Tuesday, November 27, 2018

THE CLUB IS OPEN... An Introduction

WELCOME to An Earful 'O Wax, the Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard; Song Documentation Database. Here, I attempt to provide a write-up accompanied by a numerical review (for what it's worth) of every song written, performed, or related to one of rock's most prolific songwriters; Robert Pollard.

If you have found yourself on this site, you probably know a bit of the story and history of the Dayton, OH band. If not, welcome! May this be your newest haven for a crash-course in the subject, and hopefully this can aid in your quest for the perfect mix tape.

This idea to delve into this project came to be in early 2012 while talking with a friend about the intricacies of the myriad of Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard LPs, EPs, side-projects, box-sets, 7'' singles, official bootlegs, and compilation tracks. I know as a true GBV fanatic, this conversation happens often. So I decided it was time to make my madness somewhat concrete!

The original sole purpose came about when I decided to try to log a rating to some of the more obscure Pollard related songs in my library for my own reference. How could I forget how good "I Am Decided" was off the top of my head? How was it that the closer, "Blue Shadow," off Pollard's side-project Keene Brothers' LP escaped my memory when thinking about the breadth of the catalog? Official documentation began to accumulate over a few months, and only grew from there. Once the wheels started turning, I found it increasingly difficult to operate the brakes. The determination to review every Robert Pollard related song was in full swing, scribbled in notebooks and sporadically typed out.

What presents itself on this site is just that; my quest to track down, consume (multiple times), and review (if only briefly), every song that came out of Dayton, OH's pop-psych mastermind, Robert Pollard. It's been a rough and bumpy road over many beers, research, and late night phone calls to friends on the matter.

SO, how do you read this and what is it? 
First off, every Robert Pollard related band/solo outing/side-project is divided into headers at the top of the page for quick reference.

The set-up of the free blogger.com space does not provide for ample scroll-down-and-enjoy reading. I encourage all to click on the links above to track down each LP, EP, 7", and compilation to find said song, or to simply browse the nature of each beast.

Also, each LP is accompanied by a brief to somewhat-extended introduction into the release, garnished with facts and opinions. Treat them  as a short review. Treat them as garbage. Do as you will.

What is included?
Any and all Robert Pollard related material is included for mention and review on this site. That is, every Guided by Voices, Pollard solo outing, Pollard solo collaborations, or side-project. Several side-project bands are listed above in the same tab due to restrictions here, not importance, or lack thereof.

There are still plenty of off-shoots of the Pollard/GBV family tree; Tobin Sprout solo material, Doug Gillard solo LPs, Death of Samantha, Cobra Verde, fig. 4, Terrifying Experience, etc. While many of those releases are definitely worth tracking down, (especially Tobin Sprout's frequent and brilliant outings) I have not obtained all at this time.

Also, not EVERY single record is listed on this site. Some singles and box sets simply contained songs that had previously been released. I included each record, in which each song made its earliest appearance. If you'd like a complete discography of everything GBV related, check HERE.

In addition, there are a plethora of bootleg releases with alternate titles to track that were eventually released on the Suitcase box-sets. Also, there are seemingly endless unreleased instrumental outtakes, alternate bootleg takes, internet released demos, and unreleased live cover songs that have not been included. In time, they might see the light of day. Such is the case with Pollard's TWO "comedy" LPs of spoken word, Relaxation of the Asshole and Meet the King: Asshole 2. I've got 'em, just don't know where they fit in this puzzle, but maybe one day.

Additionally, as long as I breathe and maintain functional hearing, new releases will continue to be updated in the future. Please check back.

The ratings assigned numerically differs, in context, for each band.

It should go without saying, but a Guided by Voices perfect song rating does not always reflect the same as, say, a great Circus Devils song, decent Acid Ranch, etc. Two different recipes, two different results.

Also, it's a 1 to 5 system. Don't have a stroke that something didn't get 10.

And finally, LET IT BE KNOWN!:
It should go without saying that I am a fan. Not to dive too deep into the sappy end of the pool, Robert Pollard has been an even more enormous influence on me than I can really every say. Who else would do such an arguably stupid thing if not a fan? Nevertheless, what lies ahead may offend, enlighten, educate and shock some as I have given reviews to songs that some hold deep in the ribcage; wedding songs, the break-up tune, the perfect song for a funeral, your favorite drinking singalong melody, etc. So please know that every bad review still comes from a place that still gives even the slightest wink of admiration, and I mean no offense to the fellow listener in the following reviews of everything, and encourage an open discussion about said topics. Such is the way of the world, and shouldn't need mentioning. But it bares repeating when dealing with something as sacred to so many.

