David Donson by Summum Bonum (Review)

Set yourself the easier task of locating the only good British weirdo album of the “grunge” era.

Here’s a band that should have done things. I first saw them playing with National Heroes at Huddersfield University in Yorkshire of all places. They were fresh and noisy, but with a fliud, melodic streak that sounded like noone else around (although one guitarist was trying desperately to be Truman’s Water, the other David Gedge).

That twisted aesthetic comes across pretty well on this, their one and only album to date (yes, they are still around, but in a different form, I believe). ​“Last Waltz” and ​“Sniper” are pure jangle. The latter even includes guitar work by former ​“Weddoe,” Pete Solowka. ​“Belly” wants to be the song of the same name by Eric’s Trip and ​“Paul’s Instrument” is only comparable to the music on some smokey, neon, nouveau noir detective show from the ​‘80s. It’s actually the highlight of the album, what with its wailing sax and lilting piano/​guitar intricacy.

They gigged in London around the time of its release. I managed to catch their show at the Bull and Gate in Kentish town, again with National Heroes. It was practically empty apart from a few other muso types hanging around — for instance, Cali’s Further were mooching around, looking cool. After that, they vanished into obscurity, at least as far as releases and live shows go. I read on a label in a Deluxxe 7″ that they were going to release a split 7″ with the Sea and Cake on Lissy’s, but it never seemed to materialise (though I could be wrong).

There was one tape after the album on a homemade label called Chilli Dawg, put together by one of the guitarists. The tape label read ​“Nick” (I presume the same Nick who played guitar). It had lots of badly recorded, but wonderful demo material on it, notably the utterly suicidal ​“The Tragedy Of Life” and the fantastic up-beat screech of ​“Kill All Pigeons.” Actually the sound of a band starting to blossom. Aah…

So what happened to them? Well, I heard rumours, about two weeks ago in a pub in Leeds, that they’re still around. Apparently one of the guitarists (which one — who knows?) and his brother the drummer are still doing stuff together in some garage in nowheresville. So there’s hope yet. If you’re very very lucky, you may locate the Chilli Dawg tape. For now, though, set yourself the easier task of locating the only good British weirdo album of the ​“grunge” era.

Written by Niall Duquesne.