There’s visible air between the notes San Diego’s The Donkeys put together. They leave space to see the music in their proper shapes and distinctions. And in doing so, there’s plenty of room for you, your custom whistles and perfectly on key falsettos. And you’d be singing along with celebrities too. When LOST producer Eddy Kitsis heard the band, “he cast them as Geronimo Jackson, a band he had written into the Lost story as an obscure San Francisco band from the 70s, who were peers of the Grateful Dead. Kitsis heard the Donkeys and felt they so embodied this fictitious band, that he actually had the band re-record their song “Excelsior Lady” as “Dharma Lady” and weaved it into the TV show.” On their new album Born With Stripes, they have absolutely nowhere to be, and so they linger, meander and acquaint themselves with ladies passing by, the reflection of the sun off the store fronts and each other’s sun spectacles.
And it’s a nice change for those of us that follow the code of the routine. “Ceiling Tan” takes us down an alley that looks dank from the sidewalk, but it holds some great hidden surprises. “Valerie” has some fantastic closed-eye, chin-to-chest guitar rides into the sky. I’m especially willing to hold hands with “Don’t Know Who We Are” and “I Like The Way You Walk”. They grab the best words out of life’s conversations and put ‘em down into lyrical pavement. Every step/drum beat lights up a thought to ponder. And if you enjoy musical nods to the Grateful Dead and Buffalo Springfield with touches of Pavement and Beck, there’s no shortage throughout their record. And nowhere better than on the title track, “Born With Stripes”.
Thank you Donkeys, for helping me fine-tune my upper vocal range. I’ll be singing along when I go to work. In my mind though, I’ll be glazing in the California sun.
(Born With Stripes is available now from Dead Oceans Records)