January 25, 2005
Pop/Rock, Lo-Fi, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Indie Rock

Album Review

Tobin Sprout has never been as versatile or dynamic a songwriter as his former Guided by Voices bandmate Robert Pollard (the two probably connected at the hip for posterity), but he has probably been the more consistent one, avoiding most of the pitfalls, potholes, cul-de-sacs, and half-baked experiments, even if he has never quite scaled the same creative peaks or achieved the often spectacular melodic highs. That consistency has resulted in a catalog of songs remarkable for its sturdy, workmanlike, even-keeled craft, and much of the best of it is present on Live at the Horseshoe Tavern, recorded at the cozy club of the title located in Toronto. In fact, the recording might be thought of as that time-honored, classic rock extravagance -- a Best of (Live) album. Sprout Comes Alive! Unlike some of the double-length behemoths of the '70s, though, Sprout's consummate skill as a writer very nearly sustains Live for its entire two-CD playing time. The selection re-airs most of the artist's finest work and is split roughly evenly between solo material and the stellar contributions he made to GBV, with a few songs from his Eyesinweasel combo and, for good measure, a tune from his one-off collaboration with Pollard, Airport 5. The set ends by introducing demos of three new songs. It's all good stuff, of course, and while none of the readings of past highlights here are revelatory, the band is in fine form throughout, and it's nice to hear these songs gathered together in the same place for the first time. It'll do the trick until a proper compilation of the best of the singer/songwriter's studio recordings finally hits the market, as it should.
Stanton Swihart, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Indian Ink
  2. Get Out of My Throat
  3. Gleemer
  4. Pure Flesh
  5. The Crawling Backward Man
  6. Dodging Invisible Rays
  7. Beast of Souls
  8. Ester's Day
  9. The Last Man Well Known to Kingpin
  10. War and Wedding
  11. To My Beloved Martha
  12. To Remake the Young Flyer
  13. Awful Bliss
  14. All Used Up
  15. Inside the Blockhouse
  16. Sadder Than You
  17. Gas Daddy Gas
  18. Hit Junkie Dives
  19. Scissors
  20. A Good Flying Bird
  21. Atom Eyes
  22. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront
  23. Exit Planes
  24. Water on the Boaters Back
  25. It's Like Soul Man
  26. Seed
  27. Martin's Mounted Head
  28. Marriage Incorporated
  29. Little Whirl
  30. Over Then, And Back Again [Demo Version]
  31. Inside Your Serious [Demo Version]
  32. And I Wonder [Demo Version]
purchase full album