May Pollard continue to write, record, release. The army of the shambolic have spoken and, sorry mainstream press, he does NOT need an editor. What we want is what we get, and so forth.  And for the casual, or beginner, may this be both a guide and valuable lesson.  As Pollard has said, he relies on his Four "P's"; pop, punk, psych, and prog (which will be referenced throughout the site), in his song writing. May the best of those styles continue to rain down, for better or worse. One man's "Gold Star For Robot Boy" is another man's "I Can't Freeze Anymore" and vice versa. But hopefully you get the picture.  Read on, enjoy, and detest if you must. But remember, "Life is short, GBV is long."*

Additional thanks to the project goes to the following:  Jeff at Guided by Voices Database (www.gbvdb.com), for his his helpful correspondence and for his stellar website of meticulous fanboy info. Kevin Oliver, for guiding me through a cerebral discussion of Suitcase 2 and its inconsistencies back in the day. Fid, for his enthusiasm, tri-state brotherly support, and providing me with a couple of hard-to-find GBV releases on loan while I was dead broke. Christopher Thomas Brown for talking GBV with me at length and for kind of kick starting this whole idea. And to K. Gogan, my best friend for encouraging me to finish and for helping edit a portion of this mess.

*- gbv

**all photos taken from the fabulous world of google search. If you have a problem with a photo being up here, say the word and I'll take it down. I honestly don't know how to credit you!

***background collage by Robert Pollard, entitled "Brought To You by Real Nice Scientist" 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Do Not Try To Adjust Your Set I Am The Horizontal And The Vertical (2018)

Do Not Try To Adjust Your Set I Am The Horizontal And The Vertical
(2018, Imaginary Man Records)

What in the world am I doing here, holding this double gatefold record on my lap? How in God's name could Robert Pollard let this happen? In a world where fans clamor for a Boston Spaceships reunion, a Mars Classroom LP repressing, and would welcome more than just ONE GBV LP in 2018, comes the double LP no one asked for.

Yes, a true Pollard fan who has hung by his every hook and note released to the public may still be shaking their heads in disbelief. If you still haven't gotten over the sound of your wallet screaming at you as you ordered the SECOND full length LP from Cash Rivers and the Sinners, don't worry... you're not the only one.

What started as a bad, yet mildly amusing joke, has gotten WAY out of hand. The 17 song 7'' debut from Pollard (under the guise of foulmouthed, Cash Rivers), provided some laughs in the grooves of said novelty record. However, things got dire in early 2018 with the 23 song, 22 minute full-length, Blue Balls Lincoln. The chuckles to be had throughout the country meets locker-room-fart-jokes record was few and far between. It felt like a slog! The fact that only 500 were pressed, and now stands as one of the most expensive pieces of out-of-print Pollard wax to date, only makes it more painful.

But fans fear not! For Cash Rivers and the Sinners are back to help you get your yucks on! At 69 songs (hehe) spread over 2 LPs, the sheer magnitude of the whole affair feels as disgusting as that spaghetti massacre of a record cover. BUT… lo and behold… against all odds, this somehow shines as a fascinating, trippy novelty record of unrivaled ambition! Is this to say Do Not Try To Adjust Your Set… is new classic in the Pollard cannon? Far from it in the traditional sense. However, this tome of ideas runs the gamut from blue humor to exceptional bizarre. It’s so disgustingly rich with throwaway ideas, it has the power to make one sick with glee.

 Much like, say Alien Lanes, the whole piece should be heard in one sitting. When viewed on a track by track basis, as this review site does, it might feel a little painful. Still, Pollard and friends have created one weird, drunken, often funny canvas to be studied (possibly with earplugs and a Hazmat suit). Also, the record sounds unnervingly good!

This is what happens when a joke goes too far. Are we better for it? The jury is still out on this.

Just prior to release of Do Not Try to Adjust... Pollard has said this is the end of Cash Rivers. With news like that one can give thanks, and perhaps shed a sad tear simultaneously.

IntroWelp! Here we go. Maybe not as riveting as Pollard singing the "ABC's" to open up She Laughed I Left. Simply 8 seconds of Pollard getting his Dayton drawl on while introducing the record. Can I even rate this? Sure, I just did. A fucking 2. 

Children Of The PopcornPiano driven minute long rock track while Pollard sings in a helium wheeze. Oh crap, this is catchy, and hot damn this sounds pretty great. The kids chanting at the end seals the deal. 

Cheap TruckA real country rocker that builds slow. Pollard (I mean, Cash), does some spoken word type, creep-o stuff over it before belting it out toward the end. Sure, why not. 

My JagwireThe first of several surf, rockabilly styled songs on the record. Is this good? I don't know anything anymore. Only 66 tracks left to go. This review will be my War and Peace by the time it’s over. 

We Gotta GoSo pretty, and simplistic, it could've been a GBV song if Pollard put some real lyrics over it (rather than singing about grabbing a pizza). In fact, GBV DID play this song at their shows in the fall of 2018. Well done!  

Bug Race1 haha, what? 

Object In MotionThe first of several songs in which ol' Cash sings some of Sir Isaac Newton’s scientific Laws of Motion. See kids, you didn't realize you were also learning while listening! 

I Wouldn'tA toe-tapping, piano backed track. This is pure quality! Must be nice to produce this type of listenable 5-star horseshit so effortlessly. The horseshit is 5 stars, not quite the song. Almost… Also, kudos to engineer Travis Harrison for signing up for this project, and making something so tossed off sound like a radio hit of yesteryear. 

Slide On Sloopy- 1 A cell-phone type recording looped over a Casio keyboard type backing track. One of the stupidest things of all-time. Alrighty. 

