The candidates are:
1) Ryan Adams
2) Robert Pollard
3) Bill Mallonee
4) Bruce Springsteen (kidding; but less so the last time out)
And the winner/loser is ... Robert Pollard.
I have varying degrees of respect for all the candidates, and downright love and affection for the last three. Still, the former Guided By Voices frontman is the easy winner here, primarily because his three going concerns (Boston Spaceships, Circus Devils, and solo Bob) churn out new albums on the order of one per month, and because every one of them has a couple inspired moments surrounded by utterly mind-numbing, pointless lyrical and musical swill. Pollard's latest solo effort The Crawling Distance is typical. It's his umpteenth record of the past year (honestly, I've lost count). It's got the usual jangly guitar riffage inspired by the British Invasion. It's got songs with inscrutable titles ("The Butler Stands For All Of Us," "By Silence Be Destroyed"), and lyrics that split the difference between non-sequiturs and vagueness. It's got great hooks that meander off into plodding noodling. It's got occasional memorable lines that never hang together long enough to suggest a broader meaning and context. It's a mess.
I miss the guy who used to only put out two puzzling, infuriatingly inconsistent, and frequently great lo-fi albums per year.