The Skygreen Leopards
In 2001, when Glenn Donaldson formed the Skygreen Leopards with fellow Bay Area denizen Donovan Quinn, the cofounder of the Jewelled Antler collective was already in a long list of projects: Thuja, Der Teenage Panzer Korps, the Ivytree (a.k.a. Birdtree), Franciscan Hobbies, the Blithe Sons and more. Yet Donaldson's insanely hectic schedule didn't stop the Leopards from dropping six albums and an EP over the next six years. On early records (2001's I Dreamed She Rode on a Pink Gazelle & Other Dreams for example) the duo improvised whimsical acoustic folk-pop -- think the Everly Brothers or Monkees filtered through early '90s indie rock, vintage psychedelia and nature-based mysticism. Around 2003, however, Donaldson and Quinn started composing actual tunes. They also assembled a backing band loosely modeled after legendary California rural rockers from the late '60s: Relatively Clean Rivers, Country Weather and, of course, American Beauty-era Grateful Dead. The appropriately named Skyband helped make 2006's Disciples of California a fusion of simple indie pop and country-tinged vibrations. In other words, it was better than anything by Beechwood Sparks.