The Donkeys

Midnight Palms

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The Midnight Palms EP is the fifth release by amiable San Diego indie rock outfit the Donkeys. Recorded in Los Angeles by longtime friend and co-conspirator Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver), this brief outing adds another five sun-soaked charmers to their growing canon of laid-back, slightly fuzzy West Coast rock. That it doesn't drastically break form or take a left turn from 2014's Ride the Black Wave LP shouldn't be held against it; the Donkeys' personality as a beachside brotherhood of gentle drifters is a big part of their charm. Lead single and album opener "Hurt Somebody" is a friendly organ-laced rocker whose reassuring message feels like a supportive hand on the shoulder. Buoyant jangle popper "Down the Line" thumps along with an easy bounce, catchy vocal refrain, and some nice acoustic guitar work from guest Donkey Steve Selvidge (the Hold Steady, Lucero). "Hold on to You" keeps up a similarly unhurried groove before giving way to the EP's two more pastoral tracks. The romantic and lushly appointed "Day by Day" has its roots in the Pacific balladry of the Beach Boys but with a bit more of the garage-edged soulfulness that the Donkeys are occasionally capable of. At four and half minutes, "Star Bird" is easily the most ambitious and psychedelic of Midnight Palms' tracks. Musically, the Donkeys tend to keep their structures fairly straightforward, using familiar chord changes but painting the canvas with their own palette of colors, and the dreamy "Star Bird" is a very nice bit of understated Californian psych-pop. With its feathery slide work and poetic themes of self-discovery and awakenings, it's the bird's-eye sound of the Pacific Coast Highway and a worthy outro to this strong little release.

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