Ragady Anne, an all female Rock group hailing from Palo Alto, formed in junior high and released their first 7' vinyl just two years later, in '95. That same year, the group changed their name to The Donnas.
Their early sound had much in common with the Ramones - the same slam it against the wall, reckless Rock. And like the Ramones, each member shared the same name (first instead of last).
In '97, the group signed with Lookout! Records and recorded three highly acclaimed, if not blockbuster, albums, "American Teenage Rock 'n' Roll Machine" ('98), "Get Skintight" ('99), and "The Donnas Turn 21" ('01). The Donnas took home a couple of BAM (Bay Area Music) awards and built a buzz that landed them on MTV and led to a few late night TV appearances. But while often praised, The Donnas were still off most people's radar. Fortunately, that changed when the group moved to Atlantic Records who released their breakthrough "Spend The Night," featuring "Take It Off."
Under the guidance of producer Chris Lord-Alge, '04 release "The Gold Medal" delivers lean, catchy Rock with irresistible rhythms ("Don't Break Me Down") and a welcome edge.
Eventually, a major label's interest in a band wanes. But by that time band members are usually sick and tired of each other and use the label's inattention as an excuse to go their separate ways. But in some cases the group feels they still have some life and don't mind being in the same room together. Add to that a declining, if non-existent, interest in jumping through any more major label hoops and there's the opportunity for a fresh start.
The Donnas found themselves in that position in '06 when they announced on their message board that they had parted company with Atlantic Records. "The decision was entirely mutual and completely amicable and will not impact the band, nor will it impact upon the writing, recording or touring for the next Donnas album," said the announcement. The following year, the group, now on their own Purple Feather label released "Bitchin'" (they probably couldn't have gotten away with that title on a major) with the lead single "Don't Wait Up For Me."
The Donnas' slam-bam Rock is undeniable. Their first three albums attest to that. Backing off the accelerator ever so slightly for their Atlantic debut "Spend The Night" The Donnas are more accessible but still possess the rough edges and punch that garnered them attention in the first place. "Take It Off" is a "trash it out" Rocker. "It's On The Rocks" and "All Messed Up" are a couple more hot tracks.
Of their Lookout! albums, "The Donnas Turn 21" features Punk Rocker "Are You Gonna Move It For Me?" and the joyfully gritty "40 Boys In 40 Nights."
"The Gold Medal" possesses a straight-ahead guitar sound played with genuine energy and barely a whiff of affectation. "Friends like mine will never let you down, 'til you hit the ground" from "Friends Like Mine" provides some lyrical spark. But they could stand a little less production and a bit more mess.
The Donnas take another high-energy swing at the female-male dynamic on "Bitchin'. They are lusty ("Love You Till It Hurts") demanding ("Smoke You Out"), gossipy ("Girl Talk") and even lonely ("When The Show Is Over"). Most songs with "wasted" in the title would be about drug and/or alcohol use. Not the Donnas. "Wasted" is about getting lost on a guy's looks. While "Don't Wait Up For Me" could have fallen out of the Joan Jett songbook, The Donnas also muscle it out in Bad Company fashion on "Tonight's Alright."
Their vocal punch and melodic sense are right on target. "What Do I Have To Do" packs it all into a single song with intoxicating backing "whoas" and even a cowbell.