Todd Tobias

Medicine Show

by Matthew Fiander

25 July 2012

cover art

Todd Tobias

Medicine Show

(Hidden Shoal)
US: 24 May 2012
UK: 5 Jun 2012

Todd Tobias has long been associated with Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard. Whether he is producing GBV records, playing all the instruments on Pollard’s solo work, or creating oddball pop with Pollard in their band Circus Devils, it’s hard to separate the two. So it’s a bold move to see Tobias finally strike out on his own with Medicine Show, his instrumental debut album. The sounds on the album create a kind of musical topography. It’s got peaks and valleys, rugged textures suppled by skronky guitars and strange synths. From the percussive clatter of “Half Animal” to the moody rumble of “Flesh Interval” to the manic sludge-rock of “Manatoc Enters the City/The Long Fall”, the album has a trajectory, a clear and controlled movement through dense fog and clear night air. As it trudges along, though, it does start to feel a little too mechanical, a little too industrial and groaning for its own good, and at some point you start to wonder what the story is behind all this sound. Medicine Show is solid, but ends up being just a bit too dark for its own good, and a bit too murky in its intentions. It’s got some strong moments, but as a whole it plays like a soundtrack without a story.

Medicine Show



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.


//Mixed media

Call for Essays on Topics in Culture; Present, Past and the Speculative Future

// Announcements

"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…

READ the article