Thursday, December 14, 2017

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Sound Check

2/19/2014

cd GBVGuided By Voices

“Motivational Jumpsuit”

Guided By Voices Inc.

When Guided By Voices is on its game, the band can be very, very good. But let’s be honest, how often is GBV really on its game? Therefore, “Motivational Jumpsuit” is in many ways the perfect GBV album. “Littlest League Possible” is a stellar opening track that sets you up for a payoff that never comes. Everything after that just drones on, sinking ever deeper into a miasma of lo-fi navel-gazing. None of it is bad — Guided By Voices isn’t a bad band — but none of it comes anywhere near fulfilling the (perhaps outsized) expectations that invariably come with each GBV release. Ultimately, what the band has produced is the kind of inoffensive background album that you’ll feel good about playing when your smart friends come over for dinner. It’s hipster muzak masquerading as art. CV

 

Ames Chamber

cd St VincentSt. Vincent

“St. Vincent”

Republic Records

St. Vincent always makes me think of The Beatles. Just like how Lennon and McCartney were at their best when they had each other to keep them each in check, St. Vincent has always done its best work when kept on point by larger forces. When finally left to follow his own unchecked whims, Lennon was always a bit too weird and McCartney was always a bit too twee. Similarly, when not under the watchful eye of a David Byrne or Polyphonic Spree, St. Vincent’s work tends to become muddled, often collapsing under the weight of its own heady ambition. The Oklahoma-born artist’s eponymous release doesn’t run quite as far afield as some of her previous work, but still comes off feeling like a near miss. Some stuff is good: “Digital Witness” feels like a wink and a nod at Siouxsie and The Banshees and is the best track on the album, but mostly, you’re left wishing for another collaboration. CV

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