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Lifeguards find two notable figures from the Midwest indie rock community joining forces to create tuneful but powerful rock & roll, though it's not the first context in which Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard have worked together. Pollard, from Dayton, OH, had been the leader, principle songwriter, and lead vocalist with Guided by Voices since the group's formation in 1985. Meanwhile, Gillard was a guitarist and songwriter with the Cleveland-based art punk band Death of Samantha from 1984 to the band's breakup in 1990, and later formed the bluesier Cobra Verde with DoS singer and guitarist John Petkovic in 1992. In 1996, Pollard had a falling out with the other members of Guided by Voices, which led to him firing his bandmates and hiring Cobra Verde to serve as his backing band for the recording of the 1997 album Mag Earwhig! and a subsequent tour. (The album included a new recording of the song "I Am a Tree," which Gillard wrote and recorded with his short-lived group Gem.) While eventually most of the members of Cobra Verde drifted away from the Guided by Voices lineup, Gillard stayed with GbV until Pollard opted to retire the band at the end of 2004. In 1999, Gillard collaborated with Pollard to make the duo album Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department, and in 2003 Pollard and Gillard formed Lifeguards as a side project, recording the album Mist King Urth, which was released through Pollard's Fading Captain label. In 2010, Gillard contributed to Our Cubehouse Still Rocks, the fourth album from Pollard's project Boston Spaceships, and later the same year they revived the Lifeguards moniker for another collaborative album, Waving at the Astronauts, which was released in February 2011. ~ Mark Deming