June 3rd will see the release of the new album by California-band The Donkeys. Ride The Black Wave is the band’s first venture with the new record label, Easy Sound, and presents a collection of songs perfect for a laid-back summer day.
Sunny Daze, the six-minute opening track of the album, introduces the musical direction of the album with it’s relaxed, almost lazy, vibe with the singer’s voice almost a whisper. The song finds the singer pondering over the possibility to leaving California as he is “stuck in a sunny daze.” On a couple of tracks, the band makes use of eastern instruments such as the tabla and the sitar. Nowhere is this more evident than in the instrumental song “Imperial Beach,” which features the sitar in a supreme fashion. Although the laid-back vibe of the album is present throughout, it really amplifies during the second half of the record, especially with songs like “Brown Eyed Lady” and “Blues in The Afternoon.” With simple and sweet guitar rhythms and Sam Sprague’s vocals, the songs are perfect for a laid-back sunny afternoon spent on the beach. No song better brings to life this vibe than the song “Bahamas,” which is a homage to the beach as you can hear the seagulls and the waves hit the shore while Sprague sings “Float out to the ocean, let it swallow me.” With such strong imagery, “Bahamas” perfectly captures the vibe of a perfect sunny day in San Diego, California for the listeners. The closing track “Shines” is an optimistic, cheery tune that encircles around the story of a new romance.
Although the album is an undeniably good record that features straightforward, easy-to-listen-to tracks, the lack of creative risk put the album at a disadvantage. Almost all the songs present familiar musical arrangements and although they are all pleasurable to listen to, there is nothing that really makes them stand out amongst similar songs released by other artists. This puts Ride The Black Wave at a risk for being forgetful. That being said, the artists behind the record are clearly talented and a little more risk-taking when it comes to musical expression could take them far.