It’s been 8 years since the first Skygreen Leopards' record was released. Since then the boys have maintained their singular aesthetic while managing to dabble with faux-folk, avant garde pop, reverb-drenched lo-fi psychedelia, plastic country and blurry ballads. This latest effort finds them collaborating with Jason Quever (Papercuts) to create a melancholy world overflowing with itinerant dandies, urban streets, suburban teens, and more girls' names than I care to count, all set to melodic shuffles featuring harmonies, frail piano, and romantic guitars.
As always with the Leopards the rhythms refuse to be bridled, the boys resist the urge to jam, and they won’t ever learn to sing properly. This will frustrate the expectations of some. Others will find a sweet shadowy hiding place in these songs -- 3 minutes to hang out with girls who race horses, boys who never learned to dance, and a dirty uncle who steals your cigarettes.
The Skygreen Leopards started in 2001 as a duo, just Glenn Donaldson and Donovan Quinn. Working out of the Hobo Victoria district of San Francisco, they've since recorded five full-length albums and one EP in their five year history. Over these recordings the band has been given to metamorphosis but has always managed to sound distinctly "Skygreen". Their newest album, Disciples of California, continues in the alchemical tradition of change and inward-revolt. On it, the Skygreen Leopards mix pop melodies, minimal country truisms, jingle-jangling Californianism and angular folk with something the band refers to as "our horse called Dire Arrow," which roughly translates into family friendly (sans the "American Censorship" connotations).
The Skygreen Leopards present Jehovah Surrender, a six song EP that documents the changing of seasons in a world of whippoorwill moans. Electric guitar howl like a farmers hound, fuzz bass stampedes, and drums trot and gallop like the finest of wild horses. Donovan & Glenn write: “Not long ago the band was visiting a friend in Port Costa, California. After sharing a bottle of wine and enjoying the moonlight dances of his two daughters—the friend wanted to share a secret. He pulled an oversized key outof his overalls pocket and lead them out back to his shed. In the shed was an ancient drumset and a cobwebby electric guitar.The man said he knew Arlo Guthrie and that he was once in a band called Hobo Splendor.Well thats all it took for theSkygreen's to lose their hearts and heads to a new muse.We played All the Young Dudes and Hobo Jesus Blues all night longand the daughters danced ballroom. This e.p. is inspired by the man from Hobo Splendor—get better my friend!”
With Life & Love in Sparrow's Meadow, The Skygreen Leopards expand on their strange pastoral folk-pop and enter center stage as one of the most unique voices in the new folk movement. The Skygreen Leopards are Donovan Quinn (Verdure) and Glenn Donaldson (Thuja, Blithe Sons, Franciscan Hobbies, Birdtree, Ivytree, etc.). Formed in 2001, Quinn and Donaldson met while responding to a cryptic ad in the paper looking for Lumberjack players (little wooden dancing men you play on a board for percussion and visual interest). After being bested by an Appalachian man, Donovan and Glenn began studying the stars together where Glenn, while tracing his finger along Orion, said, "Donovan, we are the Skygreen Leopards", and so they were.
The Skygreen Leopards originate from the Bay Area-based Jewelled Antler forest of bands. Donaldson co-founded the Jewelled Antler label in 1999, which has since released over 25 CD-R's ranging from straight field recordings & outdoor improv-folk to noise & fractured pop music. The Skygreen Leopards are without a doubt the most structured and accessible of these projects. Much of the Jewelled Antler music is recorded live outdoors on mini-discs & boomboxes while the Skygreen Leopards primarily focus on a surreal form of multi-layered folk-pop recorded on an old reel-to-reel housed in a moldy trailer on the back of a horse ranch. 12-string guitars, banjos, dulcimers, Jew's harps, organs, maracas, mandolins, harmonicas, ocarinas & reed flutes harmonize with the field-recorded songs of birds, barnyard animals & insects. This hedge of sounds is the backdrop for Quinn & Donaldson's mythological rants & hazy melodies.