Click here to return to home!  

Luck of the Draw: The Vandals, The Distraction, Repo! The Genetic Opera

By Lucky DiPalma


Thank god for the 405. Or perhaps I should say: my editors need to thank god for the 405. You see, if it weren’t for the 405 freeway, that unwavering bastion of non-stop So Cal stoppedness, I would probably never get around to doing any album reviews. But luckily for my editors, I drive/crawl an average of 80 miles a day on the damn thing. Some days, if I’m feeling particularly antsy, I’ll venture off onto the side streets. Although they don’t really cut that much time off of the drive, it at least gives my brain the illusion that I’m going somewhat faster, because it’s preoccupied with doing much more interesting things, like, um…turning.

But on a day like today, when my brain’s kinda tired and I don’t really have anywhere to be anytime soon, I resign myself to crawling along the 405 with the rest of the commuting masses and just let my brain zone out. And this – this is the moment my editors have been waiting for – nay, ever so kindly begging for in their polite but firm email (or two or three) about that pile of cd’s they gave me, uh….well, a while ago. For at this moment, I finally turn to my grab bag of cd’s and say to myself: “<Sigh>Well. Lessee what we got in here.”

And today, this is what I found:

The VandalsThe Vandals : Internet Dating Superstuds
(Kung Fu Records)

This is The Vandals, like, umpteenth album. Ok, maybe only number nine or ten, but at that point, you might be expecting something decent. Unfortunately, it really isn’t too hot. While I’m sure there’s a pile of execs out there in the creative departments of some advertising firms just itching to get their fingers on about thirty seconds of these for use in, say, a soft drink commercial that airs during the X Games (with the lyrics dubbed out, of course), that’s about as interesting as it gets. It’s all very “clean” sounding and somewhat formulaic. The really only entertaining parts are the neat-o graphics on the cover art supplies by the folks at Paul Frank Industries, and a song called “The Unseen Tears of the Albacore”, which sounds an awful lot like Bad Religion’s “American Jesus”, except that it’s about a fish.


The DistractionThe Distraction : Calling All Radios
(Dirtnap Records)

A great album for zoning out to while stuck on the freeway, although I’m sure it probably also sounds good when you’re going more than 8 mph, especially if it’s a sunny afternoon, you’ve got a carload of friends, and your headed somewhere fun. This is The Distraction's 1st full-length album and it’s really quite good. All of the songs sound very similar, in a snotty, distorted punk kinda way. Although that’s usually the kiss o’ death for an album, in this case it works because they all sound like one really good song and it doesn’t get dull at all. I imagine this may also be due to the fact that the entire album is less than 30 minutes in length, which is a boon to the ADD generation.

Repo! The Genetic OperaRepo! The Genetic Opera
Written by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich

At first, I was a bit loathe to pop in Repo! because it’s an ‘Original Cast Recording of…..’ sort of thing, and we all know how dull that can be. Smith and Zudnik have been doing 10-minute rock operettas about LA for some time now, and this is their first foray into a full-length theatrical production. The basic premise is that in the not-too-distant-future, a large percentage of the earth’s population falls pretty to a disease that causes multiple organ failure. Capitalizing on this, companies pop up the supply organs on credit to those who are suffering. This all sounds like a pretty decent idea until Congress passes legislation that declares “financed organs are subject to all legal default remedies, including repossession.” Well, you can imagine where this leads! The stage version, unlike the CD, comes complete with gobs of fake blood and guts at the hands of the organ repo man (wouldn’t that have been a lovely surprise to find a bit of entrails in the packaging?) There are also grave robbers (where do you think the organs come from?) and cyborgs. Oooooo. The album itself is rather brief – perhaps as a small reminder of a delightfully gory evening at the theatre or maybe a teaser of sorts, enticing the listener into catching the live show. And so it does, especially with sordid little ditties like “Come Up and Try My New Parts”. Not a CD that will find regular rotation in the collection, but interesting enough to those of us with sick sick little imaginations.

At any rate, I’m glad it is rather short, because traffic is finally moving and I’m ready to get the hell out of the car!

Come and discuss this article at the Message Board!