Guided by Voices

Mag Earwhig!

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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

After Bee Thousand gave Guided By Voices a wider audience, it became evident that Robert Pollard saw himself as more than just the band's songwriter and frontman, and as his career ambitions grew, he became increasingly frustrated with the limitations of his band. Matters came to a head prior to the recording of Mag Earwhig! as Pollard broke ties with longtime guitarist and fellow songwriter Tobin Sprout and fired the rest of the group. While Pollard and Sprout soon buried the hatchet, Sprout opted not to stay on as a full-time member of the group, and Pollard was now Guided By Voices' uncontested leader. He hired Cleveland-based blues/garage rockers Cobra Verde as his backing band for the next GBV album, and Mag Earwhig! sounded a good bit different as a result; while there were a few stray four-track experiments with Sprout scattered about, most of the album had a solid, professional sheen, and Cobra Verde rock harder and sound tighter than any of the lineups Pollard had worked with in the past. Unfortunately, his songwriting wasn't quite up to his usual standards, which the new clarity of this album makes all the more evident. Pollard is incapable of making an album without a few fine songs, and "Bulldog Skin," "Sad If I Lost It," "Not Behind the Fighter Jet," and "Portable Men's Society" certainly fill the bill, but it may well be significant that Mag Earwhig!'s most exciting song, the joyous "I Am a Tree," was written by Cobra Verde's Doug Gillard. While there's plenty to enjoy here, Robert Pollard's next experiment in hi-fi record making, Do the Collapse, would prove to be much more successful.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Guided by Voices 01:36 SpotifyAmazon
2 Guided by Voices 03:10 SpotifyAmazon
3 Guided by Voices 04:40 SpotifyAmazon
4 Guided by Voices 01:28 SpotifyAmazon
5 Guided by Voices 02:59 SpotifyAmazon
6 Guided by Voices 01:13 SpotifyAmazon
7 Guided by Voices 01:06 SpotifyAmazon
8 Guided by Voices 01:52 SpotifyAmazon
9 Guided by Voices 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
10 Guided by Voices 01:24 SpotifyAmazon
11 Guided by Voices 00:32 SpotifyAmazon
12 Guided by Voices 04:16 SpotifyAmazon
13 Guided by Voices 02:02 SpotifyAmazon
14 Guided by Voices 02:24 SpotifyAmazon
15 Guided by Voices 03:08 SpotifyAmazon
16 Guided by Voices 00:39 SpotifyAmazon
17 Guided by Voices 02:44 SpotifyAmazon
18 Guided by Voices 02:25 SpotifyAmazon
19 Guided by Voices 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
20 Guided by Voices 01:24 SpotifyAmazon
21 Guided by Voices 02:03 SpotifyAmazon
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