Donoma - Falling Forward (2017)

Written by Montey Zike, posted by blog admin

Already making waves at the South by Southwest festival and playing shows with lauded acts such as Soul Asylum, Candlebox, Rusted Root and The Meat Puppets, Donoma have logged in more than 500 shows in their rather brief career.  This Wisconsin machine is a well-oiled unit of road dogs that additionally have two albums under their belt thanks to this latest release, Falling Forward.  Donoma are great companions to the experimental, 90s rock underground that included some of the best guitar driven music since the golden rock n’ roll revolution.  We haven’t had a movement like that in quite some time but this five-piece band reminds us that pockets of that creativity still exist in the USA. 

You get twelve tunes all told here and none of them are easy to pin down.  Sure you can pick out trace elements of blues in opener “Sick,” the violin-gussied “Jack in the Box,” the volcanic hard rock ash of “Memory,” or a “A New Shed of Colors’” nods to outlaw country and melodic, Bob Dylan-smattered folk, but for as many things that come off as “standards,” Donoma uses atonal, acerbic tones, unusual instruments and off-the-cuff vocal patterns to render even the most basic songs into something otherworldly.  This band may be from another planet; DNA tests pending. 

The strange “Deep Beneath the Woods” has a moonlit, after dark feel comparable to Hooverphonic if they were less inspired by new wave and 90s industrial; instead culling the drilling guitars and rhythmic oomph from the vintage hard rock era.  It’s dub for the people who couldn’t be bothered to touch it.  Then there’s the baroque, cymbal ghosted Las Vegas lounge groove of “He Loves Me Not,” which features an aggressive, sensually charged performance from vocalist Stephanie Vogt.  Riffs are hammered like railroad spikes on the fiery cover of “A Change is Gonna Come,” and original pieces “Unfortunate One” and “Otherside,” but gears a soon shifted for the acoustic dream-drone of curtain caller “Come with Me.”  The album could possibly benefit from a more unified theme as a cut like “Splinter” is almost so warped and distorted it could be on an 80s No Wave album, although you can never take too many points away from this band for throwing in the kitchen sink and running with it. Falling Forward is a diverse, line-blurring affair that will challenge even the most open-minded listeners.  It’s never content to just play by the numbers and for that it’s worth checking out even if you come out scratching your head more than a few times over the course of its duration.