Posts Tagged ‘bonny doon’

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Given their name, you might expect Bonny Doon to be a California band that smokes a lot of weed and stays in the garage writing Dick Dale rip-offs. But on the contrary, they’re from Detroit, and are behind one of the smartest and most poetic records of the year (not sure how much weed they smoke, though). Detroit does kind of make sense, anyway, as the Malkmus/Berman vibes of their debut album Longwave mostly fall in line with a working-class town sensibility—Bobby Colombo and Bill Lennox’s shrugged lyrics are distinctly grounded in their casual interest in comprehending the absurdity of existence, even if they know you can’t really crack that topic while simultaneously working a nine-to-five.


Bonny Doon Share Pastoral Video for Their <i>Longwave</i> Title Track

Breezy Detroit rockers Bonny Doon, who will release their second full-length, Longwave, on March 23rd, make the sort of effortless, lo-fi indie that both you and your dad can love.

For their second full-length (and debut on Woodsist Records), the Detroit folk-rock quartet stopped thinking too much and just went to the beach instead. Last month, we dug their earnest “A Lotta Things” single, and now they’re sharing a pastoral new video for their record’s title track. When Bonny Doon began sketching out a strategy to follow up their self-titled debut, they knew they wanted to do things differently. “I think everything’s always a reaction to how you did it the last time and what’s exciting you at the moment,” says Bobby Colombo, who splits vocal and guitar duties in the band with Bill Lennox. While their first record was a strong arrival, Colombo and Lennox characterize its creation as long and arduous. So the band snuck away from their native Detroit and rented a house on the beach in Northern Michigan, recording their next album in just five days, aiming for a looser, more instinct-driven process. “We were just thinking, ‘First thought, best thought’ with this one,” Colombo explains.

The result is Longwave, an album Bonny Doon might still have made if they weren’t holed up on a beach house, but probably not. Delicate and contemplative, the ten new songs feel very much like a product of their recording process—while Bonny Doon weren’t necessarily intent on tearing up the playbook, this record is still a totally different beast from its predecessor. Longwave embraces the stylings of Bonny Doon folk rock with some alt-country sprinklings but the band’s more spontaneous approach lends it a scrappiness that feels fresh. Rather than rein these songs in to the point of suffocation, the band allows them to breathe, rambling and untangling themselves in unexpected ways.

The homemade, found-footage vibe of “Long Wave” is rustic, charming, and the perfect visual accompaniment for the track’s calming influence. BRB, finding a hilltop in nature to roll down this weekend. in fact, Bonny Doon sound like they’re gunning to be spiritual successors to Silver Jews and Neil Young, with a pinch of Summerteeth-era Wilco thrown in. It’s because of this mood that the record never comes across as overly self-serious. The title track, which opens the album, ends in a knowing refrain, zen-like in its conviction: “You are who you’re supposed to be.” It’s delivered with the confidence of a band that believes it, and is comfortable enough in their skin to act accordingly.

The paradigm of live music is so old and stagnant, Colombo laments. “We’re interested in and would like to figure out ways to push us further… We have sort of an unhinged live show sometimes. We play the songs almost like they’re falling apart, but they never really do.” Bonny Doon’s Longwave is out March 23 via Woodsist.

The Band:

Bobby Colombo (guitar/vocals), Bill Lennox (guitar/vocals), Joshua Brooks (bass), and Jake Kmiecik (drums)

Bonny Doon’s Longwave is out March 23rd via Woodsist Records.

Arriving in the early months of 2017, Bonny Doon’s self-titled debut was a warm introduction to the Detroit quartet for many. Hazy and bright, the album’s woozy melodies and swirling webs of summery guitar textures were easily ingested as low-key slacker pop, blissfully awash in lo-fi sensibilities and dreamy ambiance. But the nonchalant breeziness belied a serious attention to songcraft that beckoned careful listening, and hinted at depths yet unexplored. Lo and behold, before the ink was even dry on the first record, work had already begun on its follow-up “Longwave,” a conscious about-face from the sonic experimentation of the first album, and a journey inward.

Opting for spontaneity and simplicity over the exploration of layers and textures that defined the first record, the band architected an incredibly intimate sound for these new songs. The album was tracked with minimal overdubs or production flourishes, constructing a frame that is spare and understated. The songs on Longwave amble through moonlit fields of melancholy guitar leads and self-reflection, the collection unfolding almost as one uninterrupted conversation with self. The session aimed to capture the band at their essence. With the superfluous stripped away, a gentle but steadfast spiritual core is revealed as the backbone of Bonny Doon’s cosmic American music


Bill Lennox- vocals and guitar
Bobby Colombo- vocals and guitar
Jake Kmiecik- drums
Joshua Brooks- bass

Released March 23rd, 2018

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Bonny Doon leaped into the conscious of many early last year, with the release of their subtle and beautiful debut album. The Michigan quartet impressed with their hazy melodies and sonic exploration, yet they were already thinking about what would be next. The answer will come next month, with the release of their second album, “Longwave”, described the band as, “a conscious about-face…and a journey inward”.

