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Isolation Drills

76 customer reviews

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Isolation Drills
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Audio CD, April 3, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Indie rockers loved for their lo-fi sound always risk losing fans when they shine their new releases with big-band polish. Luckily for Guided by Voices zealots, their prolific king, Robert Pollard, can't seem to steer his band any direction but up. On Isolation Drills, GBV builds on the full sound of Do the Collapse, enlisting Robert Scnapf (Foo Fighters, Elliott Smith, Beck) to help with production. The result is a two-tiered record that sparkles with the fullness of fuzzy guitars, pounding drums, and the backing textures of organ, piano, and strings, while cracking the code of Pollard's more fragile psyche.

The band's gritty sound has swelled into a grand sonic landscape, but a closer look shows a pockmarked world existing between the lyrical lines. Pollard's whimsical songwriting takes a turn for the serious on a number of Isolation songs. On "The Brides Have Hit Glass," he laments, "It won't last/ To be on top of your own world/ With no guard rails to cling onto/ You fall so very fast." On "How's My Drinking?" he almost slurs the words about ceasing to care for sobriety as he sings, "I won't change," and coos with the rest of the melody. Isolation is a brilliant mix of uptempo Pollard anthems ("Glad Girls") teetering on the edge of a fractured looking glass. --Jennifer Maerz

1. Fair Touching
2. Skills Like This
3. Chasing Heather Crazy
4. Frostman
5. Twilight Campfighter
6. Sister I Need Wine
7. Want One?
8. The Enemy
9. Unspirited
10. Glad Girls
11. Run Wild
12. Pivotal Film
13. How's My Drinking?
14. The Brides Have Hit Glass
15. Fine To See You
16. Privately

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 3, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 2001
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Tvt
  • ASIN: B00005ABFM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,008 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Ramirez on May 27, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Imagine that the best rock songwriter in the world came up to you and said, "Hey, I got together with my friends and recorded demos of some new tunes in my living room. Want the tape?" What would you say? "Wow! I can't wait to hear what the best rock songwriter in the world has been up to," or perhaps, "No, thanks -- I won't waste time on hissy, distorted recordings, no matter how good the material may be."
Unfortunately for Guided By Voices, too many rock fans in the '90s gave the second reply, leaving such lo-fi masterpieces as *Bee Thousand* and *Alien Lanes* largely unheard, except by critics, indie zealots, and Ohio cultists. The average record buyer just couldn't imagine that a track with an unpromising title like "Tractor Rape Chain," sloppily recorded in someone's basement, could be the equal of such guitar pop jewels as the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" or an R.E.M. gem from the early '80s. But it is.
The marvelous *Isolation Drills* is the culmination of GBV's five-year plan to boost the recording quality and accessibility of its music while preserving its intelligence and amazing melodic richness. *Under the Bushes Under the Stars* was the first halting step out of the basement, mixing more competently captured home-brewed tunes with some clean studio tracks. (That album's halfway position between sloppy and slick GBV, and its astonishing set of great songs, make it the perfect introduction to the group.) *Mag Earwhig!* was a full-fledged studio production, and *Do the Collapse* added a fancy producer (Ric Ocasek). *Isolation Drills* perfects the studio formula while improving on the somewhat hit-or-miss song quality of the last two albums.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By . on April 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Isolation Drills is another great album by GBV. Obviously alot of people are snivelling about the fact that GBV have left their 4-track lo-fi days behind. But as Robert Pollard has said, the whole reason that GBV has existed from the beginning is to make big rock records like this; they just didn't have the money or technology when they made those earlier records. The way I see it, good songs are good songs, whether they're recorded on a Sony boombox or a 64-track digital soundboard. Tracks like "The Brides have Hit Glass", "Twilight Campfighter", "Skills Like This", and especially "Unspirited" are as good as anything GBV has ever done. Anyone who dismisses this album as an over-produced sellout is obviously completely missing the point. True GBV know that Isolation Drills is top-knotch.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Taz on May 15, 2005
Format: Audio CD
If you are anything like me: A dude with nothing better to do then read amazon reviews and even take advice from some of them (I get a kick out of the lists too) I'm sure you have read ad nauseam that this album and everyone after UTBUTS is an example of GBV's evil produced sound and should therefore be burned at the stake or meet a similar fate befitting the pure evil inherent in them. Well, I say it's time we give these people the state of Oregon and let them develop their own commune where they can ban motorized vehicles and any music not produced on a four track or worse. (They will come begging to us when they forget to produce toilet paper and other neccesities)...

I'm here to tell the people firmly rooted in reality that this is GBV's best album and, considering it came after the very great DO THE COLLAPSE (Ocasek can still bite me though), it's a shining example of Robert Pollard's peak song writing period. High praise indeed, considering the high quality of all GBV material, but I'm sticking to it.

Every song on here is at least very good and most are freakin great! From song 1-16 this is an incredibly strong album and show cases the many faces of Pollard. You want rockers? How bout "Pivotal Film", "Want One?", "Run Wild" or "Skills Like This" (a personal fav.) You want the 70's prog rock god? There's "The Enemy" or "Privately". Affecting quietier moments? Try "Sister I Need Wine", "Fine to See You" or the very personal "Hows My Drinking". Sugar coated pop-rock classics? Hit "Fair Touching", "Chasing Heather Crazy" and of course "Glad Girls". There is even "Frostman" for the BEE THOUSAND freaks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By George a Pletz on April 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
One of the great things about a group like GBV is with a catalogue as massive as theirs, there is never a drought between albums. Between the eclectic one-offs, the eps and revisiting past albums, you can always find a corner of their universe that feels good. So right now I am listening to drills again. This album is fantastic! More focused than Do The Collapse, the album represents all that makes the band great writ widescreen. This album showed two things. First, Gillard is a guitar god! He ably fuses all the influences of the group into a sound that is flexible, powerful and absolutely now. When I heard the solo in "The Enemy" the first time I knew. While I have nothing but love for all those who held the position before, Gillard is the perfect foil for Bob. Secondly, GBV's songs ably stand up to the larger sound. "Unspirited" and "Privately" could have shined along side such brilliant sketches like Dusted but the addition of strings is a serious advancement of the GBV sound. Such latter day (uh..current actually) classics such as Pretty Bombs (UTAC)or Dig Through My Window (Prince Whippet) would not have been possible. Sure there are songs like "How's My Drinking?" and "Fine To see You" which briefly sandbag the propulsion of the album but they fall much later in the record. 2 out of 16 is not a bad ratio! With two excellent blocks of songcraft at opposite sides of the album (the trifectas of "Fair Touching-Skills Like This- Chasing Heather Crazy" and "Glad Girls-Run Wild- Pivotal Film" repsectively), you can easily program them out. This is a album with legs! Simply an incredible album. I think age has been very kind to this album. A pivotal album when looking towards where the band is now!
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