The Donnas

American Teenage Rock 'n' Roll Machine

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Chris Lee, the lead singer of a '70s-minded, AC/DC-influenced hard rock/metal band called Supagroup, had an excellent point when he asserted that even though there has been plenty of "rock music" in the '90s and 2000s, there hasn't been nearly as much rock & roll -- that party music (a big part of the '60s, '70s, and '80s) often takes a back seat to introspection in the post-Nevermind climate of alternative rock. In the '90s and 2000s, the Donnas have (like Supagroup) done their part to fill that void by providing trashy, decadent, punky, sex-crazed hard rock with a strong late-'70s/early-'80s influence -- and they've done it without the slightest trace of irony. American Teenage Rock & Roll Machine, the band's second full-length album, is far from groundbreaking; in fact, this 1998 release is consistently mindful of the hard rock that the Runaways were providing 22 years earlier (before the Donnas were even born). And while the Runaways were quite revolutionary for their time, the Donnas are merely derivative. But they're enjoyably derivative, and hedonistic tunes like "Speed Demon" and "Leather on Leather" offer something that wasn't terribly easy to find in 1998 -- dirty, beer-soaked, hooky rock & roll party music. There is nothing even remotely introspective about the Donnas, who thrive on the old-school sex/drugs/rock & roll clich├ęs of their parents' generation and sound like they're totally oblivious to post-grunge or emo. Although generally decent, this isn't their best release; on 2002's Spend the Night, the Donnas sound sharper, crisper, and more focused. Nonetheless, American Teenage Rock & Roll Machine has more ups than downs -- and again, the CD helped fill a void by demonstrating that in 1998, there was still a place for wild, reckless fun in the rock world.

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