This week Bonny Doon have shared the second snapshot of Longwave, in the shape of new single A Lotta Things. The track showcases the band’s change of musical direction, gone are the rich sonic textures, and to the fore is letting the songwriting speak for itself. The track is a stripped back, and subtle affair, just entwined guitar-lines, a steady pulsing drum beat and an unprocessed, gorgeously honest vocal line. There’s a touch of Ultimate Painting to the shuffling churn of the guitar lines, while the vocal has all the easy charm of A. Savage or Kevin Morby. It’s a brave move to follow a successful debut by ripping up the rule book and creating something entirely different, yet by the sound of this Bonny Doon were absolutely right to do so.


Longwave, improves on the homespun charm that made their debut so inviting. The leap is partially due to the fact that the band is more confident now as their debut’s songs were just the first songs Lennox ever wrote, but as Lennox explains it also comes from a more cohesive vision. He says, “The whole goal of this new album was to try and capture the band’s sound at its essence with everything stripped down and vulnerable. We were trying to just capture the sound of the band in a room. We were happy to just kind of bear more of ourselves and be more open.”

Written of over the course of a trip to a lake house in Northern Michigan, and recorded at Key Club Studios downstate, the mesmerizing songs on Longwave are patient enough to ruminate on a musical idea without meandering. It’s this lack of urgency that has given the band the lyrical space to perfectly capture twenty-something malaise. Though the previously shared single “I Am Here (I Am Alive)” found Lennox frustrated, “Is there something missing I can’t tell / Is there more I can’t see,” Bonny Doon’s latest, “A Lotta Things,”.

Longwave is out March 23rd via Woodsist Records.



Listening to Bonny Doon’s self titled debut album “Bonny Doon” feels like something akin to sitting on a porch swing in the heat of the summertime, watching your neighbours strike up the barbecue, as the late-night sun sets behind houses. Or something like that. What I’m saying is that it’s a good time. Ambling, tender, weird, nice, real listen.

The band Bill Lennox, Bobby Colombo, Joshua Brooks, and Jake Kmiecik took some time to put together a track-by-track of the record, which is out via Spunk Records.

1. “Relieved”

Bill: Wasn’t sure if this one was just a humdrum strummer when I wrote it but I remember playing it for my friend while she was on LSD before I ever brought it to the band. She has the best taste in music so when she said she liked it I was pretty stoked. At the time I was living with people who collected lava lamps so I turned them all on and turned all the other lights off in the house and we listened to Slowdive most of the night. Hopefully that neon glow comes through in the album version.

Jake: The lyrics of this song and the warmth of the instrumentation always make me think fondly of the way time passes and the friendships this band has formed, and how there’s beauty and comfort in that.

2. “Summertime Friends”

Josh: This is a song that we’ve played five or more different ways, and recorded three times now. It’s been an up-tempo punk jam, it’s been really sparse, stoned and warped with everything being run through an echoplex, and here we do it in pretty straight forward style and just try to have fun with it. I think it was one the last songs we tracked for this record. Our friend Fred Thomas, who engineered a lot of the record, plays drums on it and Jake slid over to piano. It had previously appeared on a tape with a slow and dreamy quality, but Fred suggested we try it like this and we did it a few times and that was it. It has kind of a gang vocal quality because we just did them live in the room.

3. “What Time Is It in Portland?”

Bobby: A hokey question as a starting point for a spiraling ramble about change, this song seems kind of indulgent upon reflection. And maybe also because it frames it like something that happens all around me while I comfortably play the role of static observer. That’s not really how change works, but it can feel that way and it’s tempting to cast it like that. I am really happy with how this version came together. I wrote it before we started the band and it was one of the songs we tried out when Bill convinced me that I should also sing. Originally he was the only singer. We always called the guitar breaks Jimmy Buffett leads, though I don’t know his music well enough to know if that’s apt or wishful thinking.

4. “Lost My Way”

Bill: We all played in punk bands before we started this band so a large part of how we approach music is informed by that. We still kind of consider ourselves a punk band in many ways and this song is an example of how it is hard to let that go. One time we got too stoned and decided we’d play it half speed at a show, not sure how it was received. I really love the extended jam at the end. We play it different every time now but I’m happy with the way this version was captured. We were listening to a lot of krautrock at the time and Bobby and I saw Faust play around the time we recorded this. The singer kept reprimanding the audience for looking at their phones while they were playing and they had a guy playing a giant oil can as a drum pretty much the whole set. It was great.

