Fresh from a blistering set at King Tut’s in the close of 2015, Glasgow three-piece Donnie Willow unleash mini-album, Inhale. Exhale.
Originally from Edinburgh, Donnie Willow have been honing their jagged alt-rock sound for many years and with each new release their song-crafting has become more daring, polished and idiosyncratic.
After relocating to Glasgow in 2011, this album sees the results of five year’s worth of maturity and musical exploration.
Initial singles ‘Jagged Teeth’ and ‘I Eat Flies’ are stand out tracks, but it is the subtle, softer moments in songs like ‘Fairytale’ and ‘Little Brother’ that make Inhale. Exhale really shine.
One might argue bookending the album with tracks ‘Inhale’ and ‘Exhale’ is a little gimmicky these days, but who cares when they both slay.
‘Exhale’ is destined to become a live favourite, it’s dissonant chords and brutal vocals bringing the album to a perfect compromise.
Donnie Willow seem to have stepped away from big, catchy choruses on this release – they can certainly write them, however this not always apparent on Inhale. Exhale.
The memorability is in the riffs and the way in which they are repeated and developed.
There are certainly moments in the vocals that will stand out live, and Arthur Piddington’s soaring, hanging discordant melodies have become very much a part of their sound, yet big hooks found in older songs such as ‘Alice’ and ‘Been Away’ are no longer there to the same extent.
In several ways this release is an exercise in duality.
Piddington’s raw, personal vocal approach is offset by the polished technicality of the instrumentals, emphasised by Bruce Rintoul’s polished production.
Introspective and explorative jam-like moments, on ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’, are brought crashing back to the fore in an instant, through discord and progressive chord changes.
Their influences are proudly displayed in the music, which tips its hat to the past, with Biffy’s Vertigo of Bliss and Glassjaw’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence often coming to mind, however it is clear to see that Donnie Willow are sonically carving out a place for themselves among the current wave of bands meddling in math-infused mayhem – Arcane Roots, Marmozets, HECK and Classically Handsome Brutes, to name a few.
At this current point in time it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that Donnie Willow are capable of reaching the same heights as these bands.
The buzz around the trio has been building slowly but surely, gaining much momentum around this release.
This can be put down to their hard-earned reputation as an exciting live band that are an integral part of the Glasgow and Edinburgh scenes, their creatively amusing videos and a solid foundation of good tunes.
If you haven’t heard of Donnie Willow yet, check them out, better yet, go and see them live.
Words: Andy Gregory