Pass the dust, I think I'm Bowie
- special introductory paragraph!
- Can I Ride double-7"
- Vibracobra 7"
- Cor-Crane Secret
- El Cid 7"
- Tilebreaker 7"
- Today's Active Lifestyles
- Celebrate The New Dark Age EP
- This Eclipse EP
- Exploded Drawing
- In Prism
- Heavy Detour 7"
This is the band I've seen live more than
any other - 16 times in a span of three and a half years. And anybody
who has sat down and spent time learning to love the band's dissonant
beauty can't blame
me a bit. As far as taking basic pop song structure and teaching
it to do things that basic pop song structure isn't supposed to do, Polvo have
always been 'on the ball' and 'ahead of their game' and 'at the top of the league'
and 'never once having trouble with Phil Niekro's infamous knuckleball,'
rivalled only by
fellow geniuses The Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and tinny guitar pioneers
Sonic Youth. So what makes Polvo as good as or better than these two bands?
Well, nothing really. They write some great songs, though! Mr. Ashley Bowie
his fingers up and down the strings, makes little squiggly noises with his "whangy
bar" as musicians call it, and bounces his
pick up and down on the fretboard for her pleasure while Mr. David Brylawski
plays groovin' classic rock-type chords smooth as marmoleum, Mr. Steven Popson thuds and
bwoomps a heavy ass rhythmic bass, and Mr. Eddie Watkins drums until he quits and Brian Walsby replaces him.
So Polvo began as a basic Sonic Youth/Dinosaur
Jr. indie rock follower band,
quickly progressed into a challenging bright young weird guitar combo, then
settled into a comfortable role as creative poptone strummers,
more concerned with recording memorable music Beatles style than
with continuing to introduce listeners to the many delightful noises
made possible by modern electric musical equipment. They're from Chapel Hill, NC, which is where I went to college
which is why I've seen them live so many times. Oh that Cat's
Cradle. And hey, how about that Local 506? And hey! I nearly forgot La
Terraza! Oh, the times I had. I hated my classes,
sure, but it was a fine little town with some great musical bands for me to
enjoy - Polvo, Superchunk, Erectus Monotone (Raleigh, but that counts....),
Flat Duo Jets, Zen Frisbee, Pipe, Wiggle - oh, the names just go on and on and
on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Polvo was the best, though.
Can I Ride double-7" - Kitchen Puff 1990 (re-released as Polvo EP on Jesus Christ Records 1995)
This is just your basic hip '90s guitar indie rock - but good!
Putting a clear emphasis on hook creation (rather than the annoying tinny
dissonance that so ruined many a fine mid-period Sonic Youth song), these timid
young lads make it clear that you don't have to feign angst
or scream like a monkey to create bold suave young music (although, if you
want to make loads of cash, you probably should; kids just love angst
and screaming monkeys); you just need to have half a brain and a decent voice.
Ash "David Jones" Bowie has both. (Did you hear that, Mr. Bowie??? You have
half a brain!!! Maybe I should rethink my compliments.) There are seven songs on
this EP, and six of them are fantastic. A couple of weak vocals threaten to strip the tunes of their low-rent
grandeur, but only barely. Even if the melodies weren't great (they
are), the guitars
slide, slither, and buzz like only
music made on a limited budget can (especially in the otherworldly instrumental
"Snake Fist Fighter"), and the whole stinging garagey tone of the record
just tears the roof of the place, emotionally
speaking. I use too many parentheses (go fuck yourself).
I don't know, dude. I don't listen to it every day, but it
deserves at least an 8 1/2 if only to celebrate the fact that they could come up with
this many killer pop anthems at such an early point in their career. Heck,
a well respected Raleigh music critic named Ross Grady once stated that it
was the only Polvo record he could even sit through! So do yourself a favor
and follow the advice of a well respected Raleigh music critic; I haven't
actually bought it for myself, but that's only because it went out of print one second after it went on sale.
Vibracobra 7" - Rockville 1991
This early recording of "Vibracobra" lacks the arpeggiated intro of the
LP version and is marred by a trebly over-reverbed mix, yet its
compositional strength and Eastern-tinged atmosphere shine through loud
and clear like a beacon in the night of seatime. But enough of this
ASS-KISSING BULLSHIT, let's talk about the b-side.
"The Drill" is the first Polvo song that I ever loved. I'm pretty sure
I'd already seen and been confused by the band's live show once or twice
before they added this song to their set list (though I can't verify
this -- it was half my life ago); my new-fangled college friends loved
this local group (at the expense of Dillon Fence!), but to me their
double-single sounded like Sonic Dinosaur and the unreleased live songs
just sounded like hookless weird ugliness to me -- like Sonic Youth done
wrong. If you've heard Cor-Crane Secret, maybe you can
understand why I felt this way! That is one strange 'indie rock'
But when I heard them play "The Drill" for the first time, I went bogus!
Finally, a Polvo song that was straight-ahead ass-kicking rock
music! Not only that, but it was also smart and exceedingly
well-arranged rock music, exciting my ear senses with the (1) exotic
tap-and-bend guitar lick and dramatic drum build-up of the intro; (2)
solo below-the-peg pluck-introduction of the main riff; (3) full-on band
attack, highlighted by a second guitar whipping out two descending
chords in opposition to the main riff's pissed-off three-chord garage
rock; (4) evocative lyrics and vocal delivery of the verse ("I'll
decipher it, I know that I can - at least I hope it's not beyond me
now.... I TRYYYYYY to keep the conversation alive!"); (5) worried mood
and dual vocal approach of the chorus; (6) killer rise-and-fall chord
sequence following the chorus; (7) 2-6 again; and (8) single ringing
above-the-neck strum and unsettled distorted bass thumps of the
fade-out. I heard it, I loved it, I needed it recorded, it was
recorded, I illegally taped it, I listened to it often, I eventually
lost the tape, a guy sent me an MP3 copy 12 years later, and I LOVED IT
Did I ever tell you I tried out to be the guitarist in "Pipe" once? Oh,
the things we do for youth.
Say, you're young. Do college towns still have 'scenesters' and people
who complain about 'scenesters'? If memory serves, I was both! I was
also self-centered, elitist, immature, judgmental, pimply, boring and
hateful. Do college towns still have people like that?
In conclusion, the songs deserve a 9, but the mix is so rotten I can't
possibly go higher than an 8. Who mixed this thing anyway? Some guy
with peanut butter in his ears!?
Ha ha! "Peanut butter in his ears"! The joke there is that peanut
butter comes from "ears" of corn. But that's why they call me 'the
No hang on, it's 'the runny one.' (Gonorrhea.)
Cor-Crane Secret - Merge 1992.
Weird record. Almost unlistenable in its high-pitched
tunelessness but just give it a chance - behind the ruckus is some really
well-thought-out original music. The main problem that I initially had with
this record is that it always seemed like the band was playing the wrong
the two guitar lines would totally clash or the chord sequence as a whole
would just seem
unnatural and ugly to my ear. And, worst of all, aside from the Eastern-tinged
it seemed like all the songs were made up on the spot - and NOTHING pisses
me off more than improvisation in rock and roll music! Who the fuck do
them jazz assholes think they're tryin' to kid?
But then what
happened? I saw them live at La Terraza about two weeks after the album
came out, and my jaw dropped to the floor. Those bastards recreated, note for
note, the studio madness of "Kalgon," "Bend Or Break," "Duped" (complete with
strategically placed feedback blasts), and a few others - to a degree so intense
that Ash found himself bleeding real blood all over his normally
non-blood-soaked guitar. Oh golly, I hate to seem
like one of those prissies who calls music a "religious experience," but I
swear I felt something holy for a good 45 minutes in that
smoky little club in Chapel Hill.
Of course, after that show, I was hooked.
I went back and listened more closely to the album and was thrown across my
tiny dorm room by how creative the tracks were. Directionless? No.
Not at all. There's all kinds of repetition in there. Who needs that cliche'd
"verse-chorus-guitar solo" structure anyway? I'll tell you who. The Smashing Pumpkins, and their hits.