5. “I See You”

Bill: This song was a roadmap for us in a lot of ways in that it helped us begin to find our voice. It was the first real song I ever wrote and when we played it together it just felt natural and like we all understood the feel and vibe of it. It was the first song we played at our first show. It’s on our first 7″ and it’s the first single on this record.

6. “(you can’t hide)”

Bobby: A lot of songs on this record were approached and recorded multiple different ways, and this is just a fragment of a different arrangement of “You Can’t Hide,” as captured by a blown out room mic. There is maybe a strange logic to including unfinished instrumentals filtered through clipping room mics when we had so many songs to choose from (we probably recorded about 25 for this record), but I think of them as little windows into the process and I think there’s beauty in those moments of unpolished spontaneity.


7. “You Can’t Hide”

Josh: Bobby and I spent countless hours processing things through an echoplex on this record. That tape echo was a huge part of our sound and process for experimenting with songs during tracking and mixing. This one has the echoplex oscillating wildly over the whole track, as well as processing both guitars and the drums. A lot of things we do maybe don’t make the most sense but we are all about trying to get emotional impact out of our songs, however that happens.

8. “Never Been to California”

Jake: This song, at least at the time of writing and recording, felt very reflective of Bill’s songwriting process. It deals a lot with a sense of place and ruminations on where one resides, both physically and spiritually. The “blue bridge” mentioned in the first verse is a reference to the Ambassador Bridge which can be seen from the house Bill and I lived in at the time. It connects Detroit and Windsor, Canada. This song was also an exercise in a more country-esque side of our sound, a taste that brought the four of us together in a unique way.

9. “Maine Vision”

Josh: This one came as a vision in Maine, while we were standing on a rock overlooking an inland bay of the Atlantic. The melody just popped in Bill’s head and he started going “neh-neh neh-neh neh-neh neh-neh neh-neh neh neh-neh-neh” so we went back to the cottage we were staying in and jammed it out. We had just finished our first tour and drove from NYC up to outside of Portland to meet up with Bobby’s brother and relax in Maine for a few days. We are always trying to make Bonny Doon as sustainable as possible for our lives and mental health, and band retreats to cabins in beautiful places is a big part of that. There was a heavy kraut influence on this one, the one-minute track on the record was cut from an eleven-minute jam.

10. “Evening All Day Long”

Bill: I like the way this song rolls along and I love bobby’s guitar playing at the end, it’s bouncy and playful and has a sense of humor that I dig. Neither of us consider ourselves “good” guitar players but I think we’re both big fans of each other’s playing. The guitar mirrors Bobby’s lyrics too, there are jokes with a sort of existential campiness tossed in there to lighten up what could just be a straightforward sad song.

11. “(crowded)”

Josh: A longwave instrumental. There is a lot left out in the mix of this one, like all the words for one thing. It’s one of those songs that we kept adding to and adding to try and get it to feel right, and then ended up stripping everything away and just using the instrumental. It’s actually just the mic on Bill’s guitar amp and all the other instruments bleed through it. Bobby ran it through an old chorus pedal to give it a little extra movement. There’s a series of Velvet Underground bootlegs called the Guitar Amp Tapes, which are just a tape recorded in the back of Lou Reed’s amp. I could listen to those all day, they just have the feeling.

Detroit’s Bonny Doon delivered one of last year’s most delightfully surprising debut albums early last year with the self-titled record. The band members cut their teeth playing in bands like TYVEK and Growing Pains, bands known for their rugged sound – but Bonny Doon shuffled out of that scene with a much more laid back heart-on-their-sleeves melodicism in the mold of Wilco or Ryan Adams.

The band’s Bill Lennox told us that Bonny Doon had already recorded their second album , captured in the beautiful Key Club on Lake Michigan. Today they have officially revealed details of the album, which is called Longwave, and will be coming out through their new label, Woodsist Records, on 23rd March.

As a glimpse of what’s to come on Longwave, Bonny Doon have released the song ‘I Am Here (I Am Alive)’. It continues in the same, instantly amiable tone that was so winning on the debut Bonny Doon, but over the course of its five minutes it shows off a more patient and meditative songwriting sensibility. It’s a definite broadening of their sound, which suggests that Longwave is going to be an involving and compelling listen.


First single from the new Bonny Doon album “Longwave” out March 23rd, 2018 on Woodsist Records.