curious quail


Lately we’ve noticed that many of you are Nintendo Game Boy fans. You’ve been incorporating references to the Game Boy, and even its sounds, into your submissions. See a few highlights below.

1. Tiny Desk Contest Entrant: Curious Quail (Mike Shirley-Donnelly, Erin Keely, Abe Myers, Joey Guthrie and Alan Chen)

City: San Jose, Calif.

Original Song: “Reconstruction” (above)

Kudos for making use of office supplies! We love the pencil-drumming. Viewers, see if you can spot the Lite-Brite.

2. Tiny Desk Contest Entrant: Danimal Cannon (Daniel Behrens)

City: Buffalo, N.Y.

Original Song: “Axis”

“I’d like to introduce to you to my band. Right here we have Mr. Game Boy, Mr. Flashcard.” Watch as Behrens shreds his electric guitar to the sounds of Game Boy.

3. Tiny Desk Entrant: Jonathan Mann

City: Jersey City, N.J.

Original Song: As The Icons of My Youth Fall Silent”

This one made us smile, especially the refrain "I’m Mario in my dreams tonight.”

Every week we’ll share some of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest entries that stood out to us. To be clear: if your video doesn’t appear here, don’t panic — your entry is still eligible to win (as long as it follows these rules)!


I’d actually never this song without the camera clicks until just now on KSJS. The camera clicks are amazing and brilliant, but I love that this song is still stellar without them. 

Mike Shirley-Donnelly, you are a fantastic songwriter. 

Some of the faces change, but not the game, not the tune…
- Matthew Good


If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ve probably noticed some differences in the above picture.

When I started this “band” in 2008 it was honestly meant to be a solo project. I mean sure, I didn’t perform under my own name because I’ve always found that self-serving and icky (plus my last name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) but despite the project having a “band name”, I had every intention of being a solo artist.

Well, things started to change pretty quickly. I added band members. First one, then two, then things just started to get out of control. Suddenly we had this running joke about me “collecting” band members, or how the band could acquire new members during menial tasks like going to the restroom or getting our oil changed.

We peaked at an official roster of 7, with guests on stage making a max of 8 at any given moment. This musically allowed us a lot of freedom to do the myriad of things I had tracked on our two releases, but on the flipside made us a damned nightmare for the sound engineers at most music venues.

After our performance with City Lights Theater Company we all took stock of what we want out of this band and how far we are willing to take it. As “my” project, I’m fully committed to Curious Quail and I asked everyone in the band if they wanted to go to the next level with me, making it clear that if anyone felt it wasn’t a good fit for them there would be no hard feelings. The response from most of the band was a resounding “Let’s do this!” Unfortunately, the rock and roll lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and we are sad to announce that both Gregory and Sean have decided to let the band go ahead without them.

We are sad to lose them, their character, their energy, their uniqueness and musical ability, but after soul searching they both felt the “doing music as a career” thing wasn’t going to be compatible with their lifestyles and gracefully bowed out.

Which brings me to that handsome shadowy figure in the center of the image above. Meet Abe. He’s a dear friend of the band, a very talented musician and Curious Quail’s new lead guitarist. Along with Joey and Alan he will be sharing keyboard responsibilities until a time wherein we find that elusive indie rock keyboardist / chiptuner to join our merry band, but real talk: we’re not holding our breath. We’re going to remain a 5-piece for the foreseeable future.

On August 23rd we return to Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco with Abe on stage, we will be debuting songs from our new record, After The Lights Failed and beginning a Kickstarter campaign to help us fund the production of that album at Dirt Room with Jon Devoto and Brad Dollar, whose production credits include The National, The Stone Foxes, Finish Ticket and The Matches. While I will always stay true to the ‘Quail sound, we are tracking this new record as a band. The first two records were performed and recorded almost entirely by myself, so it’s exciting to take everyone into a studio and let someone else have the audio engineer reins while we create something together as a (space)team of musicians.

We have a lot of fun things in store for those of you who’ve stuck with us, requested us on radio, helped us get to BFD, bought our CDs, shirts, plastered our stickers everywhere, watched our Nostalgia Night show and most importantly, supported music that you truly cared about.

The Kickstarter launches August 12th, and anyone who pledges at least $5 gets a digital download of the album as well as a special thanks in the liner notes. There are much higher reward levels and really awesome prizes but even at the base level backing our campaign is a pre-order of this new record that we can’t wait to share with you.

Abe, Alan, Erin Joey and I can’t thank you enough for all the support.
We ♥ You all. See you at Bottom of the Hill!

It’s not often that I get this excited about a release (okay, that’s not true, but I am more excited about this than most things I hype.)

San Francisco’s CURIOUS QUAIL are heading back into our lives at the end of the month with their second album “After the Lights Failed” at the end of the month. This is significant since they were the architects of one of my favorite albums of 2012, their debut “Instant Gratification.” So to complicate things they have released their newest single entitled “Instant Gratification”, which is not on the first album but is on the new one. (Got it? Don’t worry it all makes sense)

One of the reasons I am so looking forward to this album is because I feel I have watched the entire birthing process. The cool thing about twitter and instagram is that bands will often give you insight into how the record is taking shape and where they are in the recording sessions. You see pics of the band at work and hints about song direction appear in tweets (when not about video games that is).

So to see the finished product be such a wondrous slice of perfection is gratifying. The band has heightened the guitar work to be a bit more crunchy ( and less Smashing Pumpkinsesque) while retaining the softer violins and vocal work to highlight the lyrics about how we as a people have lost the sheer joy of human interaction amongst the 21st century hum of faux communication. I am confident this taste will only whet your appetite for the entire album when it is released on May 30th. I am counting the days for sure.

Made with SoundCloud

Curious Quail Vl | Bottom of the Hill | San Francisco, CA | 5.9.15 | Jennifer R. Biggerstaff Photography

Because we all need some beauty in our lives.

And because the band members are friends, and my husband bangs on drums and bells.

Also, if you like what you hear, the band is releasing a new album! At a show! That is FREE! And ALL AGES!

Where: San Pedro Square Market (87 N. San Pedro Street, San Jose)

When: June 30, 7 p.m.

Made with SoundCloud

We work with a lot of amazingly talented bands, and to give back to them we’ve decided to start dropping covers of their music so anyone who listens to us might check them out and spread the love.

Picture Atlantic is a band that anyone who listens to us would most likely appreciate. They’re incredibly talented, hardworking and they’re just nerdy enough to be playing Rockage with us in February.

Here’s Mike doing a solo acoustic cover of “With One Clipped Wing” off their 2010 album, “When Everything is Numbers”.

We’ve been playing shows with these guys for years, been huge fans all along, and now we’re rehearsal studio neighbors so they seemed a fitting choice for our first Appreciation Cover.

Check them out on all relevant social media!



I can’t wait to see the final cut but in the meantime here’s a teaser of Curious Quail’s upcoming documentary on the making of their new album After The Lights Failed

TEASER // Curious Quail: The Making of AFTER THE LIGHTS FAILED (by CuriousQuail)


VIDEO PREMIERE! Our drummer Joey HAND DREW AND ANIMATED this music video for our song “Instant Gratification”. 
EVERYTHING in this video was done by Joey by drawing stuff, coloring it, making it poseable and then filming it in stop motion with his iPhone.