New Christy Minstrels Dodge Their Coastal Collective Camps


Leaving behind their respective coastal “collective” colleagues—be it the Jewelled Antler out in Cali or the Animal one here in Brooklyn Zoo—both plant and mammal seek solitude from forest and flock. Glenn Donaldson (Ivytree), renowned for arbor-specific albs like Olivetree and Birdtree in minuscule CD-R editions, wraps Winged Leaves in a package wherein Audubon meets Max Ernst, while Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) has neither faces nor song titles. Both secret-share their most private sound and echo that other faux-plural indie-vidual release, Palace Brothers’ Days in the Wake. Don’t expect songs, per se. It’s all about spaces and Mother Nature worship amid miasmic Christian entreaties.

Each transmogrified gent recedes into a reclusive room to read: Donaldson grabs the Old Testament, Lennox a hymnal. Hear the latter’s Young Prayer wailed out where Papa Bear passed away in his den. Here the guitar notes flit like flies as the piano din settles like dust. But the Ivytree withdraws further. Segments of Winged Leaves sound as if recorded in a log cabin plummeting down a cavern, but tempered by interludes made in forest clearings. Picture Richard Manuel’s fractured falsetto in the Band’s “Whispering Pines” played along with amplified pine needle rustles, where taped-down organ keys signify depression with their wheezing drone. Donaldson can’t quite hit high notes, but neither can Lennox; his frail voice falters at such registers. It’s painful to listen to, but such cracking helps convey an emotional loss that can’t be enunciated otherwise.

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