Take Her Home, Tuck Her In And Go Back OutTrue country joy beaming from this one. Stomp your shit-kickers on the boards and sing the seemingly never-ending choruses. Wonderful harmonies. Killer banjo solo in the middle to boot! 

Bubble Country TV SpotSpoken word nonsense about Pop-Rocks type candy. I do not know why I am laughing, but I am.  

Soda PopBouncy, simplistic tune with a psych guitar solo over garage stomp about soda pop being worse for one than beer! Hey, "it kills you faster than beer." The "it does!" at the end is worth a laugh.

She's Too Big To Be My BabyA country fried shuffle played with conviction and some nice fiddle and piano ticklin'.  

She Discoed Out The DoorOh you bet if this has"disco" in the title, you're gonna get a Disco backbeat from crotchety ol’ Cash. Disco meets country, only the way Cash Rivers could provide. Also, brings to mind some late ‘70s Sparks. 

 Go Get 'Em DavidCloyingly catchy. Literally the title repeated over an industrious sounding chug and guitar lead. Oh brother. 

Barber Shop Quintet Champions Of MinneapolisSpoken word gag interlude. 12 seconds. 

Rock And Roll Keeps You AliveCan I type nothing here. Damn, already typed. 

My Heart's Still Beating4 Angelo Badalamenti Twin Peaks feel to this one. So cold, oddly enjoyable. 

He Lives UpstairsWeepy, rainy day country slog. Would've fit nicely on the debut Cash Rivers 7''. No harm, no fouls on this track.

Orchestrated Horseshit Radio SpotBizarro radio bumper parody. Over before it starts.

Bobby BareJazzy little guitar number dedicated to Nashville musical legend Bobby Bare, father of current GBV guitarist Bobby Bare Jr. In typical bullshit Cash Rivers fashion, the entire set of lyrics can be found in the title. Bobby Bare pops in to say hello mid song, making this, most likely, the trashiest thing such Nashville royalty has ever appeared on!

Future Of RockPsyched out, cut and paste hard rock crumminess.

Crispy Old Crackhead5 Busted a gut over this one. Maybe you'll hate it? Which should just be the review for the entire record.

Robot ArmsIf you like grunting, musical fart noises, and bullshit programmed loops, get in on "Robot Arms"  If not, it's over before it starts.

Cats CrevensTed Nugent type rock as Pollard slurs and laughs the words right outta his phlegmy throat. The mid song "musical laughing" segment is incredible.

Buffalo Eleanor2 Ridiculous. Acoustic plucking Pollard tries to rhyme off the cuff.

There's No Such Thing As Global WarmingPsych acid bliss as Pollard reaches in deep and pulls this out of his ass, sounding like a snippet of a Beatles outtake.

Lyin' M F1 Ok, this is ridiculous... and pointless. Just got dumber for listening to this.

It's Only Rock And RollOk, now me dumber den ever. Cash Rivers "covers" The Rolling Stones only the way Cash Rivers can... poorly.

MB On GNRPollard gives a weird, old drunk man spoken word performance about how Guns N Roses look filthy.

O Brother You're Out There3 Perfect little country nugget, but average at best.

Orchestrated Horseshit Radio Spot 21 7 second parody radio spot. Got it.

Honky Tonk Bebop LoverPiano bopping with Pollard scats some nonsense. The song ends with Pollard saying "Whatever. Fuck it." Perhaps the credo of the entire DOUBLE LP!!!

T V's Got A Lot Of Things On His Mind-Finally, super fan and GBV brethren Trader Vic gets a song dedicated to him in the cannon. Pollard sings in his weasely voice. 100% irritating, and funny as hell.

Don't Mock A Chihuahua5 HAHAHAHAHA!  Fantastic. Great call and response track featuring exceptional children gang vocals. The lyrics; second to none!

Blinding A LeprechaunIt's like they always say; Sometimes you're mocking a Chihuahua, sometimes you're blinding a leprechaun... WHAT!? Where am I?... not even half way done with this record, that’s where! Pollard does some low-rent LCD Soundsystem stuff. Actually sounds a bit like mid-90s The Fall in spots. Have I used the word "ridiculous" in this review yet? Perhaps, not enough!

Bobby Bare Promo- No ProbLimoBobby Bare returns for his own "radio spot." I want this to be funny, but it's just not.

Corn Country- At 2:49, this is practically a fucking EPIC. Fortunately, it's almost a real song, nearly catchy, but falls short. It's so unfunny, so UNserious in its approach, and SO utterly ridiculous I find myself wearing a shit-eatin' grin throughout at this pile of corn.

What Goes Up- The second installment in Pollard's "Newton's Laws" songs. Almost a GBV jangle approach taken during this ridiculously stupid song. Somehow, this is catchy.

Warning- 1 Spoken word track warning men with lesser than exceptional endowment to turn away as Pollard spills into...

Tiny Cocka- 3 "TINY TINY COCKA!"  The goddamn dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life. The trumpet at the end really makes it, though! It's the little things, y'know.

Marathon Penis Go- Yes, there is finally a song in the universe with this title, and yet another song about male genatalia. Finally. Hope it was worth the wait. Well, I busted a gut listening to this one. Now THIS is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That banter at the end though... HAHA!

