Review: Notes on the Underground

Red Dons – Notes On The Underground 7″ (Grave Mistake)

Do you think that anyone has ever responded to the question “hey, you wanna write some punk songs?” with the answer “sure, do you mean songs that are four to five minutes in length?”? And yet the Red Dons are clearly a punk group, offering two lengthy tracks of moody melodic punk. It’s pretty good – I’m reminded of a depressed Marked Men, a bouncy No Hope For The Kids, or a pop-punk-infused Adverts as I spin these tunes. They get it pretty much right, from the well-sung vocals to the two-note “police siren” guitar solo that occurs over a moody, incessant bass-line. Clearly these songs took time to put together, and while that may fly in the face of punk’s other definitions, Red Dons are a good example of why rehearsal and forethought can occasionally work for a punk rock band. -Yellow Green Red

http://www.yellowgreenred.com/?p=7618

Review: Death to Idealism

Brazil_web_DTI_cover

This review from Reviewbiquity recently came to our attention. Either it was published years ago, or someone did extensive research on the band up until 2007. Either way, we appreciate Tyler Dane’s kind words and hope that he’s had a chance to hear our other records.

Red Dons – Death to Idealism (Deranged Records)

The Red Dons are a band born out of continuity. Though the Observers thrashed up the Oregon coast for a good part of the first half of the decade, by 2005 they were no more. Members split, new projects formed, and in the space that once was a regionally prominent but overall painfully undercelebrated punk band, there was a void.

The first layer of audio spackle to fill it came in the form of the Revisions, a radical acoustic departure from the gritty hardcore garage punk of frontman Douglas Burns’ the Observers that initially came together to play at a book reading of fellow Portlander and Clorox Girls vocalist Justin Mauer. However, without the punk bite to properly continue what the Observers had begun, the void was still left slightly exposed. Cue the inclusion of Mauer on guitar, the Revisions’ Hajjii Husayn and Rich Joachim, and a few thousand kilowatts of electricity to accompany the classically catchy yet unconventional songwriting of Burns, and the Red Dons emerged, signifying the perfect link between the slam dance-ready Observers and anything-goes-acoustic Revisions.

Without ever crossing into sugary pop-punk territory, the Red Dons put forth some of the catchiest punk rock you may ever hear. Okay, that much may be an overstatement, but keep in mind this is a band comprised of equal parts Observers, Clorox Girls and Revisions. But it’s more than just the melodies and songwriting that make the Red Dons so potent. It’s something those Pacific Northwesterners have mastered as evident in the Clorox Girls’ J’aimes les Filles and the Briefs’ Sex Objects and that is an album that’s not just a collection of good songs, but an amalgamation of all the elements of the art flawlessly united. While concept albums usually produce similar, but over-the-top results, the Red Dons achieve this much more subtly through visual and thematic aspects on down to a production value that is not necessarily low-budget, but intentionally creates a hallow, two-dimensional atmosphere that corresponds perfectly to the other elements of the record.

Though all outstanding, the track “Incomplete Action” seems to represent the paradigm of this effort to an absolute ‘T.’ Burns’ melodies are hauntingly catchy, even above experimental instrumentation that at one point near the 1:50 mark whirls about recklessly like the inside of a Kansas twister bound for Oz. The rise and fall chit-chat singing sounds agitated and preoccupied as he restlessly comes to terms with dying hopes. Another lively and unorthodox tune is the trenchant and varied “Independent,” which is quite literally almost half-comprised of machine-gun drum fills even as Burns is shouting out his chorus “Fascista! But thank you for the world you gave us / So what is the difference, man?” There are also more traditional numbers like the infectious wailing of “Walk Alone,” which borders on a surf feel and the not-as-catchy “This City” which seems a nod to `50s rock and roll styles with the metered rebel chronicle of a restive vagabond. The most amusing moment on Death to Idealism is the few verses in “Just Write, Romeo” when Burns appears to be channeling Joe Jack Talcum on one of his more snarky rants.

With members obligated to other, more central projects, it’s hard to get too optimistic about the future of the Red Dons. But even if this was to be their sole LP, it’s one that won’t be getting a rest from spinning well past dizziness anytime soon. -Tyler Dane

http://www.reviewbiquity.com/red-dons-death-to-idealism/

More Notes on Notes

Here are some kind worlds about Notes on the Underground from Razorcake.

