Posts Tagged ‘Glenn Donaldson’

RSTB Best of 2018: Reissues, Etc.

A large part of the site is not only focusing on new releases, but also the great reissues that are unearthed during the course of a year. Below are my picks for the best editions dug up by the hardworking folks on the reissue circuit. Every year there are less options to work from and every year labels continue to surprise me with what they bring out. I’m also going to take a moment to give tribute to an album that could have been this year but due to unfortunate circumstances didn’t make it to fruition.

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Michael O – “Haunted”

More good news arrives from The Mantles’ camp this week as songwriter Michael Olivares has a new single on the way for Fruits & Flowers. The first song from the single, “Haunted,” is a dreamy, delicate bit of jangle-pop, bolstered by a pillowy touch of keys and a hum of violin. Like much of his work for the small SF label, the song picks at the past with a reverent comb. There’s a looming shadow of The Jacobites here, as well as flashes of The Go-Betweens and The Pastels. Along with producer Edmund Xavier, Olivares has woven another stunner. Fruits & Flowers is quietly building themselves as the new Sarah Records (for those just now getting interested in the veteran label’s Bandcamp revitalization) and I hope that it gets recognition as such in its own time. The fear always remains that something this delicately niche could suffer in silence, only to gain the following they should have had two generations down the line. Prevent that cruel curse by jumping into their catalog with both feet now.



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The Oilies – “Anywhere With You”

More jangled goodness out of the Bay Area comes arrives with the first single from The Oilies, the new band from Carly Putnam (The Mantles, Art Museums, Reds, Pinks & Purples). The two-shot of understated pop displays Putnam’s knack for intimate, bittersweet melodies. “Anywhere With You” snakes through the psyche with nods to The Verlaines and early Chills. The song’s a darker shade of jangle-pop, with spiky stabs of guitar that displays the other side of love’s embrace. Putnam turns her back on her object of affection, asserting that she’s “better off nowhere, than anywhere with you.” It’s a great intro to the band that picks up several SF players and nabs a production credit from Skygreen Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson.

On the flip she’ gets a bit spritelier, cutting back some of the dark shading that elevates “Anywhere,” but still holding down court on some great jangle-pop. Seems the members of The Mantles are a busy bunch this Fall, with Michael O. also on the verge of a new album. Hopefully Carly’s got more in the works as well, as this is a great start.


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The Ivytree

Back in the spring of 2006, when this blog was just finding its footing as a flyover mp3 site on Blogger, the blossoming psych-folk boom was a large inspiration. In particular the works that huddled together under the Jewelled Antler Collective felt like they needed amplification. A homespun collection of works that eked out in small press formatis (CD-Rs and the problematic yet enticing 3” CD) in the years prior to the site’s creation, the label was a hub of folk scuffed by field recordings and softened by tape hiss. At the center of that hub was Glenn Donaldson, who’d recorded as The Blithe Sons, Thuja, Giant Skyflower Band, Birdtree, Ivytree and, at the time was gaining ground with Skygreen Leopards. Donaldon’s, plaintive falsetto and filmstrip grained folk embraced the home/field recorded aesthetics that summed up much of the best psych-folk of that particular era and he helped dozens of likeminded artists find a home.

Seems that composer and label head Sean McCann would agree with the impact Donaldson had around the time and he reached out to publish a compilation of some of Ivytree’s best moments. What he wound up with instead, as Glenn dug through his archives, was a collection of unreleased Ivytree songs that present a whole new slew of material that’s just as captivating as the existing works (which are largely relegated to an EP, album and one side of a split 12” with Chris Smith). Ivytree has always stood as the coinflip to The Birdtree – both visions of Glenn’s solo folk captured in harmony with nature and seeping through the speakers as fragile and warm as a sunbeam and alternately cool and humid as deep forest moss.

The songs here pick up the tradition of earlier works, conjuring bittersweet moments of solitude, echoing around headphones and speakers like cave walls and tree canopies. That these sat in storage seems an injustice that’s just now being righted. After all these years, the Ivytree songs still have he same ability to transport the listener to open fields with soft breezes and I’m grateful to Recital for bringing this out to the world. If you’re unfamiliar with the original works do yourself a favor, start here and then tumble down through Ivytree and Birdtree’s early records for some of folk’s most unheralded gems.




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The Ivytree – “All The White Plumes”

There are a lot of things that propped this site up from the beginning but the works of Skygreen Leopards and the Jewelled Antler Collective were legion among them. In the pantheon of great, but sorely overlooked members of the Collective, The Ivytree has always stood as a particularly sad casualty. The band’s humble, human, creaky and calm LP Winged Leaves has long been a gem in the psych-folk / field recordings boom of the early aughts. Alongside The Birdtree record (which could stand more attention as well) the record culls together some of Glenn Donaldson’s best work outside of Skygreen proper. So, its with some excitement that news of a “new” Ivytree LP is on the horizon.

