DONOVAN’S BRAIN – Fire Printing

Career 2024

Fire Printing

Bozeman ensemble emerge from the verge of tragedy to reinvent their jangly reveries.

It took this collective a couple of years to recover from the loss of three core members and celebrate the group’s thirtieth anniversary by displaying new verve and new nerve. The induction of Joe Adragna into the ranks gave the band nit only a high-energy drummer, dividing his duties here with the dearly departed Ric Parnell, but also another songwriting force for the team’s leader Ron Sanchez to reckon with – or, rather, someone with whom to share creative space. The result of their fresh approach is an album that’s simultaneously distinctly different from "Faith In Failure" and that still logically follows in its wake.

Of course, the ensemble’s faithful listener might be tempted to perceive such continuation in the piano-laced, spectral lament of “Hey Bobby!” which addresses the late Mr. Sutliff whomformer colleagues paid tribute to on his posthumous solo offering, or in the vibrant “Ghosts” which provides the band with an anthem they have been desperately in need of, yet in fact, it’s all in the flow of these fifteen pieces that flaunt fluctuating psychedelic passages in three mood-defined movements. From Denis Tek’s soaring guitar solos on dreamy opener “Paper Pilots Pushing” where pulse and misty sonics mix to a great effect to launch the “Nobody Does That Anymore” suite, to the wall of noise on “The Drumshanbo” where prog and garage rock rub epauleted shoulders to bring the “If You Can Find The Way” chapter to a close, and on many points between these two extremes, on the “Adjust The Vertical Hold” part and beyond, there’s not a single moment wasted on woe.

As vocals are passed around from Sanchez to Adragna to Scotts McCaughey and Sutherland, even when the blues-tinged “Scram The Reactor” pretends to dwell in wishing well of pop sadness, or “An Echo Of Apology” expands into a spaced-out epic, optimistic messages prevail here. Once the acoustically driven “Unreal” and the shoegaze-symphonic “Sunset Heart” unfold into a series of infectious phrases, contrasting “Stranger In The Light Of Day” that introduced a lysergic dirge to the platter’s palette and “How To Leave Connecticut” with its Appalachian sway, enjoying the sparkling swirl of “Mirror Pieces” and the glittery balladry of the strings-drenched “Stay Strong” is easy, while the raga-spiced “Stinging” and madrigal-like “Spent All Her Time” feel fantastic too, despite carrying just a little melodic variety. So when “Head Hit The Table Hard” comes on with otherworldly panache, the smiles are guaranteed to light the room – meaning DB have entered the next era of their existence with flying colors.


April 25, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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