RED DONS: Notes on the Underground: 7”
There are bands that are content to sit within a pigeonhole and there are bands that diligently push against the edges, rebelling against expectations to find a sound all their own. From the quasi-tribal drumming beginning the opening salvo here, “Cold Hearted,” Red Dons make it clear they aren’t content just fitting in. The tune, at its core a smart bit of minor chord pop, is rife with echoes of time past and present—a bit of post punk here, some garage there, drone, and the ubiquitous, insistent thud in the drums—rearranged and repurposed so that all are present but none overwhelms another. The remaining tunes follow along the same lines, each familiar yet retaining its own sound. The whole? A gritty-yet-tasty selection from a band that continues to wow with each successive release. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Mistake)

RED DONS: Notes on the Underground: 7”EP
I just want to put this on record. The Red Dons are one of the best punk bands on the planet. Why anyone who loves real-time punk (and world-class punk, since the birth of punk) is sleeping on them is a mystery. (Or they’re comfortable with their self-delusions/illusions.) I said the same about the Marked Men a decade ago, and although I’m pleased that the Marked Men are getting the recognition they so richly deserve, wouldn’t it be nice that another active band that doesn’t play any stupid corporate games and doesn’t fence walk with morality gets widespread support in real time? Is that too much to ask? This one’s at your feet, DIY punkers. Pick it up. Red Dons are punk giant nostalgia killers. For fuck’s sake, “Cold Hearted” is has a 4:50 run time, is lush, sweeping, epic, and defies expectation. All three songs on this 7” are stunners. –Todd Taylor (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com)

Razorcake reviews Ausländer

RAZORCAKE ISSUE #71
I’m of the opinion that Red Dons are the best band walking the planet today. I fuggin’ love this band! They have this way of making music that causes everything else around you to melt away and all that is left is the music. You are completely in that moment. It’s a great feeling. The songs soar, race, and have undeniable soul. Catchy without being corny. Insightful without being overwrought. Just fucking great music. The title track is godhead! I’ve listened to it over and over so many times, and have yet to tire of it. Is that even possible? It’s such a great song. A nice, quick tempo and the vocals float over, pulling you into the song, and the chorus burns into your mind. I like how the guitar comes in at the end and builds and closes out with a noisy swirl. The kind of song that makes you want to start a band and take over the world. On the B side is “Mauvaise Foi,” which slows down a little bit with a jerky and bouncy rhythm here and there. When the melody comes in, nothing else matters. I really like the line, “Anointed one, where did I go wrong,” as it leads into the verse. This single is a classic. –Matt Average (Dirtnap, dirtnaprecs.com)

https://soundcloud.com/hajjihusayn/red-dons-ausl-nder-mastered

Out Now: Ausländer / Mauvaise Foi

https://soundcloud.com/hajjihusayn/red-dons-ausl-nder-mastered

We released a new record today. Copies are available through Dirtnap Records. We will also have copies with us on our west coast tour next month. Here is how some folks describe the release.

[POST-PUNK POP] Red Dons’ moddish post-punk has never lacked for melody, but the Dons’ new Dirtnap Records 7-inch might be the Portland quartet’s most comely pop product yet. A-side “Auslander” comes within spitting distance of the five-minute mark without ever threatening to overstay its welcome, which is a rare feat. The anthem flies by in classic Adverts fashion, with punk fury mellowed by a helping of melancholic world-weariness; it’s one of those expansive love songs in which romance escapes the trite ties of pair-bonding and attaches itself to existential equations. Which is to say you don’t need to be in love to love “Auslander.” You need only be alive. – Willamette Week

“Red Dons at their most straightforward, melodic, and powerful. The A side in particular might be their best song yet. 2 new tracks, written in 2010-2011 between Chicago, Brazil, London, Portland, and Hamburg, recorded in Sweden in a cold war era bomb shelter during a 2011 European tour by Lars Ekman (Hanna Hirsch, Förmögenhet). Look for a west coast tour with The Estranged in September 2012. All copies come with download coupon. FIRST 200 ARE ON BLUE VINYL AND ARE AVAILABLE ONLY FROM GREEN NOISE RECORDS! Also available on black vinyl.” -Dirtnap Records