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12" EP Collection

(Third Uncle; US: 7 Apr 2009)

Justin Vollmar is, in essence, Phil Elverum. Not only are both artists self-produced and largely acoustic-based, but both have high-pitched nasal voices, sing about oblique topics and primarily sell their recordings through their own websites. However, there’s also a key difference between Vollmar and Elverum. One seems to think that the lo-fi atmosphere is all he needs to succeed and sound “cool” and “indie”, and the other pours over each and every sound in his recordings (the quality is evident even in the less-successful tracks).

Vollmar’s 12” EP Compilation is about as half-assed as indie rock gets, as some genuinely interesting tunes inevitably get lost in a collection of clichéd, boring and flat-out painful tracks. “Sounds & Reverb Cord Noises with High Feedback” is a seven-minute drone piece wherein the title is taken rather literally. “Avery, Tell Them About It” plays like a bad cover of a good June Panic song, and the Casiotone for the Painfully Alone knockoff “When Love Love Love Love” is about as tedious as a keyboard-laced indie rock number as you can imagine. Yet the worst part about Vollmar’s EP compilation is that there are some genuinely good songs here (the lyrically stunning “Sampsons”, the quietly beautiful “Wedding Instrumental 2”), rough gems showing genuine talent hidden among some of the most overindulgent dreck you’ll hear in all of 2009. There’s an artist worth salvaging here; you just have to wade through a lot of forgettable tunes in order to get to him.


Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album, and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.

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