ALICE DONUT “Ten Glorious Animals”, 2009
Way back when, I remember buying at least one Alice Donut album because I would sometimes purchasing decisions were made based on a record labels output even if an album and band was a largely an unknown beast, there would still be a familiarity with the label. A number of punk rock gems were unearthed with the aid of disposable income from the SST and Alternative Tentacles roster. Alice Donut threw me for a loop though with their psychedelic punk as I was expecting the outfit’s punk rock to gnaw through to the insides with raw primal brain bludgeoning speed so their scattered direction wasn’t an instant fit.
A distinct Alice Donut sound has always been tough to nail down mainly because of the variety of styles the band cover. In the case of “Ten Glorious Animals” the reason is a distinct flavor has been watered down versions of various 80’s and 90’s “alternative” bands. “No more room” paints by numbers Jesus and Mary Chain and the black clothing is smeared a weak grey and the blame cannot be laid upon Scottish white powder. It’s impossible to listen to “Don’t I know” and not fight the temptation to yell, “Sonic Youth, you’re snapped”. The green-eyed monster is staring firmly at David Bowie in the final two original tracks. The creative well hasn’t completely dried up. The piano-dominated “Mrs Carradine” reaches and grabs with its Peter Murphy vocals. “Shiloh” stomps and kicks hellbilly country ass aiming and hitting dirt fair and square in the eye.
While there’s no complaint about overall listenability, Alice Donut’s imitation of past contemporaries is a large problem. This is an album that could have been made by a much less experienced band rather than a bunch of old hands. It’s impossible not to think that most of these songs were originally intended as B-sides and only heard by a few hardcore elite vinyl nerds.