Red Dons


Red Dons Generations EP

Despite moving to different corners of the US and Europe, members of RED DONS—originally formed in Portland, Oregon in 2006—have continued to put out music throughout the decades. Their name comes from a group of British Intelligence officers working out of Cambridge University circa WWI who were discovered to be Soviet spies, the context of which sets the stage for their long view of political engagement and questioning. As for the music, I find a sound rooted in rock’n’roll, emulating/paying homage to dark-leaning bands like the DAMNED or T.S.O.L., with plenty of space for guitar solos, keys, and some mild crooning and wailing. This four-song EP marks their first release since 2017’s Genocide, and they are still sharp and passionate as ever.  Moody, poignant, enlivened music.

Red Dons East / West Collection LP

Early ’00s Portland, Oregon was a fertile and dynamic time and place for punk. The hazy, jaded eyes of nostalgia might call it a high-water mark. House shows and venues were plenty, and the scene was filled with a talented, incestuous group of misfits. Following the breakup of the OBSERVERS, Doug Burns connected with Hajji Husayn to form the RED DONS. The rotating group of collaborators who joined later included members of CLOROX GIRLS, CHEMICALS, TRIGGERS, SUSPECT PARTS, and the STOPS. Their melodic, minor chord post-punk political anthems became an important soundtrack in both the Pacific Northwest and across the globe. With Doug Burns’s painting and artistic visions crafting the look and style of the band, they became one of most popular and important groups in the circuit, with a sound that bridged both the garage rock and hardcore scenes at the time. RED DONS toured extensively in South America and Europe, continuing to do so with a recent tour back to Germany this year. This collection of songs spans the RED DONS catalog for well over the last decade. There’s “Independent” and “This City” from their debut LP Death to Idealism. The epic song “Ausländer” from the Dirtnap Records 7” clocks in at nearly five minutes, but never loses its earnest energy. “West Bank” and “Room 322” are included from the early Escaping Amman EP, and songs from the Fake Meets Failure LP and other releases round out the fourteen tracks. Unlike some retrospective collections that fluctuate in style, sound, and substance, this plays cohesively and strongly throughout in a testament to the band’s consistent vision and delivery. It’s a great starting point for those new to the RED DONS, and a welcome reprise for those there from the start.