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Jack Sells The Cow

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Robert Pollard

Jack Sells The Cow

12" LP

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Quick Overview

Even for a guy whose famously abundant output makes a joke of the word prolific, this has been a spectacularly productive year for Robert Pollard. Jack Sells the Cow is his second solo album in a year that has already seen the release of two records by the reunited Guided By Voices and will see yet a third before it s done, along with a fair amount of touring. So what makes this a Robert Pollard record as opposed to a Guided By Voices record? The best answer is that it s just a matter of nomenclature, but the absence of contributions from other members of the reunited GBV is probably the easiest way to put Jack in its box, if putting things into boxes is your thing. The superabundance of melody and densely packed stylistic swerves and flourishes on Jack rival anything Pollard s recorded recently, and while five albums in a year might strike some as overkill, you have to imagine his relentless output is a less-than-calculated move a smarter businessman would hold back product so as to build demand, but Robert Pollard has never been a businessman. He s an artist, full stop, at a time when it seems that every artist / musician is expected to have an MBA. He s scrapped enough proposed albums to fill many another group s entire discography; he puts out records because he likes the records. And he hopes you ll like them too. Jack Sells the Cow sails over the moon of your heart in a snappy 32-plus minutes and, despite the lyrics sometimes heavy subject matter, comes off as perhaps the sprightliest, most light-footed music Pollard has recorded this year. Of the quincunx of Bob-related releases this year, we d suggest you put this one in the center, and hold tight. These suckers move.


While Jack Sells the Cow is the second solo album of 2012 for Guided by Voices main man Robert Pollard, it's set apart from its predecessor, Mouseman Cloud, by its lack of collaboration with any of his GbV bandmates. Initially, Pollard going it alone sounds more or less the same as not. The songs are a little more prog-leaning and a little less pop, more akin to the bloodshot psychedelia of side project Boston Spaceships than the melody-centric fare of the reunited Guided by Voices. Outside of that, most everything else seems in line with the formula of Pollard's 2010s solo albums: relatively brief songs, bizarre and sometimes random lyrics, a healthy dose of classic rock influence in the form of straightforward rhythms and huge guitars. On closer inspection, though, the album begins to take on a strange life of its own. While staggering prolificness and albums stuffed with short songs have long been calling cards, Jack Sells the Cow cuts off at a surprisingly standard 12 songs, clocking in at just over half an hour. There's usually a ratio of a few big-hearted pop standouts to mostly weird freak rock numbers, with a smattering of bizarre experiments thrown in for good measure, but here the songs all become some strange combination of the three. Only the lively "Pontius Pilate Heart" pops with the upbeat catchiness that trademarks the best of Pollard's work. The rest of the album feels somehow darker, even in its moments of melodic soaring, as on "Big Groceries." "The March of Merrillville" has a hint of the spoken/snarled-sung delivery of Craig Finn's story-songs with the Hold Steady, suggesting maybe Bob has been taking notes on the progress of some of his peers. The album rocks out more than usual, too, forgoing the collaged feel and entirely acoustic passages of many of his albums.

Additional Information

Artist Robert Pollard
Track Listing 1 Heaven Is a Gated Community - 3:29 2 Take In - 2:14 3 Who's Running My Ranch? - 3:29 4 Up for All That - 2:39 5 Pontius Pilate Heart - 3:29 6 Big Groceries - 2:04 7 Fighting the Smoke - 2:25 8 The Rank of a Nurse - 2:41 9 Tight But Normal Squeeze - 2:39 10 Red Rubber Army - 2:05 11 The March of Merrillville - 2:15 12 Winter Comes to Those Who Pray - 2:40

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