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The Perfect Buzz Buzz Buzz Guitar Distortion

Terry Lane - Friday 01.04.11, 11:26am

If you are a regular reader you will be aware there is a new wave of great bands referencing various indie pop groups from the early to mid 1980s.  This era was best captured by a free NME cassette called C86.

Scottish bands like The Pastels and The Jesus & Mary Chain influenced a generation of floppy fringes and sugar-coated pop songs that in many cases took their influence equally from 1960’s surf or garage pop and blended it with buzz-saw guitars and angst of 1970’s punk.

The Beach Boys are often cited as a main influence but merge that with the bubblegum punk pop of The Ramones and you have a recipe for bands like The Shop Assistants, The Pastels, Talulah Gosh and the early recordings of My Bloody Valentine and Primal Scream.

The Jesus & Mary Chain were similar in their influences and if you fight your way through the wall of noise, ingeniously created in the studio by layers of feedback, you will hear two or three minute pop songs more akin to The Beach Boys than the Sex Pistols or Velvet Underground.  Early Jesus & Mary Chain live performances were great.  Short performances awash with uncontrollable feedback and distortion, but with the release of their second album they had dropped the uncontrollable feedback and just kept the distorted buzz-saw guitar sound.

With the advent of technology it now appears obligatory for all guitarists, even unsigned local bands, to play live with a row of pedals helping them to change from one sound to another at the off/on click of a switch.  This is nothing new.  In the 1980’s I would use several pedals to alter the sound of my guitar including flanger and chorus.  But the right sounding buzz-saw distortion was effected by the volume of my amp.  But even that can now be remedied with the award-winning THD Hot Plate, the world’s most popular power attenuator. This clever little box lets you get your amp full of distortion at any volume.

Listening to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart I love that twee indie pop song sound with its constant buzz-saw guitar noise underbelly.  Travel back 25 years and you will hear that same gritty distorted guitar sound from The Shop Assistants; and 10 years further and you have The Ramones.

Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee may have left the building but the sound they created lives on!

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Tags: 1960s · 1970s · 1980s · Indie Pop · Music Equipment · Punk Rock


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1 comment so far

  • 1 Kev // Jul 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

    My goodness, I am now off to find my Shop Assistants 12 ” s- Cracking band still mighty fresh and just so damned good. Or am I being nostalgic………Nup that’d still get any music lovers toes tapping straight off. Now then where’s that Jasmine Minks/ Jesse Garron.

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