Mike Donovan founded Sic Alps in 2004 with Adam Stonehouse of The Hospitals and has since led his constantly evolving band through nearly a decade of melodic highs, challenging noise-world lows, experimental rock twists, hard-folk cliff hangers and lysergic doo-wop poetry successes. Over the course of 5 albums and countless tours his band has continued to define and inspire the new San Francisco sound along with compatriots Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees. What sets Donovan and Co. apart, besides the relative length of their teeth, is an experimental and lyrical depth as well as an uncompromising non-commercial stance. Now, with his band reaching ever wider audiences, Donovan is branching out solo. With the help of Eric Park
(Yikes, Arms & Legs), Donovan is releasing a full length LP on Drag City.
Coming down from the Alps-aintop recently, our boy Mike Donovan broke away from the medicine show where they preach ol' testament Sicness. Something in the forest was calling. Signals emanated from the old dark hollow, with portraits of the Old Masters stacked in silence, collected the dust they are owed. Transistorized tunes echoed from inside a mossy log, crackling and rambling in the air of watery sunlight and tensed moon mist alike. Transfixed, Mike washed his hands in muddy water and wandered on to the oracle.
Lyrically, Mike's sharpened the lead for a less random line drawn in the sand - but he's still alit on allusive trips, lost in crystal canyons, turning a phrase with an acid flick of the wrist-watch. In this life, there is a brooding pregnance as he intones over some front-porch 21st-century j'accuse-tic blues with a blur of bygone, half-plugged, elegiac slo-mo rocknroll rubbed in for good measure. Guitars intersecting in the manner of the old loom the Stones once used, weaving in blue. Where rubric becomes fabric becomes freecidelic. Confronting the empty in acrostic (inner) space, WOT is Plastic Ono dyspeptic arrhythmia, with Mike's soul shoutouts at the five-and-dime buried in the symmetry.
Tal National are from Niamey, the capital city of Niger. Their music is joyously hypnotic, a highly unique contribution to West African guitar music. With its lightening fast rhythms and rotating cast of vocalists can be heard the history of Niger as a cultural crossroads along ancient trade routes. Collected within the former French colony can be found Songhai, Fulani, Hausa, and Tuareg populations, all of whom are represented in Tal National's members. In the music we hear the rolling 12/8 rhythms in the Hausa's Fuji percussion, the pensive aridity of the Tuareg's assouf or "blues," and the exquisite "griot guitar" of Mali's Songhai, all delivered with virtuoso precision and unrelenting energy.