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** 1/2 GUIDED BY VOICES, "Mag Earwhig!" Matador

May 18, 1997|Sara Scribner

Known for bringing the sounds of Cheap Trick, the Who and the Beatles into the basement and mussing them up with sloppy tape whirs, echo-chamber vocals and wondrous, frayed guitar melodies, the members of Guided by Voices have been hailed as low-fi heroes. "Under the Bushes Under the Stars," last year's album, seemed to be the band's stab at the mainstream, and while it was accessible, it was met with mixed reviews.

Guided by Voices is now just songwriter Robert Pollard, who's joined by Cleveland band Cobra Verde for GBV's 12th full-length release. It's a whopping package of 21 songs that bounce from disjointed sonic haikus to some piercingly stunning highs. "Sad If I Lost It" and "Learning to Hunt" smack of Sebadoh's softer moments; "Not Behind the Fighter Jet" and "Bulldog Skin" are courageous despite their half-done feel.

As usual, you have to sort through layers of static, interference and guitar squeals to get to Pollard's words. When you hear the lyrics for "I Am Produced"--"I am trapped, tricked, packaged and shipped out"--you understand his uncommercial love for noise.

This is worth sifting through--if you have the patience.


Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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