by Joe Gutierrez
The latest offering from freak pop folk rock label Woodsist is a delicious slab of sunshine by Detroit’s Bonny Doon. Supremely mellow, it’s got that feel of floating on your back in a swimming pool, squinting smiley at the bright light. Drum fills cascade like bags of marbles spilling out onto sidewalks. Basslines are plump and boisterous, chugging along like quickening pulses post-epiphany. Guitar noodling hits swift like a crisp breeze, riffs initiating goosebumps galore. Longwave is a steady hike through the desert, filling up your pockets with rocks and stones for friends along the way.
The record kicks off with its title track, a relaxed simmer of a song creeping into your ears like light peeking through a slit in the curtains. Vocals are delivered with certainty and serenity, seasoned with glowing higher harmonies. Common threads running throughout Longwave are feelings of listlessness, lack of direction, questioning identity, jumbled hope, and dreams out of reach- stuff myself and more than a few of my peers struggle with on the daily. However, Bonny Doon’s strength is in quelling those doubts, blowing away the fear with lines like “you are who you’re supposed to be,” right before lunging into an all out aural embrace of the Everything, spinning in circles with arms outstretched to the universe. “A Lotta Things” starts with a stark acoustic guitar climb and swirl, before building up toward a trip through one’s inner battle with accepting gratitude and happiness. “Saw A Light” breathes magic later on, surely one of the record’s highlights. Honey-dripped breeze, carousel of sound, tiptoeing across a log over a ravine. It beautifully rips off the Rolling Stones jam “Wild Horses,” resorting to borrowing “an old one” when dismayed with one’s own creative progress, keeping up with that curse of self-doubt. Bonny Doon pull it off wonderfully, a stunning tribute and mantra all in one.
Longwave closes with a weird exit music, a brilliantly lazy dirge, a slow-motion stooped over hands-in-pockets traipse up the stairs and back into bed. Bonny Doon aren’t doing anything to change the game any way, and that’s okay with me. This record serves up the musical equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich and hot bowl of tomato soup. It’s comfort food. It’s your buddy tellin’ ya, “hey, I’ve been there, too.” And just like the record cover’s depiction of looking out upon the wilderness from a room, Longwave helps the listener affirm that despite feeling stranded, stuck, or contained, out there’s full of rich and vital opportunity for life and love.