If you're not adverse to putting thought into your listeninging, this album will floor you. What a tremendous band. So soon after their indie rock debut, they were
able to come up with a full-length LP of challenging and brilliant new guitar rock. The new Trouser Press Record Guide calls
them "prog rock for the '90s" and says that their songs don't go anywhere. I
agree that this music has more in common with Yes and ELP than with Nirvana
and Pearl Jam, but it doesn't bore me at all. Nothing's more exciting to me
than music with new ideas. Polvo offers that. Most bands don't. At least
give them credit for that, even if their ditties make you fidget.
And let me say something else here, for the record - I feel honored to have
dwelt in Chapel Hill for four and a half years because I know that I lived in
the same town as not just one of the best bands in the Triangle area, but one
of the best bands in the world.
Add your thoughts?
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Tyler Jenks)
Very few bands these days seem to be truly innovative. Polvo is in a
category all of it's own. After a short period of time, I grew to
realize how incredibly dynamic this album was. Polvo is most definitely
I've listened to all the albums repeatedly (except for the kitchen ep) and
in my unprofessional opinion, this album is polvo's absolute best, rivaled
only by this eclipse, which if were full length, would all the better.
exploded drawing has bright spots, but lacks the formality and
coherent (as coherent as they can get) push that cor-crane does.
shapes, well, i don't want to piss anyone off, so i'll keep my
mouth shut. that's just my opinion, but i think it's pretty justified.
- email@example.com (Will Quackenbush)
"Channel Changer" could possibly have been one of the 10 best songs of '92.
What a lament on growing up. "A sucker for asking is proud enough to know."
Just go ahead and tear my heart out, and put yr cig out in it. Quite
possibly the best (only?) use of glockenspiel since "Born to Run," beside
Superchunk's cover of Sebadoh's "It's So Hard to Fall in Love." Everything
after that is wonderful gravy.
DID THAT GUY SAY CORE CRANE SOUNDED UGLY, WRONG OR INTENTIONALLY UN
HARMONIZED? I THINK ITS FUNNY THAT HE Said HE HATES ROCK N' ROLL IMPROVE,
ISNT DOWN FOR JAZZ OR WHATEVER, UM, JUST BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW EXPERIMENTAL IS
WHERE ITS AT. aND THOSE JAZZ PROGRESSIONS MAKE THE MELODIC RING OF MINORS
EVEN MORE IRONIC. pOLVO HITS THE SPOT, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARENT LOOKING.
FUCKING RICH. iM SORRY iM TOO YOUNG TO HAVE GOTTEN A CHANCE TO SEE THEM.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Dan)
It appears to me this little "critic" has no idea of the articulation and
dimension this record has to offer. Core Crane Secret is the Core of
Polvo's sound and if you cant appreciate it than maby you don't really know
what they're all about. I feel like cutting out this fucker's eardrums so
that he can know the true meaning of "unlistenable" and "tuneless".
Polvo will always be my favorite band and Core Crane Secret is
definatly my favorite...Makes me melt like jelly in the sunshine....I fade the
lyrics out listening only to the music. Been some of my happiest times...I have
yet to meet a girl besides myself whos even heard polvo. What a shame.
Polvo's CDs are mighty hard to get hold of unless you resort to the internet. I recieved the first 2 today and I have already run through both of them 3 or 4 times each (I've been bored alright!). There is no denying there idiosyncrasy but they are certainly not the most listenable records ever. The instrumental noodlings and intensity and mess of the guitar tone seem to be getting on top of me in these first few listens, which is excrutiating because underneath the annoying noise there are a few fantastic ideas and melodies. I'm hoping they will grow on me and I will keep listening because I don't just dismiss albums that quickly because I've got an open mind (smug look on my face). On this one the best are probably tracks 2,3, the beginning and end of 5, and 8. I can't quite get into the rest. I might report back if a sudden transition takes place and these become my favourite albums of all time suddenly, but at the moment they both get a healthy 7 so as not to offend the band too much and have them smashing into my house (I won't tell them my address as well to make sure)!
Hey cheer up, they might grow on me!
(one week later)
Hey, I'm back and I want to apologise for my last completely asinine mail to this page. Cor Crane and Today's have both grown on me, and they are both great records worth listening to once they become familiar and you can hear beyond the mess.
I prefer Today's Active Lifestyle to this one, but Vibracobra is the best Polvo song I've heard. This is a great record actually. Full of interesting musicology that can't be heard anywhere else and that loose improvised feel giving it a raw edge. Channel Changer is awesome, as is track 9 which I forget the name of but it goes on about the ceiling being right above his head in the hallway ( just the same as always). Duped is awesome too. The rest is pretty much all good so get this record. I give it a solid 8 imaginable but it's too good to be an 8.
Er, I can't be bothered to send a separate email for Today's so I'll outline that. It's good. Gets a very high 8 from me.
- email@example.com (Travis)
You know what's a great album?
"Cor-crane secret" by Polvo, that's what! My brother gave me a copy a few weeks ago, and I can't get enough of it. So fuzzy! So beautiful! What about that high-pitched feedbacky-snap thing in "Duped?" That's awesome! I just can't think of anyone else to tell about it. 'Today's Modern Lifestyles', as cool as it is, kinda sounds like a dumbed-down 'Cor-Crane Secret' to me now.
Oooh, I've grown to love all your albums, too, Mr. Prindle! Especially Chicago XX. That is honestly one of my favorite albums in the world. So much smartness-disguised-as-zaniness! Except "Drinking Solves Problems." That song is awful. I mention it only so it doesn't seem like I'm kissing ass.
Keep on rockin'!
El Cid 7" (with Erectus Monotone) - Merge 1992
Erectus Monotone was one of my favorite local bands when I colleged in Chapel Hill, NC, and if there's any justice in this world, I'll review them some day. Until then, we have this split-single with Polvo that I forgot I owned until about a week ago when I found a copy on an old cassette -- along with three other singles I forgot I owned ("The Freewheelin' Mark Arm," The first Monkeywrench 7" and that Ian McKaye/Jeff Nelson "Egg Hunt" thing). This one's pretty inconsequential, but still a fun listen if you happen across it cheap enough.
The three tracks include (a) Erectus Monotone's terrific moody "Fragment" from their debut CD Erector Set (if you love this song, be warned! It's the only song on Erector Set that isn't a weird wiry herky-jerk semi-punkish trebly electrical slapass shorty), (b) an early, weaker version of Polvo's "In The Hand In The Sieve" that's not as tight as the LP version and makes the mistake of returning unnecessarily to the opening riff at the end instead of cutting it off where they SHOULD have, which is where they DID on the LP version, so IT'S NOT THAT BIG A DEAL, and (c) a Merging Of The Minds track by short-lived supergroup "Erectus Polvotone." This is the real appeal of the record, a monstrosity of fuzzy synth notes, megaphoned vocals, two crunchy up-down chords and the bass line from Sonic Youth's "Death Valley '69." In fact, if you think of it as a rewrite of "Death Valley '69," you'll probably like it even more, because it doesn't have Lydia Lunch on it. Think of all the fine albums that would exist today if they didn't have Lydia Lunch on them. It truly makes the mind wiglgl.
Well, that was certainly an interesting typo. DT's are awesome.
Well, they ARE! What, you don't like Dirty Tits?
Say... I think I just figured out what AC/DC's "D.T." is about! Shame it's an instrumental. With the combined songwriting talents of the Young brothers and Brian Johnson, we could have had a masterpiece like this:
(Lyrics theoretically by Young, Young, Johnson)
Well, I see her dancin' on the ballroom floor
I take her home, I wanna see some more! (heh heh)
She shakes and shimmies all through the night
Then she gets to lovin' and it gives me a fright!
She's got --- D.T.s!
Shakin' left and right!
All through the night!
Well, this dirty woman's got me COMIN' on strong! (heh heh)
She says, 'I'm starting to hallucinate, it's been so long!'
