How do you come to grips with what home is? For San Francisco-native Matt Jaffe, he had to leave the golden sun of Northern California for the East Coast to better understand California as a whole, from its idiosyncrasies to its dark noir. Jaffe’s journey to New England for college provided perspective to understand the darkness beneath the surface of California. He had a vision while in the frozen northeast about his sense of home while discovering California’s magnetic punk rock energy and haunting past, full of outsize characters from cinema and history itself. It’s the work of the prodigal son returning from his trip elsewhere for the first time, and finding home a bit different than when he first left. The 21-year-old and his band The Distractions will self-release their first full-length record ‘California’s Burning’ on March 3, 2017.
Jaffe’s debut collection of 12 tracks is filled with power pop and New Wave sounds, as well as a raucous, power chord-filled rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” which provides context for Jaffe’s style. Opening track “Love Is Just A Drug” sets the tone for ‘California’s Burning,’ trading in the bright portrait of San Francisco for its seedy underbelly, painting a picture filled with shadowy figures and punk rock attitude. “Hellhounds of Alcatraz” continues this theme, showing off Jaffe’s new songwriting inspiration in Guy Clark with the visceral anxiety of Alfred Hitchcock and Raymond Chandler. The storming “Fire On The Freeway” is filled with Jaffe’s rockabilly voice, ferocious guitar licks, and paranoid imagery.
“We wanted to make a record that sounds like the records we like. One that sounds like the music that turns us on. Buzzsaw guitars and whiplash drums. Dials at 11. Forget the polish and forget the shine. Nothing between us and your ears. California’s Burning, so come and join us right here in the hot seat,” says Jaffe of the new record.
Jaffe’s departure from the sun-soaked California coastline might not be evident with some of the ebullient instrumentation on ‘California’s Burning,’ but his clever lyricism represents a shift from the traditional glamor of The Golden State. Jaffe packed his bags from university and returned to immerse himself in the rich soil and history of California’s singers, songwriters, and artists with a darker, more introspective view of home. The record represents a creative awakening between two poles, and is a snapshot of its unique time and place, both referential and contemporary all at once.
Matt Jaffe & The Distractions will tour on the back of ‘California’s Burning’ in 2017, with more details to be announced.
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