The Recital Program is culling together a collection of unreleased Ivytree recordings from Glenn’s archives, a time-shifted collection of songs that’s bringing back the rush of mossy folk from ’04 like a welcome pang in the stomach. First track, “All The White Plumes,” is a foggy, cold amble into the same caves that always marked the band’s sound and reason to believe that the rest of the record is full of gems rightly pulled from his archive by luck and luster.


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Odd Hope

It’s hard to capture the feeling of an era lost. There are plenty of jangle-pop imitators and even a new crop of Kiwis that are attempting to resurrect what Flying Nun once found so effortless. In California, however, there remains a solitary lifeline to the sound in the form of Tim Tinderholt’s Odd Hope. Following on a solid single for Fruits & Flowers, Tinderholt has come ratcheting back with a perfect distillation of all those lost gems from the underside of the equator. Though, its not without noting that he’s also mining a great deal from The Jacobites and The Pastels as well. He’s found purchase not only in their sunny, jangled ebullience but also in the quieter, introverted weirdness that made so many of these ’80s and ’90s oddities such coveted releases.

Produced by Fruits & Flowers co-founder Glenn Donaldson, (Skygreen Leopards, The Birdtree) the record retains an unmistakable touch of his own homespun and hissed-flecked folk pop, but at the heart is Tim’s distinct gravitational pull. Tinderholt’s songwriting is given a treatment that flickers like an emergency candle in a power outage, an inviting harbor in the face of unblinking darkness. The album is both a beacon and a comfort. When he’s reflecting the brilliant sun’s glow there’s no other light that can hope to outshine his positivity, but when the vibes turn, as they often do, to smirking, unsure, melancholy and jittery, Tinderholt is the friend who understands just how overwhelming the outside world is.

So maybe just huddle down into these ten tracks like a blanket in a storm that may or may not pass. Tinderholt’s eponymous debut is the kind of record that’s destined to be missed by the oblivious as anathema to modern trends and revisited years later as a cherished totem to those who were paying attention. With so many of those types of records now getting the reissue treatment, it would seem only intuitive to nip into this while it’s fresh and fidgeting. Odd Hope is a truly endearing open wound that sucks the listener in with its weird and blissful ache.




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Odd Hope – “Reasons I Will Not Say”

Been a while since I’ve heard from Odd Hope, the solo project from Tim Tinderholt, but he’s back in fine jangled form on new track “Reasons I Will Not Say”. Still chasing the fading tail of the Sarah Records ghost, Tinderholt again creates a song that’s gently bumping the nostalgia centers of the brain. Full of wistful sighs and softly crying keys, it’s more fleshed out than the first single that he put out a few years back on Fruits & Flowers, a sign that the upcoming LP is shaping up to be a real jangle-pop contender. Produced by Skygreen Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson, the LP, also on the small SF imprint, is the label’s first full-length proper. If the rest of Tinderholt’s songs shape up as beautifully spare as this, then we’d all better keep an eye out for what’s sure to be a hushed classic in the making.




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Premiere: The Lovebirds – “Ready To Suffer”

San Francisco is full of guitar rock of the jangled variety but rising above the typical Mission fray soars The Lovebirds. They’re packing a satchel full of chiming chords here, but rather than throw a nod to SF’s ’60s roots, they channel College-ready literate charmers and powerpop dandies alike, drawing a line from the Groovies on down to Elvis Costello and Teenage Fanclub waiting in the wings. “Ready To Suffer” flicks at the subconscious, feeling familiar in a way that pushes it out of time, like a lost b-side from the archives of any of those bands.

It certainly doesn’t holler fresh-faced kids about town, that’s for sure, but that’s to the band’s credit as scholars of their influences. Add to the quality tunes some mix n’ master duties from RSTB faves Glenn Donaldson and Mikey Young respectively and this is a tight package and prime introduction to a band to watch.




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Glenn Donaldson on The Television Personalities – The Painted Word

Hidden Gems is based on the idea of those records that are found along the way in life that you can’t believe you never heard about, the ones that just blow you away on first listen and seem like such a find. The kind of records that get left out of all the essential decade lists and 1001 records you need to hear before you die type of listicle. The ones that got away. In the first installment I tapped Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Art Museums, Jewelled Antler Collective) to have his pick at a record that fits the bill. Glenn’s Twitter feed alone is full of enough overlooked classics to fill this feature ten times over, so needless to say I was intrigued. He’s picked Television Personalities’ fourth album, the darkly shaded, The Painted Word. I asked him how the record came into his life and how its affected him and his music.

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