Then she starts a-tremblin' with her treasure chest (heh heh)
When it comes to filthy lovin', she's the best!
She's got --- D.T.s!
Shakin' left and right!
All through the night!
Upon my 'withdrawal,' she has 'seizures'! (heh heh)
Well, I was at the bar hangin' with the boys
She starts a-quiverin' with her mud-covered joys (heh heh)
Her mountain peaks were rich with clay (heh heh)
She shakes so much, dirt flies every which way! (heh heh)
Wet sticky soft earth sex!
She's got --- D.T.s!
Benzodiazepine-GABAa-chloride receptor complex!
She's having fatal rum fits!
And someone soiled her tits!
Get out those mud flaps, baby! (heh heh)
And take a drink from my skin beer bottle! (heh heh)
Add your thoughts?
Tilebreaker 7" - Merge 1993
Remember Polvo? And his dog that drooled all over the place? As a forerunner of album number B, this single was hardly a humdinger of a harbinger. The title track is a straightforward Sonic Youth-style indie guitar rock song -- an inoffensive diversion from the difficult mathematical non-catchiness of Jennifer Corcoran's Secret, but hardly the most compelling or worthwhile expression of the band's considerable intelligence. Luckily, it would soon prove to be the only semi-weak track on the brilliant sophomore LP.
The main reason you might want to consider purchasing the thing if you see it cheap is one of the non-album B-sides -- "Tiara Fetish" -- which is as twisted, warped, upside-down, bent, noisy, distorted and completely WRONG as any song they would ever do (so off-the-wall, in fact, that they didn't even bother trying to put lyrics to it!). The third track, "The Chameleon," however, is a waste. Unlike the fine Creedence Clearwater Revival track "Chameleon," Polvo's ode to nature's most chameleonic creature is a slow, sloppy, drunken mess of a banjo-sounding slob's hangover song. Vocals there are, but who knows what they're saying? They're outside in the garage.
You can't find them? Check behind my license plate collection.
Still nothing? Have you looked in that box that says "Truck Bomb Materials" on it? They might be under the fertilizer.
Add your thoughts?
* Today's Active Lifestyles - Merge 1993. *
The coolest. The tempo-halting harmonic "gleeng
gloong!"s in "Thermal Treasure," the queasy axe meanderings of a solo Mr.
Ash in "My Kimono," the harmonic-laden rat-a-tat-a-tat chorus in "Sure Shot,"
the pick-tapping-string solos in "Stinger (Five Wigs)," the high-energy
guitar swoops and clachunkas in "Action Vs. Vibe" (action wins by a longshot),
the smash-em-up count-to-fives that close "Gemini Cusp" - crud, dude - these
fellows had their thinking caps on. To rock so handily, yet screw around with
the accepted usages of normal pop instruments and structure to such a degree: them
Polvos, they's some thinking fellers!
Sonic in their youth, too!
Polvo refuses to repeat itself, trying new styles and methods of play with each
release. This one's my favorite because I feel like they offer up a
number of brilliant ideas in these ten songs than they do on any of their other
records. Among the songs I haven't already mentioned, "Tilebreaker" is
straight-ahead indie rock like on the debut EP, "Time
Isn't On My Side" is a herky-jerky keyboard-driven toe-tapper, "Shiska" is
short and punky like Glenn Danzig before the accident, and "Lazy Comet" goes
from stupid kiddie singalong to unsteady
lightweight destructo-change-o in less time than it takes for me to turn the
volume up really really loud whenever that genius Sheryl Crow song "If It
Makes You Happy" comes on the air - aww now you're speaking my language in the
upstairs room. I love this album, this band, and
my girlfriend, and I suggest you do the same.
Except for my girlfriend.
Add your thoughts?
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (James Healy)
I totally agree with you when you say today's active lifestyles is
polvo's best album. i like your comment "a band so great, it's only
appropriate that nobody has ever heard of them" GREAT comment
- email@example.com (David Straub)
On a whim, I decided to get Today's Active Lifestyles for cheap through cdnow.
I don't know what to think! Prog-punk? This is weird stuff, man. It took me
a little while to develop a taste for Nomeansno, too, so I figure I'll get
into it. I do like "Thermal Treasure" and "Stinger (five wigs)" quite a bit,
and "My Kimono" is a really pretty little dejected instrumental that makes me
think of rainy autumn days (which isn't exactly what I want here on the cusp
of spring, but I'll allow it). A parallel I'm getting is with the "daffneys",
i.e. Eric's weirdness on Smash your Head and Bubble. The vocals are
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Bradley Cawn)
If consistency is the key in making a great rock album, TAL is the one
Polvo album that actually maintains it. I don't think their best songs
are on here, but it is their most cohesive album and one of the best
indie rock albums of the decade.
- email@example.com (Matt Hart)
Insanity. This album is hands down the most incredible piece of Polvo
ever. I wish Exploded drawing was just a double album of this style.
"Gemini cusp" makes me want to wet my pants and throw up!( in a good
way). Polvo is the kind of band that you either like or don't
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Todd and Kerry Wise)
Christ, what an album! The first Polvo release that I bought and became a
fan of. It's the kind of album that is interesting enough to make you want
to listen to it again and again. And when you do, you find something
different. Casey Kasem won't have to worry about fucking up the band's
pronunciation on "America's Top 40" though; this album requires a strange
degree of openess. In other words, if you bought the last Hootie and the
Blowfish album, you ain't gonna like this one. If your catalog contains
some Sonic Youth\Chapel Hill-area bands/Spacemen Three, jump in, the
water's fine. A tremendous effort and one that will be referred to again
- email@example.com (Phil)
I picked up TAL on a whim some 5 or 6 years ago at a record store. I
thought I vaguely
recognized their name from somewhere, possibly an old Touch & Go
catalog, and it was
cheap enough, so I bit. I probably missed some of the best parts of
this record the first
time through as I was preoccupied with staring at my turntable in
complete disbelief. I had
been playing guitar for a few years at that point, and had already been
introduced to Sonic
Youth's left-field approach to the instrument, but their sound always
did feel attainable,
even as far-out as is/was. Honest to God, I almost quit playing guitar
all together by the
time I got halfway through "My Kimono." "What the hell are they
*doing*?" or "Good Lord,
this guy's E string must be tuned down to A#!" passed through my mind
repeatedly. I'd have
to say this is the record that completely opened my eyes and ears up to
some of the more
discerning and delightfully challenging bands in the whole indie strata,
allowing me to discard
the scores of die-cut and utterly forgettable Sub Pop bands festering on
my stereo at that time.
It's great to see that this band is appreciated by thousands of other
people as well for whom
quality music is undoubtedly very important. For about a year after
buying TAL and all the
other Polvo I could get my grubby little hands on, I honestly thought I
was one of about six
people in the world who listened to--much less worshipped--this band.
When I got this (5 years after its release, and about 5 years after I bought
Pearl Jam's Vs., one of the worst pieces of butt i ever heard!) I realized
that not only was there much more to music than power chord riffing, there
was also a lot more than the sub-Pavement/Pixies stylings I'd gotten used to
hearing in the supposedly credible indie rock world. Which is not to say I
don't still enjoy some of the Archers of Loaf and Built to Spill records.
It's just that Polvo's sound stands out considerably....As far as the album
goes, instead of reiterating the cliched "Polvo manage to be technical while
retaining feeling", let's just say that Polvo are (or seem to be) extremely
adept at making entirely new and unheard of sounds come out of their
instruments. We don't have to cover up the fact that it is somewhat
technical and maybe a little prog-y. Call it "math rock" (???),
experimental, prog-punk, or even noise; Polvo rewrote the vocabulary of
music (my own cliche). And the fact that no one has yet learned to speak
that language proves how great they were.
