[Guided by Voices-2008]
Sometime between Mag Earwhig [Matador-1997], the Ric Ocasek-produced Do the Collapse [TVT-1999] and 2001's excellent Isolation Drills, [TVT-2001], those who'd been hoping Guided by Voices would return to the lo-fi terrain of previous discs had to give up the ghost, and either wear out their copies of the classic Bee Thousand [Matador-1994] album or get with the program, resigning themselves to the fact that Bob Pollard wanted his loveable band of Bud-swilling renegades to play in the big leagues and wasn't looking back. We welcomed it, wholeheartedly.
Almost half a decade has passed since the much-beloved Guided by Voices was put to rest, which is nothing in terms of hang time these days, but for a song factory like Pollard this was no idle time. After a myriad of releases since then--including more than half a dozen solo albums (!), two of which he released on the same day a year ago this week--Pollard decided to go the band route once again with Boston Spaceships on the mid-period, lo-fi, GbV-sounding Brown Submarine. So the question is, was the self-deprecating, toiled-related album title (and obvious reference to his beloved Beatles), a knowing admission of the subpar quality of the disc in question? Perhaps. But we're sorry to say, it's not entirely off the mark.
You broke up GbV for this, Uncle Bob? Really?
Chris Cornell (right) with producer Timbaland
We don't care if Timbaland used to go record shopping with Mark Arm, roadied for Tad, or cooked up smack with Layne Stayley using one of Artis' spoons, he has helped Chris Cornell squander whatever fan-based goodwill he had left. Period.
Gen-X, you now have your own version of Rod Stewart. [shudder]
Dig Your Own Soul
[Big Brother/Warner Bros-2008]
To label a multi-platinum populist act like Oasis an acquired taste these days is a misnomer for sure. But like certain veteran acts--Peter Gabriel comes to mind, albeit for different reasons--their music is only of interest to the faithful at this point. This is due in large part to the scattershot nature of their releases post-1995's What The Story, Morning Glory? [Epic], still their crowning achievement and one of the stellar rock records of the '90s.
So, you may lazily inquire, what have the infamous Brothers Gallagher cooked up this time? We're glad you asked.
For starters, the album is a much fuller sounding production than anything else in their catalog, which facilitates pushing to the forefront the psychedelic strains evident in quite a bit of their music. (Think “D’ya Know What I Mean” from Be Here Now [Epic-1997].) But also the rockers stomp a little harder—thanks to now-former drummer Zak Starkey—and the ballads have a bit more sonic detail to them. That they sound better doesn’t translate to them actually being better, however, but there’s some good stuff on here, regardless.
Needless to say, there’s nothing necessarily new or groundbreaking on Dig Your Own Soul. And it’s a safe bet no one who rightfully or not has dismissed Oasis in the past will be swayed to reconsider by any of it. But “The Shock of Lightning” will be a big crowd pleaser—deservedly so: it’s one of Noel Gallagher’s best rockers ever—while “The Turning”, “Falling Down” and “Ain’t Got Nothin’” show Oasis are willing to get out of their comfort zone—even if it’s just a step or two—and not embarrass themselves. You know what we mean?
It's been said that Rundgren’s recent stint in The New Cars got him in the mood to belt out some arena-ready, guitar rock. We’d really like to hear that record. ‘Cause instead, what we’ve got here is stale, retread riffs and canned drums, on uninspiring, half-baked songs wrapped in a demo-quality production circa '89, that is surely an inside joke and play on the both the album title and label.
After the widely-acclaimed Liars [Sanctuary-2004] we thought maybe TR was gonna take his music seriously again. No dice. (It's not completely a wash: hopefully, a piano-based version of "Courage"--with its classic Rundgren chord changes--exists out there somewhere; the Liars outtake-sounding "Today" ain't bad.) Better luck next time. You too, Todd.