Since 2011, Mike's been a Drag City stalwart, first with Sic Alps, then as a solo and with
The Peacers-but Mike "The Mighty Flashlight" Fellows has been a behind-the-scenes
figure at Drag City since the early early days, playing live and on record with Royal Trux,
Silver Jews and Will Oldham. And in fact, Donovan first laid eyes on Fellows way back
in 1994, at yer legendary Drag City Invitational (we're a matchmaker, blush!)! A multi-hy-
phenate, Fellows has contributed to releases from Endless Boogie, Pigeons, Weeping
Bong Band and Prison in recent years. So when these two rambling musicians found
themselves in adjacent communities in upstate New York, Mike D brought Mike F into
the process of his new solo album. There The Mighty Flashlight turned ON, bringing his
recording, writing, performing and mixing talents to the tabletop with such a seasoned
vibe that he bought himself real estate in the album title itself! Something usually reserved
for characters of legend (like Kiss's adversary The Phantom of the Park) or giants of Dub
(King Tubby, Scientist, Lee Perry et al, amen).
The two-Mike combination makes the fourth Donovan solo alb a one that hits all
kinda high water marks for the most and the best of what he's capable of/plus inclined to
do. And MF wanted to hear something different out of MD's sound-so it could only be a
meeting of the minds in the end.
Mike D's music, in all phases, takes the form of a next-phase roots-pop: soaked in the
traditional waters of rock and roll and passed through a variety of after-punk sonic sieves,
highlighted with DIY and lo-fi values. and making a jolly hallucinatory racket, at that! He
prefers a particular density of obtuse angles colliding sweet and hot noise, an arrangement
he has perfected over all his Sic Alps/solo/The Peacers years; his innate understanding
of the mechanics of a pop song wends purposefully through the junk-strewn landscape,
sharing secrets with cipher in hand. Playing in this cracked kingdom of sound/garden of
verse, Mighty Flashlight alternately accents and balances Mike's eccentricities with his
playing and knob-spinning-and with the Flashlight shining bright upon him, Donovan's
serpentine path becomes ever so much more elastic, heightened from line to line, change
to change, its motility creating different shapes in our ears. Mighty's own kind of stereo
imagining informs Donovan's smoky subterranea with additional depth of field, while still
allowing all the wayward details within the arrangement to diverge as one.
Mike and Mighty wind it all together: art punk utterance and top 40 radio junk of yore,
the primitivity that formed recorded music in its youth, honkytonk romanticism, liminal
chamber-folk and ever-present disassociated psychedelia, transformed via self-medica-
tion into a gleeful, extramusical ennui while giving the listener impetus to sing along with
Mike's patented unlikely combos of melody and lyric, as re:
"The Godly Orator said / Mike can you play us / a pile of old words from a can"
"When you went inside the globe / and I stood outside the show/
the sky looked prepared to snow"
"Here comes/ here comes/the missing drum"
Sonoumbulant! Sequiturial! Munificent! The sprawl of sounds and tunes, wayward, yet
compact, is so easy to admire. It might be easier when you sing 'em, though-but it's eas-
iest of all when Mike does! Slip inside