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Mag Earwhig!
Guided By Voices
Mag Earwhig!
Genres: Alternative Rock, Rock
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1

When the subject of Guided by Voices arose in a rock chatroom, someone remarked, "They're practically classic rock these days." I'm sure nothing would please GBV prime mover Robert Pollard more. A common misconception is t...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Guided By Voices
Title: Mag Earwhig!
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Matador Records/Ada
Original Release Date: 5/20/1997
Release Date: 5/20/1997
Genres: Alternative Rock, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, American Alternative
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 744861024125, 744861024149

When the subject of Guided by Voices arose in a rock chatroom, someone remarked, "They're practically classic rock these days." I'm sure nothing would please GBV prime mover Robert Pollard more. A common misconception is that today's musician is hung up on "breaking new ground," seeking that untapped vein that will keep him or her munching at the trough of plenty for the next three or four records. It would be far closer to the truth to say that most folk trying to earn a living the indie rock way ("Send for our training video today!") are looking merely for an uncrowded train car to which they can quietly hitch their cabooses. Pollard makes no secret of the fact that he's a musical archivist, more interested in rekindling rock history's divine moments than in keeping his finger on the erratic, racing pulse of today's youthful consumer--inevitably leading to a glut of corporate-coated, disposable bands like Collective Soul, Bush, and Silverchair. The first two tracks on Mag Earwhig seem intent on clearing the record while updating us on Pollard's personal musings. "Can't Hear The Revolution," the first cut, somewhat distances Pollard and the so-called "lo-fi" movement, a nebulous assemblage of DIY homeboys with four-track recorders that he certainly helped to establish credibly (and will never completely abandon). "Sad If I Lost It" is a song about music making as both obsession and salvation, which explains why Pollard puts out as much of his endless catalog of tunes as possible; instead of waiting out the peaks and valleys of a long career, he'd rather unload the whole bundle while his creative engine is still in racing fettle. Many of the GBV faithful are up in arms over Pollard's decision to drop his long-standing backup band, which included Toby Sprout and Mitch Mitchell on guitars as well as drummer Kevin Fennell. While he continues to record and compose with Sprout (and his brother Jim Pollard), Cleveland's Cobra Verde have stepped in as Pollard's new rock & roll wrecking crew. The additional muscle and skill these fellows wield is evident on big anthem rockers like "I Am A Tree" (written by Cobra Verde guitarist Doug Gillard), "Not Behind the Fighter Jets" and "Jane of the Waking Universe." These three numbers along with the first single "Bulldog Skin" (a song about his love of British pop music) indicate Pollard's return to his '70s trash and treasure, incorporating the can't-miss, ringing power-pop coils of catchy ancestors like Badfinger, Big Star, Dwight Twilley, and the Raspberries. The best example of Cobra Verde's noisy eclecticism bonding with Pollard's pop horse sense comes on the 1:23-minute gem, "Mute Superstar," which starts out like an early Wire guitar cruncher, then opens a sunny window for some Beatles psychedelia. He gathers those lovely acoustic ballad bits abundantly about him, the finest being "I Am Produced," a quickie about putting your life on record, and the wistfully McCartney-like "Now To War." In the end, most critics judge any new Guided by Voices product by its ratio of heavenly pop to Pollard's noodly abstractions, and so Mag Earwhig keeps up with past masterpieces like Bee Thousand and Propellor. Yet there is more afoot here than ear candy, as Pollard breaks in a talented new supporting cast while traveling back to the clarity of times when popular music didn't suck. The present musical climate dominated by unbearably bland bands and useless electronica, Pollard's journey through the past is a blast of forward thinking. --John Chandler

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CD Reviews

Really cohesive
Micah Newman | Fort Worth, TX United States | 06/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is definitely the most overlooked GBV album, and I can't get over how well it holds together as a whole. Although the preceding _Under the Bushes_ has perhaps more "standout" tracks, _Mag Earwhig_ is a more complete album and sounds less cobbled-together. This is probably the GBV album I'd point someone to after the indispensable "Bee Thousand", "Alien Lanes", and "Isolation Drills". _Mag Earwhig_ is packed with tunes that gradually come out and wrap around your brain, like all classic GBV albums."
The pefect Guided By Voices album.
D. Bagley | AQ, NY | 04/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although "Alien Lanes" to me captures their sound best, "Mag Earwhig!" is the perfect balance of their lo-fi and hi-fi sound.
The songs range from short and fast to long and well composed.
In my opinion this is their finest, but it's all subjective, just if you are new, get this one as a first, that way you can travel from "Bee Thousand" to sat "Isolation Drills" without being shocked.
But alone on this albums merits, GBV really shine."
This Earwhig is Mag
John E. Pioli | Easton, CT United States | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Every GBV fan has a different opinion over this album, and for that matter everything GBV has ever done. My opinion: this is the MOST WELL-ROUNDED ALBUM THEY HAVE DONE THUS FAR.Not to down-play any other album they have made so far, but this one contains every element of their career. Examples: Lo-fi recordings AND hi-fi recordings next to each other, snippet songs intertwined with well-rounded completed pieces, etc.Furthermore, the songwriting is peak here. Just to pick a few:SAD IF I LOST IT is impossible to imagine on any album before this one; a definite break-through for GBV.LEARNING TO HUNT - the first blatant romance song to appear on a GBV record; another break-through which would serve them on future albums.I AM A TREE, MUTE SUPERSTAR, PORTABLE MEN'S SOCIETY - cleverly crafted, as well as perfectly executed. The drive in these songs makes them perfect for highway driving and mosh pits alike.MAG EARWHIG, OLD GRUNT, CHOKING TARA - 3 songs that you definitely will not "get" the first time you listen to them, but will grow on you with further listening; being "snippets" (songs under 1:30 and feel like drafts), these would have fit well on the ALIEN LANES album, but thankfully were held onto for this collection.THE FINEST JOKE..., JANE OF THE WAKING UNIVERSE, BOMB IN THE BEE-HIVE, KNOCK EM FLYIN' - classic GBV. Period. These would have fit on any album, but after a few listens you begin to believe they were saved for just the right occasion.All in all, every song on this album is perfectly unique and the results are that the songs never get old. You wouldn't want another second to any of the shorter songs, and if you edited the longer ones they would feel incomplete.If you are new to GBV, I reccommend this album first. Then, pick up UNDER THE BUSHES..., BEE THOUSAND, and UNIVERSAL TRUTHS. If you are a longtime fan and don't own this yet, shame on you. Stop what you are doing. Put one in your check-out cart."