Rating: 9 (my only gripe is, in my opinion, the far too understated vocals,
which would emerge triumphantly on Exploded Drawing)
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Russell De Sena)
The original cover had these tiger heads in the middle of all that
yellow. Art was cut out of some goofy religious pamphlet by a friend
and now bandmate of mine, the then Erectus Monotone guitarist Andy
Freeburn. I think someone got sued as the thing got
reished sans tigers. Why is there no E Mono site, best band on Merge
ever. Why is
their best stuff out of print? Guess they didn't shift as many units.
I'll let y'all know when I talk Andy and Kevin into getting that
compilation cd that they've talked about out. If you can find Erector
Set ep (actually on Rave) you're in for a treat.
if you haven't gone to the beach and dug the unholy power of
this art sometime in your life - you're missing something...it's never too
late. thanks polvo!
I was interested in your Polvo site. I bought Today's Active Lifestyles from
an independant record shop in Leicester (UK) when it first came out in 1993.
Their records were being played on Radio One at the time by John Peel, and
after i heard Gemini Cusp i knew i had to get it. I have the vinyl
version - yellow sleave with Lions and some strange pictures on the
back - it is one of my most treasure records.
Amazing album!!!! It's worthy of a 10, but i can't really say it's my favorite, cause I haven't heard their other albums. I'm suprised I haven't heard of these guys before I noticed them on your site, because I live in Chapel Hill...and this band is amazing, why doesn't more people talk about them??? hmm i dunno. great stuff. The whole album amazes me. Every song is a winner.
- email@example.com (Chris)
I've been trying for (years, actually) to find the real lyrics to "Time Isn't On My Side" so here I will give you what I think they are, you tell me:
Time Isn't On My Side (Guess)
Time isn't on my side
and you know dang well
and that's the only thing in this life that's truth
I can tell you what's wrong with this picture
taken from the angle where I sell myself but
waiting for the dusty shelf
to get knocked down
practicing my mind's inner plastic shell
and no ballroom time!
to celebrate an aspiration past its prime
stretching up and down we'll climb
someone broke the downward pline
Time isn't on my side
and you know dang well
and that's the only thing in this life that's true
and now give it a rest
nothing that I sing will I say it best
showing that you feel much less
it's the fortune of the timely rest
I know that last line isn't correct for shure.
Celebrate The New Dark Age EP - Merge 1994.
More genus! The two most outstanding tracks to be found here are "Fractured (Like
Chandeliers)," which gives us
one of the most twisted guitar lines ever written (and I mean twisted -
the whole darn riff is based on whammy bar jerkings!) and "Every Holy
presents a chord sequence that would be just plain dopey if not for the
fact that one of the guitarists refuses to follow the changes, rendering the
first half of each line completely out of key - in a good way! Elsewhere,
the band gives a go at a few "adult" moods, just to see if they can pull it
off. And it they do pull off! "Virtual Cold" is melancholy and sweet, "City
Spirit" is dominated by a warbly chorused bass line, "Tragic Carpet Ride" is
straight hard rock (and it kicks!), "Solitary Set" sounds like the beginning
of "Band On The Run" played over and over for three minutes, and "Old Lystra"
sounds like a band trying to sound like Polvo. You'd be doing yourself
a disservice if you didn't not unbuy this.
Add your thoughts?
- Reader Comments
I love this EP, of course it's not the greatest thing they ever did, but then
again I can't rate any polvo album as being the best....anyhoo i personally
become frightened when i see all these multitudes of bands coming out that
are doing the same thing as other bands, but polvo is one of the few bands
that i can honestly say is doing something "new" and continues to do
something new. i have tried comparing their sound to other bands but it's
impossible. it's also impossible to get people to like them, which is so hard
for me to understand because once you allow polvo to enter your being,
there's no getting it out. I remember buying cor-crane secret and HATING it,
kicking myself for it. but 2 days after i bought it i put it in and i
remember the song "can i ride" catching my attention........it was at this
magical moment when all the dissonance and chaos that is the foundation of
polvo's music sifted out, and what was left was the beautifulness and
innovativeness......i will admit that "can i ride" is an accessible song but
once i accepted it i began to listen to the others and everything fell into
place.....i urge everyone to do the same.....if you demand more from your
music than most bands offer than buy a polvo record today!
- Recidivst3@aol.com (Jeremy)
Polvo is in fact probably one of the best bands in existence today...it is
fully appropriate that no one has heard of them cause the masses like suck
ass pop songs that dont strain a single synapse in their brains.....sometimes
i think polvo is god....today's active lifestyles is incredible.....
holy shroud" on celebrate the new dark age is incredible..listen to those
lyrics...they're infuckingcredble...dripping with sarcasm (soaked)..i thought
pavement had wit...jeez....they're just plain awesome...no one else sounds
like em, (although now i know where archers of loaf got that jangly guitar
sound, another great band especially icky mettle, i don't get this new album
though.(airports) anyways..thats off the subject and ive used far too much
- firstname.lastname@example.org (speedo)
I think I might be the only Polvo fan in the universe who thinks that
Celebrate is their best release. "Fractured" in particular, is in my
opinion, one of the best guitar songs ever written, for its combo of
oddity, accessability, and emotionality (not to mention that although
sloppy at times, these guys know their instruments). Although Celeb
is not their most innovative album, it's their most emotionally biting
(see "Tragic CR", "Virtual Cold"). I'm not the greatest music critic,
but I realize when a CD has been the only one in my player for months.
- email@example.com (Russell De Sena)
Hey, this is practically my favorite too. It's quite tuneful, so all
the artsy kids must be scared of this as some "pop" move, and maybe it
is, and so what. I got the triple single and really like the confusing
packaging, you need an engineering degree to open it up and then put it
back together when you're done spinning it. Best time I saw 'em live
was at the Fallout Shelter at this time. Took place during an ice
storm, so maybe 15 people there. I've seen em be sloppy and not quite
tie it all together, but this night they hit all the right buttons.
Sorry if any of y'all missed em live, you should of been there. Heard
rumors of possible future sessions, by the way, but don't expect any
more live work.
Yeah, I'd have to say this is my personal favorite Polvo. It was the first one I heard out of all of them, and then I saw Polvo open up for Sonic Youth in New Orleans back in '95, and
they got the crowd going long before the Youth took the stage. Then I went home and listened to this record over and over later on, and it was incredible. Immediately hooked. The
most diverse sound out there, and the tempos-- whoa, silver! They take 'em away. The final show I saw them in Baton Rouge at The Bayou and they played Spanish Castle Magic.
Jesus. Then A Quick One While He's Away medley, and then slammed into their own material. It was a hell of a night, a hell of a definitive ride for this band. I sorely miss them.
- BConklin1@nc.rr.com (Brenda Love)
Ash Bowie's scream in the middle of "Fractured" is a classic moment in music history. That's the kind of scream you're dying to let out occasionally but are worried you might get committed if you do.
- Wes Paxton
Jesus Christ this is good. So why did it take me 664,000 listens for me to like it? "Fractured" is about the best song ever written even though the opening riff makes it sound like it's going to be another generic piece of indie rock bullshit... "Every Holy Shroud" rapes the fuck out of every sonic youth song i've ever heard too.
Hey Prindle, where's the Libraness review? I thought you were a big Polvo fan.
This Eclipse EP - Merge 1995.
About six months before this record came out, Polvo played a rare concert at the
Cats Cradle (they'd not played around town in quite some time), and all of my
friends and I agreed - it sucked ass. The new songs were simple hard
rock songs and the band had a cocky kickass rocker attitude the likes of
which we'd never associated with this previously shy lowkey combo. So we
said, "Skrew you, Pavlov!!! Giving up art to try to score a major label
deal!!!" Then six months later this EP came out and made us all feel
stupid. The day that this stop-and-start pothead music nabs a band
a DGC contract is the day I grow a mustache.
