Riff rush: Party anthems make you smile

CD Review
The Donnas
Spend the Night

I'm ashamed to say that The Donna's new album, Spend the Night, (Atlantic) is my latest guilty pleasure. Nobody takes The Donnas seriously, and for good reason.

With album titles like Get Skintight and Turn 21 (insert "The Donnas" before each title)– songs that revolve around the triad of parties, getting laid, and drinking– and a sound that's an amalgamation of the best of Kiss and AC/DC, "serious" isn't in the band's repertoire. But sometimes you need something to clear your musical pallet, so to speak, to remind yourself that life is about living and lovin', and music doesn't always have to be the serious study of feedback and dues that's dominated the underground since the late '80s.

The Donnas are Donna A. (Brett Anderson) on vocals, Donna C. (Torry Castellano) on drums, Donna F. (Maya Ford) on bass, and Donna R. (Allison Robertson) on guitar. The group began playing together at the ripe old age of 14 as the punk group Ragady Anne.

They then morphed into "riot grrl" speed-metal outfit The Electrocutes, and before long were approached by Darrin Rafaelli of the band Supercharger to record some songs he had written, under a new moniker, The Donnas.

After releasing a number of singles and their first self-titled album on Rafaelli's own Super*Teem record label, the band decided they had had enough of Rafaelli's puppetry and began to write their own songs. Around this time they also jumped to Lookout! Records, the West Coast punk label home of Rancid, The Queers, and many others, and quickly put out their next album of mostly original tunes, American Teenage Rock and Roll Machine.

Spend the Night is the group's fifth studio full-length, and it's a rush of riffs and pop melodies-­ the perfect thing to get you through these cold, snowy winter nights (and days). Donna R. is an able student of the Izzy Stradlin (Guns 'N Roses), Angus Young (AC/DC) school of big guitar, and though I am sure some of the chops here have been copped, it's kind of a non-issue in the sample-happy world we live in (that's pretty much the history of rock, anyway).

Vocalist Donna A.'s half lived-in voice (wait until she's 30!) pulls off any vocal gymnastics that her band-mates call for with ease. Drummer Donna C.'s got the whole Tommy Lee from Motley Crue thing down (plenty of cowbell).

Highlights include "Who Invited You?" (about a party), "Take Me to the Backseat" (self-explanatory), and "Too Bad About Your Girl" (about trying to get with a gentleman with a girlfriend)– which features the priceless chorus "It's too bad about your girl, she doesn't look like she's much fun / It's too bad you've a date tonight, cause you're looking like you're the one."

With one utterly putrid exception– song five, "Dirty Denim"– the album is one big never-ending slab of riff rock -led party anthems. The Donna's Spend the Night will make you smile, get loose, and shake it, all night long.