It’s always comforting to have Mike Donovan back in my life. Since snaking Sic Alps through the seas of fuzz in the early aughts he’s been a steadfast companion with or without the Alps name in tow. Moving to a solo record a few years back and forming Peacers in 2015, which began as a duo with a garage icon of some renown, he’s always been able to find the ragged pieces of the human soul and put them in an order that would make Skip Spence proud. That reputation takes no tarnish here, it’s a pure ramble through the flickering flame at the heart of truly underrated songwriter.
Now with the exit of Ty Segall, one could see the sophomore outing as a bit of bait and switch. Though that kind of view would discount Donovan and place a hair too much of a crown on the heavy head of Segall. Sure, Introducing The Crimsmen is a decidedly quieter record than the last, and that may have something to do with the parting, but its always been Donovan’s show. That makes this record heir apparent, so to speak, to the Sic Alps line, and it feels very much like that’s the idea. Introducing… is a slightly dressed up version of Sic Alps, still shaggy but maybe throwing a shirt and tie on the production while filling out the sound via the addition of Shayde Sartin, Mike Shoun and Bo Moore.
The new players give Donovan’s songs a heft that Alps didn’t always have to swing around. His jagged-psych is given legs via some country touches and the grit gets heavier with the tumble of drums and a second guitar to fill out the din. The acoustic bent on a few tracks, added to that aforementioned shimmer of country, chafes against his gnarled guitar squalls at times. When it all meshes together into a rusted wire framework, though, it works for the most part as the listener steps back to take it all in. That lighter sound hearkens back to that solo album (still one of the highlights in his catalog) but personally I miss a bit of the heaviness of the first record, and it would have been nice to see him go all in on that direction with the full band. Still, there are some true gems in the folds here.
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