Don Mogill has a rare natural ability to craft finely melodic guitar-driven pop songs with sweet harmonies that are easy on the ears. These songs seem to recall a vaguely distant happier simpler time when matters of the heart were what mattered most. As such, this debut CD from the Dons arrives with equal parts glorious guitar jangle/sheen and guardedly fond nostalgic feel.
These are delicious pieces of ear candy, cleanly produced by Steve Refling and mastered by the band's rhythm guitarist Ken West (Receiver). When such sweet songs wend their way into your subconscious, the only real question is why they aren't finding a larger audience.
Dawn of The Dons opens with the hook-laden "Cakewalk", an unapologetic song about songwriting, playing out and "music on the run". In simple terms, Mogill explains you get it done: "Gonna chew on the microphone / State my point of view / Belt out a rhythm, ring it in your ear /And abandon desperation."
Another catchy melody that clocks in efficiently less than three minutes (and one that seems like it could fit into the Rosenbergs repertoire) is "Till We Meet Again". In "Stain", Don Mogill has written perhaps the classiest song yet related to Monica's oral escapades in the oval office.
Most of the music here recalls rockers with a fondness for sweet melodies, big hooks and equally infectious harmonies like the Posies, Velvet Crush or their requisite component members and affiliated friends (Auer, Stringfellow, Sweet, et al). "One Horse Town" has a real Posies feel to it, a tale of trying to put a happy face on the hurt pride of having being jilted for another.
"Only Guy" is that perfect radio-ready single with marvelous jangle guitar sounds (and a great middle lead), impressive harmonies and even the requisite "Oh Yeah" chorus. This song covers similar subject matter, the man pleading his case before deciding to move on, setting the parameters of what her yes or no will mean.
"Diane" shows the Dons' capability with the softer ballad, another pretty song whose beauty masks the seriousness of its topic matter, a relationship that has reached an impasse. Kudos go out to the rhythm section of Jesse Jay on bass and Doug Riggs on drums with their fine work on "Everything We Need".
Another strong song worth singling out is "On My Way Down", with equal parts great harmonies and strong guitars (Mogill and West really do a great job), and even a mid-song key change. Lyrically, it is an examination of the type of normal apprehensions and fears that can encroach upon the thought processes while in a relationship.
"Together" is further proof that Mogill has saved up a whole satchel-full of rocking songs for this debut (check out the fab 1960s-style lead that follows the middle bridge). "Fallen Angels" is more soft rock, West-coast style, and even seems a bit Beach Boys/Brian Wilson-ish, while "It's Over Now" seems to mix new wave energy with a chorus that seems a wee bit Don Henley/Eagle-ish.
The brief closer "I'll Show You" shows us merely that there's no drop in quality from the first song to the last (though there also is a bonus alternate version of "On My Way Down" included as well). The Los Angeles quartet known as the Dons has produced a real gem of a debut album, one that grows sweeter, more pleasant and soothing, the more you play it. If you enjoy sweet harmonies and melodic well-crafted pop/rock, turn your ears toward Dawn of The Dons.