As the debut offering from Pink Frost/Big Takeover Records, the label founded by Jack Rabid and Jeff Kelson of The Big Takeover, Doug Gillard's Salamander is an impressive representation of his indie rock pedigree and proof that there will be life after Guided by Voices. Gillard, best known as the guitarist in GBV since 1997 and responsible for the band's classic "I Am a Tree," has also released music with Death of Samantha, Gem, Cobra Verde and as part of Lifeguards with GBV principal Robert Pollard. But Salamander is Gillard's most cohesive work yet as evidenced by the sweet Beatles-like melody that moves "Going Back (To You)." If the fragmented pop of "Fate, Say It Again" holds Pollard's influence, it -- like every tune here -- also boasts Gillard's musical prowess. The man tackles nearly every instrument (with the exception of drums on a trio of tunes) giving life to rockers like "Symbols, Signs" and "Drip-Nose Boy." And damn if the inspiring "Give Me Something" and the brilliant, upbeat "Valpolicella" aren't future classics of indie rock.
by John D. Luerssen