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coverpic flag US-Ohio - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 9 - 07/20/97

Guided By Voices
Mag Earwhig!

Haven't even placed their 1996-release, Under The Bushes, Under The Stars up on the shelf, Guided By Voices is back again with a new album. Their two main members, Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout, have even had the time to put out solo records since then, Not In My Airforce and Carnival Boy, respectively. This is their thirteenth album (I think), and for the first time it sounds like they have been in a real studio (on some of the songs, that is). This may mean that this is their first LP with better sound than their bootlegs (!).

It also seems like Robert Pollard has found himself a new Guided By Voices (and yes, I think we must admit that it's his band). Most of the musicians on Mag Earwhig! is from Cobra Verde (Cleveland band with roots back to the theatrical Death Of Samantha), but Tobin Sprout and some of the old members are still present on some of the songs. I have to admit I had my doubt when I heard that Mr. Pollard was the only remaining member from their last album, as Tobin Sprout's album is the far better of the two GBV-guitarists solo releases. It therefore looks like Tobin Sprout fans has to look elsewhere for his songs in the future, but as long as he is releasing records under his own name, we cannot complaint. Check also out his alter ego, Bevil Web.

On this record, GBV has turned into a tight rocking unit, and Robert Pollard's songs are better than ever. The first song that really made me jump in the chair, however, was I Am A Tree by newcomer Doug Gillard. This song is so fabulously catchy that it nearly gets on your nerves, and is good enough reason to check out earlier releases by Cobra Verde (2 LP's and a handful of singles on Scat, SubPop, Get Hip among others). And the hits just keep coming, Bulldog Skin, Not Behind The Fighter Jet, Little Lines and Jane Of The Waking Universe (there are even better titles than this on the album), a song I am willing to bet is made 500 times before. GBV is more Beatles than ever on Mag Earwhig!, and on Learning To Hunt, Robert Pollard is as close to John Lennon as he possibly can get. There are more gems here, and 4-5 spins is enough to convince me that Mag Earwhig! is Guided By Voices' best record so far. Buy!

Copyright © 1997 Pingo e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Guided By Voices articles/reviews: Half Smiles of the Decomposed, Let's Go Eat The Factory, The Charlotte, Leicester, UK, 28.09.03.

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