Just as defiantly anti-commercial
and pro-intelligent as before, these five songs offer up some classic guitar
interactivity in an indie rock context ("Bat Radar"), a little loping catchy
as hell singalong ("Bombs That Fall From Her Eyes"), an iota of that
weird melody deconstruction gig that made the debut LP such a freakish treat
to plow through ("Titan Up"), the slightest measurable knot of bass-drone
psychedelia ("Production Values"), and a whopping asspipeful of that off-kilter
songwriting style that makes the band so darned special ("Titletrack" and all previously listed
Boy oh boy, did I feel like a dick having said the things I'd said
after their disappointing concert of six months prior. But you have to understand - I was still a young
man, and it was a HUGE threat to think of a great young band compromising their
sound to make the dough. And that's seriously what it sounded like they
were trying to do - perhaps they were just being ironic, and I, in those
early pre-Morrisette years, just wasn't sufficiently sophisticated to catch
on to their biting ruse. Either way, I was
wrong and this EP is brilliant. A little mellower than usual, too, which was
an interesting and unexpected change. Too friggin' short, of course, but
the next record remedied that problem in a heart flutter.
Add your thoughts?
- Reader Comments
- Shiska5050@aol.com (Jessica)
I too saw Polvo around the time of This Eclipse (along with TFUL!) and I,
along with the people I was with, thought it was the worst show we had ever
seen. It was boring, and they played 3, maybe 4 songs stretched out into 10
minutes or so each. Only one song was totally decipherable. It was more like
a 40 minute medley waste of time than any Polvo show I would ever expect. But
they've totally redeemed themselves since then. Rock on.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Kevin C. Lambrix)
This Eclipse is not the best thing I ever heard, but it contains the
best and my favorite polvo song, "titletrack". It's brilliant, complex and
melodic. The last time I saw Ash he said it was his favorite he ever
This is the best album ever made. It is aesthetically brilliant and
perfectly poignant. It changed my life and if I ever meet a girl who feels
the same I will marry her
Exploded Drawing - Touch And Go 1996.
More welcoming and normal-sounding, thanks to their fullest
production yet, but still full of cool ideas and beautiful executions,
especially in the lovely "Fast Canoe," "In This Life," and "Taste Of Your
Mind." Some of it rocks like Nugent ("Bridesmaid Blues"), some lopes and
careens like a kangaroo with one busted leg ("Feather Of Forgiveness," "Crumbling
Down," "Snowstorm In Iowa"), and several pretty much just sound like Polvo,
which is nothing to toss a fuckin' shitter at. Not every single song is up to their usual standards (hence the 8), but the thing's so darned long, you hardly even notice the
few weak spots. And the ending? "When Will You Die For The Last Time In My
Dreams," aside from bearing one of the most bizarrely romantic/frightening
titles ever, can brag to its friends about its status as the longest
Polvo tune ever, ending with
about ten minutes of fuzzy chimey noise with a beat. It's cool!
Lots of classic noise, plus a few numbers that manage pure sonic beauty
without becoming hackneyed little wussy tunes.
Buy it and enjoy the length. The songs are a lot easier to follow than
before, but there's no idiot pop on here. Who knows if they're even capable
of idiot pop? I saw 'em totally screw up a cover of "Fly Like An Eagle" once,
and we all know how difficult that feat must have been.
Add your thoughts?
- Reader Comments
- JPekkarine@aol.com (Jonathan)
What you said!!!! Couldn't have said it better. You know about the Pumpkins
and all that shit. I myself was a HUGE pumpkins fan, (Gish Especially) but
recently they just don't do it. I 'm looking for more. And what I found was
Polvo. They make my ears hurt and I love it, and they also have written some
the most beautiful pieces of songs I have ever heard in my life. The chorus,
I guess you'd call it, in "crumbling down" is sooooo beautiful. What makes it
so, is that the song arrives there through heavy distorted wallowing guitars
then bursts into bliss. Um. I am a recent Polvo fan soes I don't know
nuthin bout em, sept for the few articles I have just read. This one was
very amusing and educational. I only own This Eclipse and
but if I know me, I will own more soon. I love bands like Polvo, they make
me wish I was a genius guitar guru (like Frank Zappa). Too bad, these types
of bands get hardly any recognition they deserve. Society just seems to
glorify the drab pop music that is uneventful and is deemed pleasing to the
ear and blah blah blha blah blah. Smashing Pumpkins and so on.
Unfortunately, Jawbox broke up, cause they were magnificent, and I thought
they were gonna take over the world. Maybe Shudder to Think can pick up the
slack. Maybe all the other Polvo type bands out there (not to say they sound
like polvo but just do stuff that's cool) could rise up together and take over
the world, and we would forever be submerged in chaotic sounds of
- email@example.com (Carson Hoovestol)
The first time I listened to Exploded Drawing was on an airplane and the
music matched the turbulence. I listened to the whole thing and
realized this was what rock music was all about. My first Polvo record
was Celebrate The New Dark Age. From there I got (in order) Exploded
Drawing, Cor-Crane Secret, Polvo, today's active
lifestyles, and This
Eclipse. I love Polvo and consider them the greatest band currently in
existence. None of my friends can stand them, but the more I listen to
Polvo, the less I can listen to anything else. I truly envy you for
seeing them 16 times. That must've been phenomenal, to put it lightly.
exploded drawing is digestable pure polvo, they have proved they are
perfect at times, and have filled the quota of pop songs, and
retained a sense of originality. it's not their best album though.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott Cornish)
the beatles had the white album. polvo has exploded drawing. i can not
find a better example of the magic that polvo can create. this is just
about the best cd i can ever remember hearing and i wouldnt trade it for
anything in the world. this record not only changed me, but it defined
who I am today. every song has a special place in my heart. "will you
die for the last time in my dreams?" is far more an epic than sonic
youth's "diamond sea" or "stairway to heaven" and leaves you with a
feeling of total and utter amazement. polvo is not my favorite band, but
this is my favorite record.
This is the one. There's more pop on here, but as Prindle explained, no
IDIOT pop and that's for daaamn sho'. "Fast Canoe", "Bridesmaid Blues",
"Feather of Forgiveness" are some of the most challenging "pop" tunes since
Surfer Rosa, and probably more so. And of course, the noises are still so
cool, with that first guitar line being my personal favorite album opener
ever. I can't really say enough about this one, and even though it may not
be AS innovative and challenging as Today's, Exploded Drawing gets my 10.
It was Polvo that first introduced me to the world of Mark Prindle. Finally, a dude that understood how fucking great this band was. Now I see that Mark
has gone and changed his original rating from a nine (deserved) to an eight (too low). What's next, nude posters of his wife?
Shapes - Touch And Go 1997.
I can only assume that somebody complained that "all
their records sound the same" or something, because this album features way
too many misguided attempts to alter the band's sound, with the result being
that Polvo now sounds a lot like all those other unnecessary and
lesser-talented indie rock bands that college kids like for some reason.
UPDATE: I had
actually left Chapel Hill for NYC in early '96 and thus didn't know of the drama surrounding this release. Apparently by the time they got around to recording it, Eddie had quit, Dave had moved to NY and Ash had moved to Boston. So there had likely been no practice, no rehearsals, no jam sessions, no nothin'. How groundbreaking was the album going to be? Now back to the UN-UPDATE.
major complaint here is that the band, in its determination to attack new and varied
forms of musical instrumentation (I could be wrong, but I think I hear sitars,
banjos, pianos, keyboards, and trumpets in there), have neglected to bother
writing any really great melodies. Just because you throw a simplistic sitar line
into a song doesn't make the song "interesting." In this case, it totally
drags Polvo away from their real strength - guitar interplay. Three songs -
"Twenty White Tents," stirring and somber "Enemy Insects," and lengthy,
drawn-out "El Rocio" - all sound like the Polvo we've grown to love. The rest of the record is an unsuccessful
experiment in genericism. Polvo don't ROCK (their guitar tones are far too
tinny to pull it off), and I personally wish they'd stop trying to do so. Now,
I realize that as a fan, I'm in no position to instruct the band on how best
to maximize their collective strengths - I mean, if a band wants to progress,
they should progress - I'm just putting forth a suggestion that they spend a
little more time on melody development the next time around. Most of these
songs sound like they were made up in ten minutes (and maybe they were?).
