the lack of albums like this that the record industry’s sales are at an all-time low.

As equally haunting as it is calming, much of what you will hear on this album will sound familiar; though at the same time strike you as something you will not necessarily know how to categorize. It is that sense of hearing something that you’re so accustomed to feel so strange & foreign that summarizes not only what this album is about but also what makes it so good. The Distortions have truly stepped up with what can easily be considered one of the standout records of the year so far, and it stands to set them among some of their greatest peers like Doves & Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.


Records of Reference:

Beachwood Sparks – Once We Were Trees
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl
Doves – The Last Broadcast
The Verve – Storm In Heaven
(3/07)


Reviews


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sandrews


Melodically ethereal with hauntingly beautiful, dark undertones. This is an ABSOLUTELY STUNNING Album!!

Amber

Beautiful, awe-inspiring, dark and dreamy.
This album is breathtaking. When I listen to it, I can't help but feel more alive than I've ever been. It proves that there is music in absolutely everything that we do. This is a creative representation of the fact that there is so much more to our mundane lives than we realize.

I am impressed by every single song on here. Especially "Waiting for the Searchlights". It will make you want to throw up your arms and challenge the universe.

I haven't heard better since The Cure released "Faith" and The Jesus and Mary Chain released "Darklands". This album tops everything that was released in the past ten years. It's brilliant. Listen to it from beginning to end and completely surrender yourself to the music.

adam josef

Drinks are on F.....
Received Distortions cd today....currently spinning and filling the halls with opaque dream-pop jangle. This album is a masterpiece. Fans of classic shoegaze guitarscape gurus such as The Church, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Rain Parade, etc will not be disappointed. "Machines At Night" is not only a reverent nod to the forefathers of britpop/paisley underground, but also a refreshing and unpretentious futuristic avatar....exactly what I want to hear NOW.

Grotis

Bass speaker for red rock beer five!
Ragat!

Eyla T, Mexico City

F'in amazing
As a longtime fan of F I am currently and repeatedly getting the chills over this album, a gorgeously crafted and seamless piece of melodic and tingley sound moments, at once sexual, dreamy and melancholic yet howlingly energetic and full...... music to crank up and sing your voice out in the car or music to shed an inexplicable tear to in the quiet of the night while lying in bed (I've done both). Neither overly conceptual nor a blatant reference of sounds past, the Distortions seem to be having their way playing with fuzzy period tones while being original and sincere songwriters at the same time (and kicking ass with the wow-wow and trinkly-trankly instruments). The result is a journey with every listen. Anticipating a listening session is akin to the feeling of buckling up for a ride at Space Mountain as a kid; both are fast, whirling and emotional rides through electrical stars in the dark.

Full of joyful/sad juxtapositions, F's voice has such a cool tenderness and delicious vulnerability as he slowly takes his sweet time the whole album through. I find new layers with every listen and while every song is a world in itself, at least half are amazing! This Place Doesn't Have the Balls to Kill Me collapses my insides with happiness and sadness at the same time. I truly hope this album reaches ears hungry for goodness. F'in incredible!!!! a-a-a ahh aaahhh.....