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Now You Know

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Album Review

Singer/guitarist Doug Martsch of Built to Spill is a major guitar wanker. He also has an attractive whine of a voice and he has on occasion written some excellent tunes throughout his career. On his first solo record, he plays some fine slide guitar, especially on "Window," where he slithers around on the instrument like he was born in Mississippi rather than Idaho, and also "Gone," which has a lovely chorus and is probably one of the finest songs he's penned. When he sticks with the slide guitar, Martsch's combination of down-home blues and meandering indie rock is a winning one. But several tunes don't hit the high emotional points that he's attempting to reach and the rock parts don't always click, occasionally coming off as half-baked noodling. His cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Jesus" is no doubt supposed to sound haunting à la Nirvana's cover of Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?," but it's neither as good a song nor a particularly moving version. He's reached beyond his means on this cover. However, Martsch has impressively nailed down the blues guitar sound, which adds exponentially to his general downbeat groove.

Customer Reviews

For Fans of BtS or Folk Rock

Martsch puts his stamp on the folk rock of his first (and only, to date) solo album. It's unlikely fans of Built to Spill will be disappointed, especially by the minor blues of "Woke Up This Morning with My Mind on Jesus" or slide guitar of "Instrumental". For the folk side, Martsch accompanies his trembling vocals with an equally wavering dobro slide on album opener "Offer", then offers up something more tender on "Dream". A perennial favorite in my collection.

Is your heart to large for your sleeve?

Sleeve=Great song. Frequent listen. This was an obvious solo withdrawl that has serious religious overtones. Seems like Doug was searching. In the meantime we get to enjoy. Somebody who has immense talent and wordsmithing vs. something like the rapid fall of Sunny Day. This is so worth a listen as a full piece of work.


Simply Amazing


Born: Boise, ID

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Built to Spill's Doug Martsch finally made room for a solo career in early 2002. This singer/songwriter was an underground, cult hero among the indie crowd, but allowed his eclectic side to come alive in the release of Now You Know that fall. Signed to Warner Bros., Martsch recorded Now You Know in his hometown of Boise at his own Manhouse Studios over the course of 1999 and 2000. His classic assemblage of folk, blues, and classic rock impressed...
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Now You Know, Doug Martsch
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Customer Ratings