Polvo are far more talented and smart than this record shows them to be.
Having bitched enough, I want to conclude by making it clear that, regardless
of my earlier complaints, Shapes is
a good indie rock record. If you buy it, you'll probably like it. It's
only a letdown to me
because Polvo is one of the greatest bands in the world, and I
know that they're capable of so much more than this. "Rock Post Rock" has
some really great Zeppeliny guitar bits, though, and Stacy "Spott" Philpott's horn
solos in "Downtown Dedication" totally steal the show. Go, Stacy "Spott", go!
Add your thoughts?
- Reader Comments
- email@example.com (Carson Hoovestol)
At first, Shapes totally took me by surprise. But it grew on me. I've
come to enjoy "Enemy Insects", "Twenty White Tents", "Everything In
Flames", "Downtown Dedication", "El Rocio", and "lantern" dearly. Also,
if anyone didn't catch it, there's an intersting Hendrix nod- "d.d.s.r."
= " downtown dedication : slight return" if I may be so bold. Shapes
does at times sound like Polvo just screwing around trying to play other
"genres" of music, but overall it's an interesting album, and a worthy
piece of the Polvo library/puzzle.
I have seen a shitload of bands in my college days, and Polvo are one of the
weirdest, most perfect of the bunch. From 1992-1995 it was a head to head
battle between Polvo and Drive Like Jehu for the throne of noise-rock kings.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark White)
The melodies are there on Shapes; they're just harder to find. And
that's what makes it their best album yet. The band isn't experimenting for
the sake of experimentation here, they are bending and twisting the pop song
structure even further then on previous efforts. I love Exploded Drawing
and their earlier albums, but they didn't have the diversity and range of
Shapes. Therefore, to me at least, they are less interesting. I say
keep going with the sitar, trumpets, and whatever else they want to throw in
there. The songwriting is still as strong. If not stronger.
- email@example.com (Patricia Hart)
I really like Shapes, and not because it sounds like a typical indie
rock record, but because it is a nice change from exploded drawing. I
thought Exploded had some ultra boring moments that were only made
bearable by songs like "Fast Canoe" and "When Will You Die....". If the
songs on shapes replaced these boring moments, Exploded would be a
monster. Polvo has a great tendency to sound un-Polvo, like on Shapes,
but if you give it another chance, it is mildly reminiscent of This
Eclipse at times, which is great, but in a different way.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Bruce Dunsmuir)
I too like Polvo too much for my own good...Today's Active Lifestyles is
just barely my fave, for pretty much the same reason that it's yours (most
consistent amount of incredible messings-around with guitar sounds and
structures'n'timings)..."Title Track" is probably my favorite song of
theirs...Lots of parts on Shapes are still bugging me, though...if they
put those rock'n'roll solos, cheesy-ass grooves and whiny vox in there just
to bug their geeky fans, it sure worked on this one...oh well...there are
still parts to every song that no one else would think of adding to the
mix, and I like the way that they kept up with the tinny, almost
interludes that they first came up with on Exploded Drawing..."El Rocio"
is such a good song that it pretty much saves the whole album for me,
hey bluds, polvo is all over say yer prayers and count yer blessings.
it weren't a great last album but what and the hell would you do?
I think the majority of you have missed the point. "Shapes" is one of
the most innovative songs in this band's pop-tragedy sequence.
"Everything in Flames" ranks with the best of Polvo's alternatively
tuned anthems. When have you ever heard Polvo ask you to sing along --
"Everybody sing/everything in flames." I lament the band has to come to
any sort of conclusion, but hey we have the reunion tour to look forward
damn, polvo rocks!!!
- email@example.com (speedo)
I've got only negative things to say about Shapes, and I refuse to
sprinkle that negativity with any sort of statement like: "But it's
still a good album 'cause it's Polvo." I don't know if it's a joke or
not, but they seem to almost deliberately fall into the 2 ultimate
trappings of wanker-musicianship 1) Experimenting with annoying
instruments and 2) Paying tribute to classic rock. Ever notice
how the bridge of "Everything In Flames" sounds like "The Locomotion"?
Anyways, I lied. I will sprinkle and say that "Enemy Insects" is a
I bought a Polvo Cd and I really didn't like it that much but then I
listened to it again and it blew me away. Now I have all of them and I
think they all are great I try to share this band with everyone I know. I
saw them play there second to last show at the Cat's Cradle and it was the
best and most exciting thing that I have ever seen or done. I know where you
are comeing from when I read your page on them, they are truely the best
band in the world.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Todd and Kerry Wise)
I don't understand the "disappointment" people are expressing with
Shapes. It's the record everyone knew (or should have known) they were
going to make and I take serious issue with the comment that Polvo "can't
rock..their guitar sound is too tinny." Please! One listen to "Rock Post
Rock" dispells that notion; blatant Page riffs ripped directly from circa
'72 Zep. Trust me, it passes the "rock" quiz. And going back awhile, "My
Kimono" rocked as hard as Sab's "Embryo" from Masters Of Reality.
Polvo seemed from the beginning to be a band that spent an awful amount of
time fucking around in the basement with strange guitar tunings and a love
for toying with newly aquired instruments ("Now we just bought a sitar...so
be prepared"). Shapes is a wonderful and welcomed addition to the boy's
catalog and, unfortunately, sounds like the final chapter judging from the
amount of "stuff" they tried to cram into it. The disc is filled full of
minute long jams/experiments/showing off/etc. The mix is tight and glossy,
yet not in a bad Robert "Mutt" Lange way. By expanding his vision, Bob
Weston has proven with this production that he is the best working
independant producer out on the market today. He perfectly sidesteps the
sounds of his previous efforts unlike Albini who merely sticks with one
concept and milks the results over and over again (anyone outthere actually
admit to owning the last Bush release?). And Weston works with Polvo with
kid gloves: if they're uncertain about their voices, hell we'll just bury
it or add some campy late '60's effects to it. "Downtown Dedication
(Slight Return)" enters the repertoire as one of the "greatist hits" the
band has ever produced. The album itself is, unfortunately, a good way to
end the band. And in some ways it's a perfect vehicle for newcomers to get
a glimpse of what the band was all about. A highly recommended effort.
I'm Cyril from Paris, France.
I juste heard that Polvo has split up but I'm not surprised...
I saw one of their show in Montreal when Exploded Drawings just came
out. They played during 20 minutes, but Ash Bowie seemed very upset and
he left the stage throwing down his guitar.
Then, one year later, when they released the Shapes LP, I was very
disappointed : my favorite band had become some regular indie-rock band
playing tribute to the ugly 70's mainstream rock (come on, isn't it
Lenny Kravitz singing on the awful "Downtown dedication"?)
I wish they split up after Exploded, leaving behind them wonderful
the only band I can compare polvo with, is Trumans Water...
The only polvo record in the collection. Confusing when I first heard it-I
was like "what the hell is this crap?" But man -those songs sneak up on you!
Youll get up early just to put it on. "Enemy Insects" sounds like a bizarre
horror movie theme. The last song on there (i forget the name) has such a
cool ass ending-damn! three cheers for polvo. Cant wait to get more polvo.
- email@example.com (Todd Allred)
SHAPES is an underrated last (?) effort by the most interesting band
since CAN. "Lantern" "Downtown Dedication" and "Enemy Insects"
just totally kick all ass!!!!
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Fred Willard)
I love every aforementioned song on Shapes, but "El Rocio" (Spanish
for DEW) is the sh#t. It clocks over 12 minutes, but it plays like a
short story. And "Downtown Dedication - Slacker Revise" takes the
Oh, I can't wait for their new release. Polvo are a talented band
with a promising future.
i may be totally behind the times but i took a year off from listening
to music in early 98 and missed this album completely until 3/99. upon
first listen i was saddened and disappointed. it had all the earmarkings
of "last album" and "thrown together" and while i may snooze through
some of the tracks there are others that rule my world (and besides,
good snooze music is pretty impressive, too). you have all confirmed my
fears of a breakup. the king is dead. long live the king!
