http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/79bbcb188e58f10bae616e5332020e3319d028e9.jpg Mag Earwhig!

Guided By Voices

Mag Earwhig!

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
May 23, 1997

With their 12th album, Dayton, Ohio, low-fi popsters Guided by Voices continue to pursue new avenues of growth. On last year's Under the Bushes, Under the Stars, GBV finally checked into a proper studio and achieved nearly mid-fi results. Here, leader Bob Pollard takes a much bigger leap — he switches bands. Pollard recorded most of Mag Earwhig! with members of Cleveland neoglam rockers Cobra Verde, and the difference is immediately striking.

Till now, the nonchalance of Pollard's uncannily catchy songwriting, a unique fusion of English-classic and indie-contemporary styles, has been mirrored in the music's execution. But these guys from Cobra Verde — guitarists John Petkovic and Doug Gillard, bassist Don Depew and drummer Dave Swanson — simply rock harder than the old GBV, scrapping the off-handedness that goes hand in hand with low-fi. "Bulldog Skin" and "Mute Superstar" swagger where before they might have just staggered. The old band's appearances on a few of Mag Earwhig!'s cuts not only emphasize the contrast but also remind us that limitations aren't necessarily charms, as when longtime GBV timekeeper Kevin Fennell drags the tempo, per usual, on "The Finest Joke Is Upon Us." Under the Bushes was purportedly the first GBV record you could turn up loud; Mag Earwhig! is the first one you can head-fling to convincingly.

Also surprising are the stretches of seeming lucidity in Pollard's notoriously obtuse lyrics. The tender, nearingsappy "Learning to Hunt" could be about and for his kids. Elsewhere he ruminates on his indie-rock fame ("I Am Produced," "Mute Superstar"), recalling Steve Malkmus of label mates Pavement. And like that once-low-fi band did a few years back, Guided by Voices are proving that they can play it clear and straight if they want to — without losing who they are.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Whoomp! (There It Is)”

    Tag Team | 1993

    Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

    More Song Stories entries »