Posts Tagged ‘Donovan Quinn’

New Bums – “Turned To Graffiti”

Still loving every thread of this upcoming New Bums LP and the band lets out another great track from its folds. With a cryptic video attached, Donovan and Ben set the backdrop on the fatalistic “Turned to Graffiti.” The song has a bittersweet core but there’s breeze in its bones, with chiming guitars that pull from the slight sway of South American folk music, feeling like it might be celebratory if there wasn’t worry between their words. Both songwriters have long been favorites around here, so its great to see them teaming up for a record of furrowed, road -dusted new folk favorites. The new LP, Last Time I Saw Grace is out March 19th on Drag City.

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New Bums – “Billy, God Damn”

I love it when a band resurfaces out of the black hole of the zeitgeist to deliver something that you didn’t know you needed on a Tuesday morning. New Bums emerged much the same way on their debut — a collaboration between longtime RSTB faves Donovan Quinn and Ben Chasny, that paired up the psych-folk veterans for a worn and weary record that felt like it had an audible hangover. It was a brilliantly ruffled album and they emerge seven years later with another record that’s just as comfortably broken and bruised. The first taste of the LP, “Billy, God Damn” sails in on their smoke and soil rubbed delivery. Can’t wait for this one, but we’ll all have to be collectively patient until the record lands on shelves March 19th.




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RSTB Best of 2019

2019’s drawing to a close, so I suppose this is the place to tie it all up. I’ve mentioned in years past that ‘best’ is a hard line to draw around the music from the year. From a blog perspective ‘favorite’ seems more appropriate, but then for all intents and purposes my choices are qualitatively the best to me, if not necessarily quantitatively best in the sense of the zeitgeist. The drive to figure out what’s best seems to just consolidate consensus and we’re all treated to dozens of lists that cross over with each other, especially in the top spots. I’ve long been a proponent of niche. I say long live finding your voice and letting others find theirs – we can all compare notes and discover new music in the process. I don’t need anyone to sand the edges and offer up a list that’s all inclusive. I like the edges. These are my favorites from a great year, edges and all.

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Donovan Quinn

Like a star on the horizon, Soft Abuse comes creeping in with some essential late 2019 releases, including the fourth solo album from Donovan Quinn. The California songwriter has been a longtime fixture on RSTB, having anchored Skygreen Leopards, New Bums, and Verdure in the past. His albums are few and far between, bucking a trend of so many lately to work feverishly to amass a catalog that could cripple shelves and wallets alike. Quinn’s measured pace always pays off with songs that constantly recontextualize the past into something undeniably new — like beams of a barn brought to new life in new construction. The ghosts of those beams remain ever present and they seep out slowly into the room to mix with the mites and stir up the senses.

The songs on Absolom are even more haunted than most of Quinn’s works, having evolved from an idea to build songs around the lore of other artists. Ultimately that idea was set aside, but there’s still a feeling of these songs having been lived in, lyrically or otherwise by the ethers and embers of the past. On the long, winding highlight “Satanic Summer Nights” Quinn conjures Nikki Sudden with an ear towards ambitious boundaries. Its Sudden rewriting the The Pretty Things’ Parachute for a new age. Elsewhere Quinn’s tales are rife with loss, haunted not only by his heroes but by feelings just out of reach. He saunters through the rooms, touching each stick of furniture and mourning the dust as much as the lack of inhabitants that let it settle.

On Absalom Quinn’s assembled a rotating cast of performers from his circle but their contributions are just paints in his set. There’s rarely been a record that has more of Quinn’s mark on it. His voice is embedded in the grain of the guitars, the worn spots on the piano keys, the magnetic fields on the tape. Whether or not these tales are his, he’s embodied them with his whole and its an undeniable record, one that stands high in an enviable catalog. Its late in the year, which makes me think that a lot of ears have shut themselves tight, but I hope this one reverberates across the cold air and into the hearts that need it.



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Donovan Quinn – “Satanic Summer Nights”

Has it really been seven years since Donovan Quinn graced us all with a solo record? It seems this is absolutely true, though his collaborative project with Ben Chasny, New Bums, helped to heal the wounds of time in the interim. In that light, news of the upcoming Absalom comes with a sense of excitement and the first cut from the record, the twisting, epic “Satanic Summer Nights” sets the mood just right. The new album sees Quinn reconnect with a heavy cast of regulars in his musical universe – Chasny, of course, is here, lending a hand to mix the record, plus appearances by Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers), Jessica Roberts, Jason Quever (Papercuts), Michael Tapscott (Odawas) and Eric Amerman flesh the album out to one of Donovan’s heaviest hitters yet.

“Satanic Summer Nights” captures the whirlwind feelings of youth, the crushing weight of change, and the sting of betrayal set to a background of humid summer air. The pulsing pop twists and time changes give the song the grandiosity of Nikki Sudden tying together three of four of his best deep cuts into a pounding medley before collapsing to a heap on the stage. Given his roots in Skygreen Leopards, Quinn has remained an inspiration for RSTB since the very first days of the site, and I can say without hesitation that this feels like one of his most affecting records. Take a few spins through “Satanic Summer Nights” and look out for the new record on Soft Abuse December 5th.

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The Skygreen Leopards Archival Compilation

More great news filters out of the Skygreen Leopards camp today. After the release this month of archival Ivytree material for Recital Records, news comes today that former Skygreen home Soft Abuse will round up some early material from the band’s CD-r days. Culling from I Dreamt She Rode On A Pink Gazelle & Other Dreams, The Story Of The Green Lamb & The Jerusalem Priestess Of Leaves, and One Thousand Bird Ceremony, the new LP gives an overview of the band’s pre-Jagjaguwar days of live to tape captures and 3-minute folk-pop that beamed like the California sun. If, like most, you missed out on a lot of this material, then the release comes as an indispensable primer. Plus, this is the first time any of these recordings have found their way to vinyl. Just in time to usher in summer. The record is out June 22nd, right before they hop on a few dates with Frog Eyes on the West Coast.



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