Ash Bowie basically canned Polvo because he’s
more enthused with banging Mary Timony, and
playing in her band Helium on a regular basis.
What a f--cking Homer!
Why don’t you just move to Hollywood already,
You boring sellout.
- email@example.com (Melissa C. Mills)
I've been listening to Polvo since the first album came out and I can
honestly say that I was trully disappointed about them breaking up and
even more disapointed about that being their last album. My new
favorite band to go see is now Man or Astroman? oh well....the world
isn't perfect but Coco sure can grow on you!
- firstname.lastname@example.org (eric Metronome)
i heard recently at CMJ in NYC that Polvo are currently working
on a new album. i guess they arent going to tour anymore, but
the word is that they have one more LP coming.
i wonder if anyone will still be interested after Shapes?
i guess i will. there is just no band like Polvo.
I was so glad to see a web site devoted to Polvo
and a reviewer who cuts through the ''indie credibility'' and ''influence''
of the band and gets to the point: Polvo sends shivers up and down your spine
as frequently as the notes bend.
Celebrate the New Dark Age is, to me, their masterpiece. ''I won't change my
- email@example.com (Russell De Sena)
If this record sounds different, I think maybe it's because half was
done without a drummer, and the other half with a new drummer, my pal
and Raleigh standby, notorious cartoonist and zine miester, etc., that's
right the one and only Brian Walsby. I must confess to this being one
of the few records from Polvo I've never heard. I'm sure it's fine,
given the awe inspiring presence of Walsby! He's played with: Scared
Straight, Wwax (with Mac you know who), Williard, Shiny Beast, Erectus
Monotone (live work only and briefly), the original Shames, and now with
the incredibly evil Daddy. O yeah, who could forget the mighty Bedside
Pig, and I can't believe I forgot the Patty Duke Syndrome, in which Ryan
Adams proved he had real talent before got that incredibly phony alt
country "band" together.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Ari Sass)
ash bowie of polvo and helium has a solo record coming out soon on our
label, Tiger Style, under the moniker "Libraness". The album is called
Yesterday...and Tomorrow's Shells and will be released on October
17th...if you like Polvo you'll love this!
- email@example.com (John Prete)
I became interested in Polvo after a few years of
exhaustively listening to gbv. The deeper I dug to get gbv music the more amazing
the songs were. Eventually the well went dry, and the lead singer took on
diahrea of the mouth. I needed a new band. Bouncing between modest mouse, built to
spill and polvo, finally Polvo won me over hands down with Shapes. I previously
owned 3 cds before buying shapes. Shapes proved to be a dynamic album, leaking
out both raw and clean sounds I had not yet heard from Polvo, these sounds
weren't just good they were mood changers. Polvo transforms their sounds and still ends
up with hard hitting music, something rare to hear. Polvo seems to hit so much
variety and emotion in Shapes its hard to say its not genius, its like they
collected all this musical stuff over the years and just let it explode into Shapes.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel Dunham)
Man what are you all dissing this album for? It's so weird,
it's weird for Polvo. Where else do you find transitions from quiet sitars to Led
Zeppelin? (Rock post rock) Where else do you find loud
electric guitar with the next chord being that of quiet piano? (Twenty White Tents) Where
else do you find the groove of Downtown dedication and
the Polvoesque instrumental bit on Enemy insects? The way these tracks enmesh is
crazed enough. Don't you like sitars every now and
then? Come on! It's Polvo! The only thing I can think of that this sounds remotely like (and I
really don't include Polvo) is Neutral Milk Hotel.
If you like this album, try out Neutral Milk Hotel.
- AMoroski@msn.com (Andrew Moroski)
After playing all the Polvo albums and wading through the supposed,
current "indie rock" scene, I wonder: Do any bands play noisy
guitars anymore? I hope so!
- email@example.com (Adam Burt)
I didn't know a thing about Polvo until right after
they had broken up (when I was still living in a small
town where practically NO ONE knows about
indie/underground bands), so I can't exactly relate to
the disappointment most fans claim to have felt when
this came out. I think this a really great record,
though. it has a very creepy/dark vibe throughout,
especially evident on "Enemy Insects," "El Rocio,"
"Lantern," and "Twenty White Tents," which is probably
my most favorite Polvo track, even though it's more of
an Ash Bowie solo track. the classic-rock-sounding
stuff definitely does seem a little weird for Polvo,
but they do it well and it doesn't get irritating.
good record, great band. wish I'd seen them.
you should know these guys are genui and they shouldn’t be questioned.
the record is prolific to say the least
I urge you to remember the line on celebrate the new dark age " we just bought a sitar so be prepared"
they wanted to use it before they broke up, and a few sitar notes in a song does make it cool if its polvo, man. what about the iron maiden influence? was it lost on you?
maybe they just ran out of ideas.
I've often thought this record was inspired/done under the influence of acid or mushrooms
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Brother Dave)
This one certainly caught me by surprise when I first heard it. Exploded Drawing was a bit of a let-down and so if you were hoping for "a return to form" then once the overly long Enemy Insects had completed you were probably sitting there stunned and wondering what the fuck was going on.
But a few listens later and this one really grew on me. Its trippier and more atmospheric than what they've done before and for some that mightn't be why you like Polvo. For me though its good. Indeed great! Not their best, but better than Exploded Drawing anyway.
Did I suggest I didn't like Enemy Insects?. Now when considered as part of this album it sets the mood .. and in some scattered way the whole thing comes together into a satisfying journey thru the world of Polvo. Its probably fair to say that the difficult circumstances the band were in did affect the way this album came about, some of it does sound thrown together, but serendipitously it works out. Sometimes the best journey crosses many paths.
- email@example.com (Vitorrio Brooks)
I thought your site was very nice. Polvo is also one of my favorite
bands and its nice to see a thorough site about their music. Your friend
needs to chill out though.. He seemed Angry about the way you wrote
your article.. Anyhow if you hear any new news about New Projects
coming from the disbanded members add that to your page. Im counting
on you for the heads up. Good job
For more Polvo-ish 'straight-ahead ass-kicking rock music', check out
recently formed band Black Taj. Well, what do you know! It has 2-3
ex-Polvo members (Ash Bowie on the mixer at some point). And they play
some sort of Southern Rock with Polvo fingerprints all over it. Call it
Oh, and it's THE most criminally ignored band of this decade, too...
In Prism - Merge 2009
YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD WITH BAYER!
But enough of my uproarious pain reliever gags. I'd better stop now before I 'Tylenol'! ('try them all')!
Hoppity hoppity hoppity! Happy Easter everyone! It's me -- the Easter Bunion, here with a basket full of colored bones from the base of the big toe. Hoppity ho
In Prism? More like In JISM, if you ask me!!!! (because it's so good you'll experience a crisis). Ten years after the disappointingly traditional Shapes, Polvo unexpectedly returns to life with a very strong collection of long, well-produced songs that combine their classic weird guitar tunings, odd chord structures and fascinating guitar interplay with a more mature (grown-up) feel and increased musicianship. Thank God it still sounds like Polvo -- particularly the structured songwriting approach of Exploded Drawing -- and is every bit as intelligent and unique as the output of their youth. A couple of songs have a bell too, so if you're a bell fan, be sure and check those out.
From the opening seconds of "Right The Relation," it's clear that Polvo is still Polvo. Listen to that second chord -- it's BENDY! Then wait until the verse comes around and presents yet another of Ash's patented 'why the hell did you write it like THAT!?' guitar riffs. The songs are a lot longer than they used to be -- averaging around six minutes each -- but Ash is still strangling a mixture of haunting mesmerism and ugly racket out of his guitar, and (as anybody who's heard Black Taj can attest) Dave is still writing laidback guitar grooves that combine classic rock riffing with droney Eastern modalism thingy.