Cellphone Baby- 4 Stiff upper lip, ZZ Top rock saved from the gutter rock accompanied by brilliant sound clips. The unexpected ringtone outro nearly knocked me outta my chair.

9 Kids By 8 Different Women- 2 A pretty little ditty reminiscent of the original 7". Over before ya know it.

Voodoo Lady- No, sorry. This isn't a Ween cover. Speaking of Ween, any of these titles on this record could be a Ween song. In fact, this isn't that far off from a Ween song... Zero thought, mildly infectious.

Taco Tuesday Plug- Spoken word track, radio promo spoof. Ehh..

Honolulu Titties- 1 Brainless surf track... for full lyrics, read the title (just like many of these songs!)

Crazy Evil Dancer- 1 Throw away track, even for Cash Rivers!!! Some mindless rock stomp.

Winona On The Rider- 2 A piss poor pun sung over gloomy country noodling.

Tiny Cocka 1- Ahh, the RETURN of Tiny Cocka. Thank Goodness. Doesn't deliver the same way the original "Tiny Cocka" did. More of "Tiny Cocka" by way of Magnetic Fields. Beautiful, in a way.

The Hair- 3 Real moronic school boy stuff here that made me chuckle.

Ready For A Sitdown- 3 A toe tapping, impressive guitar shuffle. :28 seconds of bliss.

She Thinks I'm Sexist- 4 Now THIS really sounds like a Ween song, complete with voice modulation, lyrical content, and cheap programming. Nearly amazing.

Sex Change Operation- 2 Cheapo electronic programming over dumb lyrical idea... unsettlingly catchy.

Did You Hear Me Have To Say I Love You To A Man?- 3 Nice, sterile country twang to this one! Some real honey in Pollard's voice on this one!

You Know You Said Woah- 1 Worthless, except for those avant sax rips. Far too long for anyones good.

Fifth Village Man- 1 Insanely forgettable. One of the most blatant throwaways on the record.

We Party Hard- 2 Pollard sings like he's helping a buddy move into a second floor apartment while under a nagging hernia. "We party hard, and then we get soft!" The new rock motto.

Delicious Brown Acid/Country Essence- A split track between a killer Monkees-esque chant and a perfume commercial! Fan-fucking-tastic.

For Every Action- 2 Forgettable, mildly hooky. Yes, another one of Newton's Laws for you scholars in the making.

Party Pooper- 2 Could've been something off one of the Suitcase collections, which is a sad indictment on some of them Suitcase box sets!

The Backwash- 4 Hilariously stupid. Simple and effective.

Eddie Spaghetti- Kept waiting for this one to get clever... It doesn't. Still, I find myself laughing.

Shit All Over The Place- 4 Finally, a song for the feces fans out there! The most metal song of the collection!!! Rock lives!... complete with wet fart noises. Thank you, Robert Pollard.

John Shut Up- 2 Mindless doo-wop on a budget tune.

Bubble Country 2- 1 Spoken word nonsense. I'm laughing, and I don't know why? I've lost my mind, and things will never be the same.

2 O'Clock In The Morning And I'm Still Rockin'- 2 At 2 minutes, we've got ourselves a real song here! Unfortunately, this Billy-Ray-Cyrus-fallen-on-hard-times song is 2 minutes long. Ran out of ideas during the first 10 seconds. However, that stadium chant at the end is PRICELESS.

Newton's Laws- Finally, collected on one 44 second track, we get a compilation of all the Cash Rivers "Newton's Laws" tracks from the record. Also features some hall-of-fame noise in the mx, such as farts, mooing cows, and the opening towel dispenser noise from Space Gun.

You Know We Get Happy When The Sun Goes Down- Oh DAMNNN! Didn't know this thing contained Sandinista outtakes! 3 minutes of pure dub, filtered through the demented hangover world of Cash Rivers and the Sinners. Perfect closer!

Excuse me while I go soak my brain in some Epsom salt.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Space Gun (2018)

Space Gun
(2018, Guided by Voices Inc.)

The third studio offering from the new and improved, fully fleshed powerhouse line-up that is the re-reunited Guided by Voices!  Space Gun is further studio progression in the new life that pulsates through the ultimate band, keeping it in motion; behold the mighty Guided by Voices. Back from their possibly best sounding studio LP, How Do You Spell Heaven, the newest LP is another exercise in high kicks, and top notch production courtesy of recording engineer Travis Harrison. Harrison was also at the helm for the sonic bombast of ESP Ohio's Starting Point... along with much of August By Cake

Originally rumored to be a double LP back in its mixing stages,  Space Gun finally arrived as a compact, more cohesive 15 track record in late March 2018. Said to be the only studio LP of 2018, the ever prolific GBV seemed to be putting their money where their mouths are, doubling down on this one and done affair for 2018. And boy do they deliver! 

