CD Review: The Donkeys — Born with Stripes; Playing DC9, May 29

The Donkeys
Born with Stripes
Dead Oceans

By Al Kaufman

While the 2008 debut from this San Diego quartet, Living on the Other Side, was a bit of a twangfest, The Donkey found their inner ’70s jam band for their sophomore release, Born with Stripes.

Much of the CD takes on a mystical, Doors-ish quality, most notably on “Kaleidoscope” and “New Blue Stockings.” But The Donkeys incorporate much more into their music. “Don’t Know Who We Are” is a smooth and sexy ballad in the U2 vein. “I Like the Way You Walk” is a fine piece of ’90s pop that recalls a less jarring, more melodic J Mascis. They get swampy and bluesy (and ultimately trippy) with “Bloodhound,” only to offer up a bright, Mersey beat sound on the too short “Born with Stripes.”

And things only get more interesting. The instrumental, “West Coast Raga” is a sitar-based number with bits of honky-tonk thrown in. Sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it fits like peanut butter and jelly. “Ceiling Tan” has a sort of Wilco-type shuffle to it, before it gives way to a big ’70s-style jam band instrumental. The CD finishes up with some organ-centered pop that would make the Doors’ Ray Manzarek smile.

The Donkeys are dreamy and psychedelic, but are not content to remain in a cannabis-induced haze. Born with Stripes can be just as easily enjoyed stone cold sober.

The Donkeys play DC9 in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 29.

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