I'll warn you this though: not that Polvo was ever an 'ass-kicking hardcore rock action band of kicking your ass,' but now that they're in their 40s, their music (like that of fellow guitar pickers Sonic Youth) is even less explosive than it used to be. As a fatigue-ridden 36-year-old, this mellow midtempo approach doesn't bother me in the least, but I wouldn't be surprised if young people with their "energy" and "whole lives ahead of them" are unable to connect with much besides the anxious, Minus The Bear-esque "Beggars Bowl." Having said that, even I question the decision to make the songs quite so lengthy, particularly the 8-minutes-plus "Lucia" and "A Link In The Chain." As these are among the moodiest and most evocative songs in the band's catalog (especially the gorgeous latter tune), it's unfortunate that by the end of each, you'll probably be daydreaming about gazing at your watch.
One final comment: with the grotesque sick-harmony twiddle-iddle verse of "The Pedlar," Ash Bowie has finally come up with a riff that sickens even me!
Okay, a better final comment: it always seemed unfortunate that Polvo ended their brief career with such a slapdash-sounding and (by their standards) weak record as Shapes. In Prism is a cohesive, mature and musically rich work that definitively lays to rest any notions that their initial breakup was necessary because 'they'd run out of ideas.' Here's hoping that the reunited Jesus Lizard will follow suit and wash the (relative) stink of Blue out of our ears and memories!
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- Reader Comments
I first heard this band about a month ago, after reading about them on this site, and i really like all their old stuff, especially cor-crane secret. This new one is a lot more classic rock influenced than i expected, but its a cool album, solid from start to finish. A Link in the Chain being my favourite song here.
To change the subject completely, looking at your 'henry the dog wearing an article of clothing photo', i felt like my heart was getting ripped out. My dog died two days ago and i used to take silly pictures like that of her. Don't take him for granted.
- Adrian Denning
it's brilliant - pure, exciting, excellent, stunning.
i'm SO PLEASED they are back.
this is their best since, oooh, 1994?
in prism is probably the most conventional, normal-sounding rock
record that polvo have done so far. but only in comparison with
their own work. it's still plenty dissonant, complicated and strange
by mainstream standards. my favorite polvo records will probably
always be the ones released from 1993-1995 (today's active
lifestyles, new dark age, this eclipse) because they show polvo at
their most experimental & challenging. but i still like nearly every
record they ever released. except shapes, naturally. even when
polvo attempted to compromise or reconcile their experimental urges
with a more conventional rock style, they still usually produced some
pretty imaginative & engaging music that could put most other bands
to shame. in prism easily qualifies as a successful return to form
(as if shapes never happened) and it's at least as good as exploded
drawing if not a little better on account of being shorter, more
focused, less meandering and just plain more consistently well
written & well played. in prism contains one song in particular
("lucia") which i think resembles the kind of brilliance that their
1993-1995 records were all soaked with, and the rest of the songs
don't seem to fall very far short of it.
Nothing pleases me more than knowing Polvo is viable band once again, and I am certainly pleased by "In Prism". I think the comparison to Exploded Drawing is apt and while I appreciated Shapes as what was then the last album of the greatest experimental rock band since Sonic Youth, it was a very strange bookend. I blame Mary Timony *ahem*. I'm glad In Prism has reset their own bar, but I am, like you alluded to, disappointed that the high-speed, quasi-melodic Polvo from "Cor-Crane Secret" to "This Eclipse" is probably gone forever. I guess that's ok, because I can play "In Prism" around anybody and they will at least tolerate it--if not be intrigued--whereas "Fractured Like Chandeliers" was the beginning and end of many my friends' and family's introduction to Polvo. It's funny to watch them on YouTube these days playing the old standards--they remove most of the alternate tunings and even the tempo changes--ach! Compare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6rvq0YRmpM&fmt=18 with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-piuLK6rwo&fmt=18 , the contrast is amazing. I say get Steve Albini out of producing retirement, get him in the studio with Polvo for the next album and revisit the style and verve of "Today's Active Lifestyles" (minus DGC's meddling of course)!
- Brad J
Honestly, I'm not particularly familiar with Polvo. Sure, I have
copies of Today's Active Lifestyles and Exploded Drawing, but don't
let that fool you: I've struggled half-assedly through the former one
or two times (I'm such a wuss), and only listened to the first four
songs off the latter once. So until I properly listen to more of their
albums, I can't make any bold statements about In Prism being "their
best album!" or see how it fits in their discography.
But taken by itself, I immensely enjoy In Prism. There's lots for me
to like: it's big, epic, incredibly pretty and dreamy, and it sounds
amazing, too. Maybe I'm just imagining things because of the title,
but it seems like a very colourful album: there's all of these
different, shimmering guitar tones throughout. Plus, unlike Today's
Active Lifestyles (which hasn't "clicked" for me yet... but I expect
it will), I was sucked into this album straight away: the first time I
heard the phenomenal Beggar's Bowl, I was blown away. The song kicks
ass and is exceedingly well written, with some very cool parts (like
that weird whammy bar fiddling before the verses), and I love how the
guitar solo just soars out of the noise.
Almost all the other songs are great, too. For the most part, they're
all very well written and have lotsa interesting little parts and
sounds. My one gripe though, is with D.C. Trails, which isn't overly
exciting to begin with. However, it does become interesting as it
progresses and changes, and the distorted guitars and huge guitar solo
(which is pretty awesome) at the end are both unexpected surprises.
It's also the only song, on album full of long songs, that I think is
overlong. Sure, Lucia and A Link in the Chain may both be longer, but
I totally adore them.
In my opinion, the two aforementioned epics are album highlights. I
love how Lucia starts off as a very quiet, very sparse ballad, but
after a blast of distorted chords, suddenly speeds up and turns into a
melodic as all get out, almost power-pop song (but is still something
of a ballad too). The percussion heavy breakdown is neat, and it's a
nice touch that at the song's conclusion, it turns back into the
original ballad and they drag out the ending for extra effect. On the
other hand, A Link in the Chain is extremely pretty and a fitting
album closer. The dramatic mid section where it builds from a whisper
to roar is excellent, and I really like how it eventually resolves
back into the chiming verse guitar line, and the little guitar solo
that follows it. Really, they're both fantastic songs.
Anyway, enough rambling and describing songs. Since I can't pin-point
the album's best song, I'll just call it a three way tie between
Beggar's Bowl, Lucia and A Link in the Chain. (But gee... the rockin'
Right the Relation and "see-sawing" City Birds are both excellent as
well!). On the "Prindle-Meter", this album would probably rate about
an 8. A particularly high 8, that could get quite easily bumped up to
a 9. It's a great record, and I'm certainly glad I tracked down a
Heavy Detour 7" - Merge 2011
I dislike the song "Heavy Detour" for the same reason that I try not to run around cow pastures with a boner: because I hate fuckin' bullshit. I don't know what the normally ingenious David Brylawski was thinking when he penned this corny '80s-synth-riddled song of seXXX and souLLL -- was he trying to sound like Prince? Or one of those soulful Urge Overkill songs? Or third-rate Afterburner-era ZZ Top? God knows. I mean, sure, I could ASK HIM. But what would that prove? He'd just beat the shit out of me like he did all the other musical critics (Rob Sheffield? TO A PULP. David Fricke? DEAD. Robert Christgau? NEVER HEARD OF HIM.). Yes, they don't call David Brylawski "Polvo's Axl Rose" for nothing! In fact, they don't call him that at all. I'm stalling, in hopes he'll forget that I just called his new song a vomitous piece of garbage and perhaps the least appealing track ever recorded by the band. Save this seXXXy linGGGerie-wearing seduXXXion music for Minus The Bear, thanks! (And then tell them to stop playing it too)
Thankfully, Ashington Bowie gives us what we crave and need with side two's "Anchoress," an emotional and gripping selection of memorable, desperate chord changes played in that inimitable slidey-finger diddle-diddle manner we grew up with in our childhoods. Thanketh be to you, Asheville "David" Bowie, NC!
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