Also, this LP features perhaps the most un-Pollard titles ever collected on one record. I mean, check some of these titles out... "That's Good," "Blink Blank," "I Love Kangaroos"??? What a bunch of throwaway titles, but damn... such is not the case behind the meat of these songs. Backed again by Doug Gillard, Bobby Bare Jr., Mark Shue, and Kevin March, the band's sounding younger, full of purpose, ready to go toe to toe with any naysayers or ship-jumpers.  Pollard, like the last couple records, soars in the vocal department, layering on harmonies, and high wire acts from start to finish.

A lot of blind praise often goes into the Pollard cannon, longtime fans and newcomers rightfully blown away by the  magnitude of material released by the man at the helm. With Space Gun all praise is deserved. I recall reading a review of a fan who had an early copy, stating "Every song could be a single!" In my naivety, I thought, "here we go again. Really, not one dud?" However, such a brash statement about Space Gun is not wrong. If this truly stands as the only GBV record of 2018, what a statement it is. One of the all-time great GBV recordings, and a sign that Pollard's well is not only far from dry, but perhaps flooding as we speak.

Ladies and Gentlemen, YOU ARE THE SPACE GUN!

Space GunI've said it on numerous LP reviews over this site, but DAMN does Pollard know how to open a record! In fact, out of the 26 GBV LPs (yes, Tonics and Twisted Chasers counts), the opening track holds an average rating of 4.3 Hmmm, how about that useless information? This opener is no exception. Perhaps the only album in history to open with the sounds of an automatic bathroom towel dispenser, the titular track swells with hypnotic guitar stabs before catapulting the listener into the stratosphere. Huge production, gigantic airy hooks. Anthemic to no end! At over 4 minutes, the song feels repeatable and effortless. It's all so familiar, but wholly triumphant and fresh! A grand statement. 

Colonel PaperWhile the opener was a breezier epic affair, track 2 is a taught stomp rocker that nearly falls into pastiche territory. What almost teeters into the cock-rock zone thankfully doesn't. Tightly wound verses blow up into fist pounding choruses worthy of a raised beer glass. Lyrics, somewhat questionable, but from Gillard's leads to the bass plodding to Pollard's vocals, it's perfect. 

King FluteA proggier, airier feel. Sounds like it could've fit prominently on How Do You Spell Heaven. Kevin March shows off his drum fills throughout this mystic tale of a tune. Unlike some of these "deserves repeated listen" mystic Pollard tracks, this is straight and to the point, full of plenty "holy shit" vocal moments that only grow more infectious over time. To the point too!

Ark TechnicianGoddamn, this is downright gorgeous.  Takes us back to late '90s/early '00s GBV. A simple tune brought to life by the jangly guitar interplay. Wonderfully placed bridge that both offsets the song, takes a turn for the melancholy, and ends on a joyous note. A subtly beautiful tune that only gets better with ever spin. 

See My Field5 Perhaps the best production on any GBV song ever? Not overproduced, but the second single released off Space Gun is grandiose, overblown, and irresistible. Stadium ready, appropriate for a raised fist and belted singalong or two. The off-kilter stereo guitar leads are the center-piece of this driving, mini-epic. Again, the lyrics are a drag, but Pollard delivers with such conviction that who gives a damn. This song could be about Kangaroos for all I care. Oh wait, that's later. 

Liars' BoxHolding things back for a minute... Take a breath. They can't all be epics or Space Gun might kill us all. But, do not be fooled! This is one that creeps up on you. The first part of this song is a post-punk, moody plodder that could've passed as a more "GBV-like" Circus Devils' song. The hard-rock middle is average, but welcomed. The ending of "summon of a glass to a sad sad heaven," as Gillard fires off those leads... well now.  I've died and gone to heaven (how do you spell that). 

Blink Blank Post-punk as all hell. Another industrial tinged piece that could've found its way onto a late-period GBV record of the early aughts. In other hands, this may not have come to such successful fruition, but Travis Harrison's production brings this to life. Pollard's backing melody, the ice-cold rhythmic strings... far from the main-stream hit of the record but well worth the time. Forget the incredibly stupid title, "I lost an umbrella looking for you in a shit storm," is Pulitzer-worthy. 

Daily Get UpsIt's said that The Strokes once threw their tape up on stage at a GBV show many moons ago. Pollard liked it and eventually The Strokes and GBV played some shows and shot a Family Feud style video together. Well, I'll be, if this isn't the Strokes' leads that got away.... Albert Hammond Jr. must be having his own stroke of excitement. But HOLY SHIT, is this where it's at. You know you've won when the well-placed-hand-claps get you smiling. Short and sweet. Poignant and full of life. 

Hudson RakeA stop-starter with late-night drinking/late-night show ballad vocals from Pollard. This feels like the curtains are about the be drawn on another day/show and out comes "Hudson Rake." The song builds into the oddly cryptic "there was a terrible accident last night. Am I Am I dead?"  Whoa! It works so wonderfully in the context it lifts this almost mundane song into near greatness. 

Sport Component NationalGuided by Voices just can't resist some sawed-in-half magician song on their record full of comprising fidelities and bit pieces. The song is mainly carried by the Monkees-esque "Getting Ready Getting Ready To RUN," vocal piece. A mid-fi Pollard moment pops in, along with a building short snippet all leading to the guitar stabbing that takes us out into one of the most grand moments in the discography. Raise the flag. Raise the glass. GBV! 

