TNK Spotlight: The Donkeys

No one should be surprised to find out the sleepy melodies and bouncy dream pop of The Donkeys derive from the picture perfect yet timeless lands of San Diego, California. After all, it’s the state that carved the sunny soundtracks to The Beach Boys, the sprawling emotions of The Grateful Dead, and the raging psychedelia of Jefferson Airplane. Forty something years later, the thirty-first state to be entered into the United States is still influencing modern and future youth.

Location, location, location might be the mantra for real estate agents everywhere, but one could argue that might apply for the San Diego quartet as well. With a sound that Spin Magazine declares, “pure slack-jawed bliss” and an act that’s “a tripped-out take on truck-stop lovers rock”, the Donkeys have committed themselves to their hometown flavor, tipping their proverbial musical hats to the ’60s bands of late (especially those aforementioned). So, how about a brief history lesson?

After the band hit the scene with their eponymous debut in ’06, the Donkeys stirred up enough of a racket to land a record deal on Dead Oceans, home of Bishop Allen and similar act, The Explorers Club. It was on this label that the band stretched their legs, explored the studio some and released their sophomoric follow up, last year’s Living on the Other Side. The album turned out some intriguing press, including some fair weather nods from the likes of Pitchfork Media, who noted its cultural throwbacks as “impeccable” with “each element precisely and no doubt lovingly placed.” Of course, there’s a reason for this…

Songs like “Pretty Thing” or “Dolphin Center” stumble about with a folksy yet laid back swagger that’s accessible enough for even those that might typically dislike the genre. Why? There’s a lot going on. Between the piano scales, the bluesy guitar licks, and the mellow crooning of Sam Sprague, who plays drums as well, there’s plenty to indulge. One might even say it’s perfect music to lose yourself in, either on the lone beaches during spring or throughout the floaty seasonal pushes of autumn. To summarize, it’s all just really pretty.

Okay, what now? For the past few months, the band has been busy pushing the new record, taking the new tunes on the road, and scouring America for new fans (that’s where you come in, folks). With ’08 behind ’em, 2009 is just as big for the West Coast moodmakers, so be sure to snag ’em before they’re too high up on stage. Need a suggestion? Are you in Chicago? How about checking out their Sunday slot at Schuba’s Tomorrow Never Knows Festival?

Check Out:

The Donkeys 2009 Tour Dates:
01/10 – Albequerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
01/12 – Dallas, TX @ The Lounge
01/13 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
01/14 – New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar
01/15 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
01/16 – Rock Island, IL @ Ribco Room
01/18 – Chicago, IL @ Tomorrow Never Knows
01/21 – Denver, CO @ Hi Dive


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