The heavy hitting quartet Mara Donis, and their new LP Altered Tunings, immediately strikes the listener with a barrage of sound and warm feelings, akin to popping in a beloved 120 Minutes bootleg. The sound is raw and visceral, with chugging riffs and hardcore attitude that share more in common with 70s hard rock and Mudhoney than with modern day hard rock strutters and practitioners. However, there is also a delicacy and power-pop sensibility that elevates Altered Tunings into a beast all it’s own. Recorded in 2012, the Mara Donis sound is a combination of rock, pop and strangely tuned guitars, (unique tunings for each individual song), giving the record a distinct, wall of sound sonic texture. Paired with a mixture of sweet and sour vocals, these elements combine to form a sound that acts as a bridge to the past, while simultaneously offering a glimpse into the future.
The Mara Donis story began back in 1994, when a fledging alternative rock band mirrored heavily on Nirvana called themselves Martha Dumptruck (that’s a Heathersmovie reference for those keeping score). The band put out its first album in 1996 as a demo deal through Sony Studio’s. After numerous fits and starts, the group took a break in 1999 which lasted 7-8 years. Gradually, they reformed (taking the initials of previous band to form nonsensical Mara Donis) and started playing together again. Gradually, the motivation to do a second album became a driving force, and Altered Tunings began to take shape. Some of the tracks that were picked were songs that lead singer Tim Bluto had written back in 1997. The rest, as they say, is history and the resulting Altered Tunings is a rollicking, bare-bones combination of Mara Donis’s history then and now.
For fans of hard-driven, alternative rock, Mara Donis are proudly waving the flag, and are here to recapture the purity and honesty that made it a great musical movement. Altered Tunings is their mission statement…check it out.