I Love KangaroosA song so fay and fragile in its pop simplicity, it's almost nauseating.  In its approach it's almost easy to miss what a great tune this is. Reminiscent of some of the Tobias produced mid-00's solo records, but with actual arresting hooks. The lyrics are so dumb, it's okay if you take a black sharpie through your lyrics sheet. But, wow!, damn if this "wimpy" prominently acoustic, child-like singalong about kangaroos doesn't get me every time. 

Grey Spat MattersThis short tune almost sneaks right the hell up on you. Clanging from guitar to drums, it's a one dimensional piece with some dry Pollard vocal delivery. Regardless, it's the perfect simplistic combination. A true example of Pollard/band/production all coming together to make a simple demo pop. And Pop is as pop does. 

That's GoodPollard's written some heart-breakers and nostalgic ballads over the years. This is one of the best. For everyone who took a steamy dump on "Hold on Hope," this could've been what he was trying to reach, and nearly did with that song. But putting comparisons on the back burner, this is an incredibly slow building tune for the times you need to play the memories back in slow motion. Need a moment for your nostalgia of nearly any moment ever lived? Check in with "That's Good." 

Flight AdvantageA straight forward tune at best. The one sour spot on the record. It's not particularly bad. It's just not particularly memorable. On top of that, Pollard adopts a vocal styling that sounds like he's on the verge of blowing chunks throughout. Were the vocals recorded while walking on a balance beam? 

Evolution CircusOne slow burner of a closer. After an immediate punch of an LPs worth of songs, "Evolution Circus" requires a bit of work. You can almost see the smoke machine going off. Kevin March brings the tom rolls as the band builds... eventually it's all bogs down into below mid-tempo plod and gray-sky-jangle before finishing up with the leg-kick worthy "get on get on get up" ending. The truest track of worthy-of-repeated listenings on the LP, and a fantastically understated close to a monumental record in the cannon. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

That's Good 7'' (2018)

That's Good 7''
(2018, Guided by Voices Inc.)

The third, and final, single released prior to the Space Gun LP early in 2018. Limited to 500 copies worldwide, the single sold out in just a couple hours from the Rockathon website, making it an instant artifact. Backed with 2 exclusive B-sides from people not named Pollard, the 7''s is packed. Released on "beer" yellow vinyl. Happy hunting.

That's Good-  Same song that appears on the Space Gun LP. Check the review there!

Red Nose Speedway- Steadfast Doug Gillard tune starts propulsive and grows from there. Steady guitar grind makes this almost hypnotic as the drum machine provides an unbreakable skeleton. Insanely simple, insanely hooky. Great guitar drop-ins from Gillard throughout. Wrought with ambient electronics during the eerie post-punk drop out. Classic Gillard track worth tracking down! 

The Dead To Mees- Second guitar slinger, Bobby Bare Jr. get his turn in the ring. At just over a minute, this acoustic mid-tempo tune upwardly trudges along. Bobby Bare's classic shredded vocals warble through. Both managing to be uplifting and haunting. Over before it starts, ending on empowering "ooohsss and ahhhhsss." Turn the needle back and rejoice. 

See My Field 7" (2018)

See My Field 7''
(2018, Guided by Voices Inc)

The second of 3 singles released from GBV's LP Space Gun. Limited to 500 copies worldwide, the record was posted on Rockathon Records and sold out its pre-order run in a matter of hours. The B-side features 2 exclusive tracks from GBV band members not named Pollard. The record was pressed on clear green vinyl! 

See My Field-  Same track that appears on the Space Gun LP. Check the review over there! 

Disconnected Eyes- Bassist Mark Shue gets the first showing here on Side B. A western style drum stomp holds this one together, rolling along with souring melodies from Shue. Incredibly grand as the song builds, soaring in the choruses! A potent melodic statement of near symphonic proportions.

Leave Tomorrow- The last time we heard drummer Kevin March's contributions in the songwriting field for GBV, he was practically stealing the show with his two tracks off August By Cake. Here, March continues to make his case that he may be sitting on the best GBV-side project LP never released. A bit of a mid-west, Mould feel to this mid-tempo pop gem. Acoustically reinforced, the electric leads are prickly and syrupy. One of the best 80s college rock songs you never heard before.

Space Gun 7'' (2017)

Space Gun 7"
(2017, Guided by Voices Inc.)

The first unveiling of GBV's 2018 Space Gun came not the scene wit the single of same name. Released in December 2017, and limited to 500 copies, the 7'' sold out in mere hours from the Rockathon Records webstore. The A-sides contains the lead single, while side-B features an exclusive track. One of several 7'' singles from Space Gun, this one comes on beer yellow wax.

Space Gun- Same track that appears on Space Gun. Review coming soon. 

Kingdom of the Cars- 3 A rare gem here... Bob Pollard penned, but Doug Gillard perfomed and recorded B-side exclusive! Clunky lone guitar hold this one together through post-punk drum banging before the song evens out into a breezier, full on chorus of sorts. An awkward, oddly constructed song that lacks a great hook. However, the left-of-center composition is of great note here, and rewards those repeated revisits. 

