Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Donkeys Found Born With Stripes

The DonkeysSometimes the myth gets wrapped up in reality. Such is the case with The Donkeys. Although the San Diego-based band released its second full-length CD on the Dead Oceans label in April 2011, the band had already had a brush with fame.

The original brush came under an assumed name, Geronimo Jackson — a mythical, Grateful Dead-like 1970s band frequently referenced on the TV show Lost. Lost producer Edward Kitsis heard The Donkeys and thought they’d be perfect as the fictional band.

At his behest, they rerecorded their song Excelsior Lady (as Dharma Lady) and the song made it into the annals of TV history (sort of) and Rock Band. They're even memorialized on a Lostpedia.

The fictional Geronimo Jackson is lost, but The Donkeys have been found.

Today, with Geronimo Jackson behind them, the band is looking to make their mark with their twangy, rootsy rock sound. Their new release, Born With Stripes, presents a baker’s dozen of tracks, including the bonus demo of Take You Up. Album art is by illustrator Tony Millionaire, creator of cool comics Maakies and Sock Monkey.

It's very 70s in a trippy, psychedelic imprint. The same can be said for the band's somewhat viewer neglected video on YouTube. (I was the tenth viewer.) But since that video can't be shared, check out this one.

Their label, Dead Oceans, has biographical material for the band that bills them just as cheekily. “We would love to be able to say that the Donkeys are simply four California beach bums who love to surf, drink cheap beer and jam as the sun sets over the Pacific.”
It's not all that off the mark. Half of the members do know how to surf. Their music does infuse country rock with a laid back 70s sound underscored by power hooks. If you had to make a comparison, they fall somewhere in the middle of Buffalo Springfield or the Byrds (later work), and Pavement or Beck.

What to expect from the tracks on Born With Stripes.

To make it all happen, band members Timothy DeNardo, Jessie Gulati, Anthony Lukens, and Sam Sprague teamed up with Thom Monahan (Pernice Brothers, Vetiver), who did the mixing to mostly good effect. Although the musicianship is spot on, don't be surprised if the lyrics falter in a few places.

While the video Don’t Know Who We Are is a warm and tasty jam, they do have some variety. Kaleidoscope is dreamy and meandering. I Like the Way You Walk amps it up a bit with a more alt rock sound. Ceiling Tan is laid back and rambling, but the lyrics reference a number of unsavory characters such as Sirhan Sirhan and Manson family member Susan Atkins. “Make you black and blue,” they sing in unison.

The Donkeys’ Born With Stripes Chimes In With A 5.1 On the Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Without question, The Donkeys have remained true to their laid back SoCal twang, but have managed to weave in a rootsier edge on Born With Stripes. It works. Even the instrumentals East Coast Raga and West Coast Raga have an appeal that most bands can only deliver live.

More than that, the band seems to genuinely enjoy interacting with their fans, which they do regularly on their Facebook page. You can find them there or on tour throughout the U.S., with stops in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. From there, they head to the Midwest and East Coast.

Born With Stripes by The Donkeys is on iTunes. You can also download Born With Stripes [Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version] [+Digital Booklet] from Amazon.
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