Dylan Donkin used to be in a band called Echobrain with ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newstead. But don’t let that fool you into second-guessing what he sounds like. In fact, listening to new EP Food For Thoughtlessness it’s possible that Mr Donkin himself isn’t exactly sure what his sound is. But first a bit of post-Echobrain history:
After the band were caught up in a lawsuit with rival band called Echodrain (who’d have thought a band called Echodrain would have lawyers?), Donkin decided to do one and headed to Hawaii, where most admirably he developed a music teaching programme to help parents and children interact musically. And it’s that sort of optimism, coupled with an inevitable laidback Island vibe, that runs through the 6 songs.
It’s a few stadium sizes away from metal monsters Metallica, but this isn‘t just one surf dude and his guitar a la Jack Johnson. Like Alec Guinness playing 8 members of the same family in Ealing classic Kind Hearts and Coronets or Eddie Murphy playing fat clan The Klumps in Hollywood film: Nutty Proffesor 2, the 6 songs that make up this EP may share the same mellow genetics, but are varied enough to showcase the considerable talents of Mr Donkin.
In mood, it’s a record of two halves (or 'sides'). Single Make a Choice is effortlessly upbeat in a hazy lazy kind of way. You can almost hear the Hawaiian tide breaking on the shore, as a slide guitar works its way over simple bass lines and gentle brushwork on the drums on Diatom Blues and what’s not to like about putting handclaps in a song called Depression Yesterdays. For the second half Donkin, ever sensitive, gets a bit darker. Fall Through The Wall and its slightly reverbed vocal recall Jim James or Neil Young. Instumental The Commonaut is probably the most interesting, a talented yet troubled piano, drunk and misunderstood, wails at the world as a quiet lead quitar agrees and a small choir commentates. And finally, Yolk bids farewell like a slightly more positive unplugged Kurt Cobain.
It will be interesting to see how Donkin pulls this altogether on a full-length album; will it sound like an album rather than simply a collection of (very good) songs? Until we find out, the Food For Thoughtlessness EP is an intriguing and excellent appetizer, whetting the appetite for the main course to come.