Thursday, July 17, 2014

Album Review: The Donkey's- Ride The Black Wave

The Donkey's
Ride The Black Wave
***and1/2 out of *****
On the first song, "Sunny Daze" off The Donkey's new album the question is posed "Should I stay in California/Should I move to France?" for a band that seems so rooted in the Southern Left Coast laid back sound you would imagine only pretension and grandiose thoughts would be following them to the south of France, thankfully there is little of either of those notions to be found on Ride The Black Wave.   

A collection of delightfully mixed up surf tracks, dream pop numbers and retro rock outings are complied to create this quirky disk. The four piece from San Diego get their "la-la-la's" out on "The Manx" just as easily as they shift gears to laid back groovy on "Nothing". The band seems to follow their own muse while it can make for a disjointed listen at times things just feel easy and never forced.

There is a lot of Pavement style song writing here and by twisting up the sounds (sitar on "Imperial Beach" steel guitar on the tiny gem "Brown Eyed Lady") the group while clearly influenced by lots of others still manages to sound fresh. Things aren't perfect, the title track tries to incorporate a lot of these styles (plus a new darker vibe) into a 3 minute song with some weak rhyming lyrics ("I've been up/I've been down/I was lost/ When I was found"), a misstep on a disk that doesn't have many.

There also are hints at something much larger behind the surface on tracks like "Blues In The Afternoon". This song while only a minute and forty four seconds hits a clear nerve positively leaving me guessing what the band could do if they stretched a tune like this out. The final track "Shines" ends things on the most radio friendly tip the band has displayed and while could work selling Volkswagen's it still manages to feel at home on this loose disk.     

Oh and going back to that first question asked in "Sunny Daze"? By the fourth song trickily titled "I Heart Alabama" we find out The Donkey's are staying in sunny Southern California, right where they belong. 
Fun disk. Support the band here, grab the album here and peep some video below:

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