The Oregon Donor – A Pageant’s End

The Oregon Donor - A Pageant's End

The Oregon Donor - A Pageant's End

With their musical imagination in full blossom, The Oregon Donor has scored an engaging rock album. A remarkable number of quality influences emerge on A Pageant’s End, and throughout its ten songs the band keeps moving and trying things, taking risks and finding a rich middle ground between pop, prog, and post-rock. You’ll hear a lot of Sunny Day Real Estate and Hot Hot Heat, with resounding echoes from Built to Spill and Broken Social Scene among others. The Oregon Donor moves skillfully through these influences, achieving a unique, transitory sound that winds, cuts, ambles, and pops.

This 4-piece from Washington state, now on their 2nd LP,  are more precise than most of their influences. Songs don’t just happen effortlessly. Rather, The Oregon Donor execute their compositions. Harmony and dissonance spar within their clean or distorted guitar tones, but it is the rhythm section that shines. The vocal gives a mixed performance, bearing strong resemblance tonally to Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat. When songs hit climaxes, the highly emotive vocal delivery is effective when it isn’t forced.

Most of the bright spots on A Pageant’s End come in the album’s first half. Opening track “Pageant” strums along quietly, a downbeat counterpoint to the variety to come. “Hostages”, one of the the album’s three best efforts, is more catchy than a song with dissonance, syncopation, and prog rock guitar lines is supposed to be. Then, the also stellar “Morse Code” takes a simple chord progression in unexpected directions. Creativity is the hallmark of The Oregon Donor’s songwriting; songs are mostly cohesive, but the combinations of parts are unusual. The music feels disjointed, but it works.

The next 5 tracks aren’t as complete, but even dry spots on A Pageant’s End can bear fruit. The driest spots come on “Mimicry” and “In Dogs We Trust”, songs that are less interesting, with parts that drag or vocals that grate. But don’t get me wrong–The Oregon Donor sets the bar high in terms of musicianship, songwriting, and performance. “What Good Hate Did”, the ninth track, is a shining example. At over 7 minutes long, this track develops with more patience than the rest, and there’s a payoff. Grinding guitars give way to space rock, then wind into a dual guitar harmony that takes the song to an emotional climax.

A pile of healthy influences surge through A Pageant’s End. This solid rock album by The Oregon Donor sounds provocative, fresh, and original. There are a few kinks to work out yet, maybe, but you’ll like what you hear.

The Oregon Donor’s MySpace
Burning Building Recordings