Blue Balls Lincoln (2018)

Blue Balls Lincoln
(2018, YukYuk Motherfucker/Jellyfish Records)

Just when you thought it was safe to let your daughters out of the house, here comes another Cash Rivers’ release! This time, forget about it being a solo act, because the whole shebang is credit to Cash River and the Sinners. That's right! Ol' Cash got himself a nasty hangover and a full fledged band! Backed by the likes of Harry Covair and Dukey Rodgers, this a record no true country fan is soon to forget!

In actuality, as you may have guessed from being on this goddamn site in the first place, Robert Pollard is at his old funny self again. One of the unlikeliest of side project in his cannon to reappear, like The Cubs winning the World Series, it has happened. Unlike the 17 song 7'' debut, this full length is a fully realized country twang record with help from GBV bandmates Doug Gillard, Bobby Bare Jr with guest spots from such famous musicians as drum machine!

While the absurdity, spontaneity, and sheer audacious nature of the first 7'' made it pure novelty gold in the most absurd sense, this feels like the slogged down 23 minute follow-up no one was clambering for. While She Laughed I Left, had numerous twists and comedic turns (from vocally delivery, to title choices), Blue Balls Lincoln feels forced. The vocals, and "lyrics," feel as if they were recorded in similar fashion; back stage, drinking, trying to make the gang laugh. Hell, these might be from the same "sessions" using that term incredibly loosely. However, She Laughed I Left may have used the wealth of quality material if that was the case. Again, "quality".... is used... loosely.

The whole thing is in good fun, vocals recorded to cell phone and music added after the fact.  Released as a Rockathon Records website exclusive, this stack of blue wax sold out in a single day. Worth tracking down? For fans and completists only.

Bloody Mustard- An honest to God real country tune here! Wow, that banjo playing... That squealing fiddle. Sounds like some babbling in the background. Then the song cuts out, and Pollard sneers "Blllooodddy Mustard." Yup, that sums it up. At one minute long, this is almost a downright epic on this LP!

70 Year Old Lady- More of the straight-to-cellphone feel from the 7'' is present on this. It sounds like Pollard recorded this backstage and then Gillard added guitar post drunken backstage romp. Either way, bland, and low on the chuckle scale. 

Bobby Bare, Jr.- An ode to songwriter, and GBV guitarist, Bobby Bare Jr. Son of famed country musician, Bobby Bare. This song is equally ridiculous yet played pretty straightforward; A redneck hook sung so infectiously it may cause an ear infection.

Blue Balls Lincoln- The title track.... short, sweet, mindless. Meeh... 

Candy Cigarettes and Kiddy Cocktails- 3 Another blink and you'll miss it track. Maybe the funniest one of the set thus far, but a stretch. 

Circle Yes or No- More weepy day country balladry... Snooze. 

Come On Baby Grace- 1 Pollard covers himself here, rehashing the fan favorite Boston Spaceships track. But who cares? 

Crooked Balls- Finally, a little life to this one. Bring a smile to this curmudgeon's face, here. Zero on the clever scale, but gets points for spot on delivery. 

Didn't Daddy Give Ya- Probably the best "song" on the record... practically catchy, even from the vocally delivery. The new square dance classic? 

Excuse Me Baby- Pointless... Wake me up when "Gas Station Hero" starts. 

Gas Station Hero- Oh okay, that was quick. I'm up. Pollard repeats the title a couple times, drunkenly bass scats, but nothing materializes. 

Glad Girls- 3 A funny attempt at turning the GBV classic into a late night, throaty country ballad that oddly works. 

Goddamn Lookit My Phone Got Wet- 4  The single for the record is nearly 2 minutes of country fiddling about, the real musical showcase for the musicians here. The absurdity of Pollard's one line getting repeated through the entire song is gold!

Night Slaves- 3 This one just sort of sounds like a GBV song that escaped finding it's way onto a Suitcase collection. Not a bad Space Gun outtake? Peddle steel placed over for "country" effect. 

Rock Rock Rock- Pollard chants the title a bunch, as the song builds into a rousing group effort, but so what? 

Spoonful of Sugar- Wow! I missed Circus Devils a lot.  This 41 creeptastic seconds bring me right back. Part Tom Waits, part escaped mental patient. Solid stuff! 

Squeeze Bottle Blues- haha... The closest this comes to the genius of She Laughed I Left. 30 seconds... genius. 

Stab You In the Heart With Rock and Roll- Pollard sings in a faux Springsteen like voice, as the guitars prick and poke about. At 1:32, it's about 1:32 joyless seconds too long. 

The Monkey- 19 seconds of pure bullshit. 

Gettin' High on a Positive Note- Haha, behold the new Pollard classic! Positivity charged blues rock, as Pollard practically repeats the title with a few variations. Good time for the whole family. 

Little Amplifiers- Peddle steel nonsense, as Pollard repeats "Little amplifiers in my ears." oh---kay. 

Man With Clogs- 3 Funny enough... the looped laughing and lines is enough to help bust your gut. 

Nuttin' Without You- Bob Dylan from the '80s, is that you? Instrumentally that is. Vocally, love the fidelity changes as the recordings pop in and out. But overall... totally forgettable. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

How Do You Spell Heaven (2017)

How Do You Spell Heaven
(2017, Guided by Voices Inc.)

