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by Jon E. Lynch

Mike Donovan, “How to Get Your Record Played in Shops”Another Friday in the spring release cycle means another tough decision on what album to single out and cover. Stoner grunge sludge pioneers the Melvins return with “Pinkus Abortion Technician,” their first album with dual bassists. It highlights the inclusion of touring/seemingly full-time member Jeff Pinkus, most notably of the Butthole Surfers. Cleveland-based brother duo Emmett and Cullen O’Connor, aka Archie and The Bunkers, release their sophomore full-length of raucous garage punk, self-described “hi-fi organ punk.” Finally, Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley team up under the Drinks moniker for another record of absurdist anti-folk. And this barely scratches the surface of 4/20 releases. There are scores more, but those mentioned are some of my favorites. If any old codger has the gall to suggest good music is not being made anymore, send them my way.

Since the dissolution of Sic Alps in 2013, Mike Donovan has been a seemingly busy man. That said, “How to Get Your Record Played in Shops” is only his second full release of proper music under his own name. The entire record is keyboard and piano-heavy, as opposed to his general guitar-focused approach, but I’d have never given that a thought after multiple listens. Sure, both keyed instruments are apparent, but it’s the found sounds and lilting guitar that fill out the sonic breezeways of noir pop. Styles shift in and out, but maintain a relative cohesiveness of introspective, heart-on-sleeve crafted songwriting. Standout tracks are too many to single out, but include the swirling “3 Track Seizure,” and “Cold Shine,” with the lyrical refrain – “Is it really all…chemical…and cold?” – that gets stuck firmly in my head long after it is over. The most guitar-forward cut, and easily the best titled track, goes to the album closer, misspellings and all, “Fox News Coverage ‘68 (Yea I Know It’s A Drag, Assasinating Billionaires Is Still A Radical Imperitive).”

“How to Get Your Record Played in Shops” is available via Drag City on Friday, April 20, on cassette and standard black vinyl LP. Both physical versions come with a download code of the album in various high quality formats (MP3, FLAC and more).

Recommended for fans of Sic Alps, The Peacers, Atlas Sound, Elliott Smith, White Fence, Kevin Morby, or even moments of Mutations and “Sea Change”-era Beck.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]


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