The Donkeys Midnight Palms EP on Limited Edition Colored 45RPM 12" Vinyl + Download
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An elusive, intuitive musical hive-mindedness informs every note the acclaimed San Diego quartet The Donkeys ever play, live or on record, but is especially present on Midnight Palms, their new five-track mini-album due for release in February 2016 on Easy Sound. Tracked largely live-in-the-studio with veteran producer, longtime friend, and fellow traveler Thom Monahan (Vetiver, Fruit Bats, Devendra Banhart), Midnight Palms oozes with the sticky, syrupy energy of a band fresh off the road and in rare form. Recorded as it was at the end of one of the band's blitzkrieg road runs, the collection's lived-in live feel should surprise few.
The core founding trio of Tim Denardo, Anthony Lukens, and Sam Sprague drive the proceedings. Drummer Sprague alternately sets a lock-step driving pace, as on album opener "Hurt Somebody," a bouncy girl-group groove ("Day by Day"), or a lazy gallop, as on the languid "Star Bird," which the drummer also sings. Meanwhile, bassist Denardo falls easily into any of those pockets, and takes his own lead vocal turn on "Down the Line," a dusty roots-pop tune as laid back as the men playing it. Lukens, of course, provides the by turns warm, slippery, punchy and liquid keyboard lines that are the album's bedrock, while lending his direct, earnest vocals to three of the album's five tunes.
The fourth Donkey on Midnight Palms is The Hold Steady's Steve Selvidge, stepping in after the (amicable) departure of long-time guitarist Jesse Gulati. His pointed, tasteful leads are peppered throughout Midnight Palms, most notably on the searing "Hold On To You." In all, the Donkeys have crafted in the Midnight Palms mini album a fine, half-sized document of their singular sound. At once accessible, adventurous, nostalgic, and progressive, it can only be The Donkeys.