Now that the Donnas are on a major, they are turning up in all the right places: TRL last week, SNL last night. Although I am not thrilled that they have turned in the direction of the chunky hard rock of Kiss or AC/DC and away from their punkier beginnings, I still think they are great – they are the first mainstream girl band since the ’80s (Go-Go’s, Bangles) to really rock hard (the Donnas are harder than either) AND not be afraid to be girly.
Two years ago when my son was 13 and my older daughter 16 we saw the Donnas at a club in Cleveland, and I can’t think of another band that would have drawn us out together with equal enthusiasm. Though the set got somewhat repetitive, whose set doesn’t? Virtually every band on earth starts to sound the same after 45 minutes or so – we still had a ball and were impressed by their command.
I was very impressed by their prefomance on SNL last night – the drummer, Torry Castellano (Donna C.), has improved vastly and now bashes with the big boys while keeping an elastic groove: a great drummer is every good band’s secret weapon. Guitarist Allison Robertson (Donna R.) has mastered all the chunky goodness of her Les Paul and now riffs with utter authority. She even solos confidently over the bass and drum rhythm, which is not easy to do without a rhythm guitar or keyboard to keep the chords going. Brett Anderson’s (Donna A.) dry, deadpan vocals keep the band anchored in an alt-rock feel, and prevent their hard rock sound from veering off into hair-band histrionics. The Donnas have always been “great,” but now they have become “good” as well, without losing their charm in the process.