They're not Scots, they're breezy slackers from Deeeeee-troit, Michigan, via Manchester's Melodic label.
Bonny Doon's mastery of restraint and melodically vulnerable songwriting comes into its own on their self-titled debut full length. Previous homespun EP releases introduced a band residing in an unusual territory between songcraft and atmosphere. This record ventures further down that path, but comes together with a disarming timelessness, making even the stranger moments feel familiar. Its essence is floating, folk-ish rock that summons the tossed-off grandeur of early Smog or the Silver Jews boombox tapes, and the dead-eyed poignancy of Neil Young’s gloriously unhinged Ditch Trilogy.
In Detroit, they have become a beloved experience, with three years of live sets that teeter between a gentle intimacy and almost transcendent looseness. And though it took three years, the band has finally succeeded in capturing the complete spirit of Bonny Doon, creating a breathing web of sound that feels equally sublime and accidental.
Songwriters Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo had been collaborating together low-key for a year and a half when they invited drummer Jake Kmiecik and bassist Joshua Brooks, both just 20 at the time, over to their studio space to flesh out some songs in early 2014. All four were active in Detroit’s fertile punk scene, playing at the time in Tyvek, Growwing Pains, and PRC.
The familiar approaches of punk did not feel right however, and the songs initially felt stiff and lifeless. It wasn’t until the four tried to play as quietly as possible, with songs shambling along like a car with wobbly wheels, that the band was born. Deconstructing their sound allowed the music to unravel into something open-ended and beautiful, making space for Lennox’s effortless and subtly smart lyricism. Natural progressions were embraced and Bonny Doon began playing shows around Detroit in the same loose and flowing manner as their sound was evolving.
When the time came to work on a full length, the same ethos of fluidity was applied. The band began tracking on a reel-to-reel tape machine with longtime friend and collaborator Fred Thomas (Polyvinyl Records, Saturday Looks Good To Me) at his studio in Ann Arbor, then spent months meticulously stitching together a finished work at their practice space in Detroit’s Russell Industrial Center and residences throughout the city. The end result is a glistening, sun-dazzled patchwork of deftly arranged pop melodicism, Echoplex-bathed country heartbreak, and fragments of wandering, blurry jams tying together the labored songs and less calculated strands.
A drunk-dial melts into the existential glow of a neon sign on “I See You” and the sun setting on expectations feels more like a coastline daydream woven through the flanged guitar leads of “Relieved”. A sense of geographical longing shows up often, as with the long-distance melancholy of "What Time Is It In Portland", one of Colombo’s two vocal contributions, and one of the best examples of Bonny Doon's ability to cloak crushingly sad sentiments with deceptively nonchalant hooks.
Though mostly lifelong Detroiters, Bonny Doon represent a nearly direct counterpoint to the common narratives of the city they’re rooted in. Musically, they live completely outside of the accepted lineage of hard-knock punk or garage rock, and aesthetically, they reject the tired and often problematic imagery of post-industrial ruin, romanticized emptiness, and tragically shallow hope porn that gets used to sell the Detroit brand.
Bonny Doon instead opts for defiantly chill ways of being; visual motifs celebrating beach life, ice cream and simplistic joys. The real irony comes in complex layers, however, as they hide their saddest sentiments under the most stoned, seemingly spontaneous jams. And while there is sometimes darkness under a hazy veneer, the album is guided by an overarching sense that feeling is winning out over logic and things are coming together imperfectly, partially, and exactly as they should.
1. Relieved - 03:22
2. Summertime Friends - 03:06
3. What Time Is It In Portland? - 03:52
4. Lost My Way - 04:44
5. I See You - 04:22
6. (You Can't Hide) - 00:58
7. You Can't Hide - 02:59
8. Never Been To California - 02:52
9. Maine Vision - 00:59
10. Evening All Day Long - 03:25
11. (Crowded) - 04:58
- About Drift
We offer free delivery on orders of £50 and over, sent within mainland UK. To qualify for free delivery, your order will be sent as one dispatch. If your order includes items that are not in stock at the point of ordering, specifically preorder items, then please expect to wait until all items are available to ship as one delivery. If you are waiting for a box to ship, you are most welcome to add more items ('top up') to your box, up to the point we ship it to you.
Click & Collect
On all orders, we offer a Click & Collect option to avoid unnecessary carriage if you feel like coming and seeing us at the shop in Totnes. Click the Pick up at Drift button during the checkout and you will bypass all shipping during payment.
• If you purchase a pre-order item amongst an order of in-stock releases, we will typically hold your box until all items are in stock.
• If you are 'topping up' an order, we advise you contact us when placing the additional order to make sure we notice.
• We aim to dispatch orders placed before 11am on the same day.
• We ship all UK orders with Royal Mail and DPD Local.
• We ship outside the UK with DHL.
• We are unable to ship orders on Sundays or Bank Holidays.
• Although we use all reasonable means to ensure that your order is delivered within a specified time, we cannot accept any responsibility for late deliveries due to circumstances outside of our control. We will do our best to inform you of any unexpected delay.
If you have any questions about shipping or delivery, get in touch.
Come meet us, or have us ship you something in the post.