Formed in Rockville, Maryland in 2007, the new ‘cocktail rock’ band McTwist is off to a solid start with their debut record, “Amateur Hour”. They are not named after some sweet chocolate-vanilla confection available at McDonalds; McTwist refers to a skateboarding move first performed in the 80s by Mike McGill. But there is plenty of literal twisting evident in their music, as it is a hardy blend of many rock subgenres, including pop, alternative, punk/emo, and ska. Often, this kind of musical identity crises drives a listener insane, but kudos to McTwist for emerging from this sonic blender with a surprisingly distinct and identifiable sound of their own.
Despite the self-effacing name of the CD, the band sounds more seasoned and experienced than what you would expect for a bunch of enthusiastic “amateurs”. The passion for what they do leaps right out of the speakers with an energy that is usually felt only during a live performance. The vocals come across like a combination between Vinnie Dombroski (Sponge) and Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), sounding more than appropriate for this hodge-podge of different rock styles. The witty and sometimes amusing lyrics are also a cut above your average new band on the block. However, what does sound a tad amateurish is the lead guitar work, which merely stabs at the notes rather than creating a soulful flow between them.
Highlights for me include the feisty lead-off track, “Word Proof Vest”, the very catchy “Prizefighter”, and the fun sing-a-long jam, “Brianna”. Much of the other stuff is OK, just not as melodic or engaging as the standouts.
They remind me of bands like Sponge, Green Day, and For Squirrels – not just because the vocal tone is similar, but also because of the songwriting structure and their ability to mix multiple forms of rock into something that is still infectious and entertaining. While it has its flaws, “Amateur Hour” is a remarkable debut by a promising young band. I will be keeping my eye on these guys and can’t wait to hear what they do next.
iPOD-worthy: 1, 4, 7, 8, 11
McTwist on MySpace.