We arrive at ROCK 101, or so says all the press for Guided By Voices ever expanding discography. Hot off the heels of the fan-lauded August By Cake, the famed 100th LP, Pollard and gang wasted little time dropping a follow-up in the hands of the public; the 2nd installment of 2017.

Unlike, August By Cake, the follow-up is far less scattershot in terms of ideas, fidelity, and contributions. Absent from this are those (great) "solo" tracks from other members of the new and improved quintet. However, as far as a band effort, this is about as cohesive as GBV has sounded since... maybe ever? Bobby Bare Jr. and Doug Gillard play off each other like life long bandmates. The rhythm section of Mark Shue and a Kevin March is simply to die for. GBV sounds stadium ready, locked in at every turn. To his credit, Pollard also hasn't sounded this surefooted in years. Vocally, Pollard is on, rarely stumbling, new life alive in the pipes, even after 100 albums, including all the golden nugget EPs (and some straight poopers) in between.

A solid LP, the whole affair recalls the sound of late period GBV, ala Universal Truths and Cycles or say, Earthquake Glue. There's a "proggier" slant to a lot of these songs; starts and stops, mid-song shifts, ebbing dynamics. Yet, in between it all, Pollard weaves plenty of sneaky, and sometimes blatant, melodies throughout the 15 tracks (the shortest GBV track listing since 2004's Half Smiles of the Decomposed).  Recorded and mastered by Travis Harrison, the man behind the boards to most of ABC and ESP Ohio's Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopean LP, this seems perhaps the slickest GBV record since... oh I don't know... Isolation Drills? A new chapter is unfolding in the GBV universe. Keep the ship steady, and all aboard!

The Birthday Democrats5 If there's one thing Pollard knows how to do, it's open a goddamn record on a high note. Rarely has he dropped the ball on this, and "The Birthday Democrats" is no exception. From Gillard's stabbing(almost annoyingly so), guitar lead, to the soaring vocals, this 2 minute chunk of powerhouse pop bliss kicks things off steady and ready for a revisit. 

King 007- Here's where some of the more "prog" elements of the record come in. The band weaves 2 separate, almost unrelated parts together shifting from acoustic, bass-walkin, easy listening that sounds like a missing piece from Gringoto a nearly straight lift from mid '70s The Who, before dropping back to an oddly catchy GBV-familiar part. It's a dizzying, but mostly rewarding cut. 

Boy W- 2  What now is all this nonsense with electronic drum sampling? Not a bad tune, but the production choice, while interesting and perhaps risky, really takes away from the song. Whole thing falls flat, from average-at-best Pollardian tune to those razor guitar tones. I don't know, this is like The Groillaz do Dayton. 

Steppenwolf Mausoleum- 4 Step into the bleakness and let this one bleed through you slowly. Dank acoustic plucking and ambient squeaks play out as Pollard delivers a haunting melody on top. Eventually, the song kicks in, AND heavily. Solid into the declarative "chorus" of sorts, and back again to the bleak. Multifaceted all around, complete with piano accompanied outro. A grower for sure, but with near boundless rewards. 

Cretinous Number Ones- Upwardly propulsive, thanks in part to Kevin March's drum stomp. Pollard pens one flowing, catchy melody around it, building up to the new instant fan favorite chant of "I dream of drinking!" Short, sweet, and powerful. 

They Fall Silent- 3 A short, haunting gap track in between two powerhouse tracks on the record. Pollard croons through road worn vocal chords in an almost nursery rhyme cadence over bare acoustic strums. So cold, it might fog your glasses. Under a minute, and perfect placement in the LP. 

Diver Dan- 5 Perhaps the shining moment of the record. "Diver Dan" is a no bullshit, straight forward GBV rocker, complete with familiar start-stop moments and tastefully doubled vocals. If Pollard put this on Suitcase 5 one day and said this was like a lost Universal Truths... or Isolation Drills track, it'd be hard to say otherwise. Hit repeat, and add it to your latest best-of mix.

How To Murder a Man [In 3 Acts]- On ABC, we got "Substitute 11." On this LP, we get Pollard's latest "rock opera" type track, something he's tackled often on Circus Devils LPs, among others. Yes, this song is split into 3 SHORT acts, as the whole thing is just over two minutes. At first eerily catchy subtle melodies exploding into rock bombast, lead out by proggier meandering. A bit of a mess, but rewards repeated listens. 

Pearly Gates Smoke Machine- Flip over the record and yes... what a cool mid-tempo rock track, complete with killer Doug Gillard leads! Can hardly wait to hear what Pollard sings over this... Any minute now.. Wait for it.... Oh this is gonna be my new favorite GBV song!  Gillard is on fire here! C'mon Bob, hit 'em with that killer melody. Gillard's guitar lines speak volumes, hooky in their own right. Just drop in anytime Bob, not too late. Gillard's fret board is literally smoking through my headphones. Oh wait... it's over? And at 4 minutes?!!!? An instrumental... What in the world just happened and why? Soooooo good, but so what? Look, it's a damn fine instrumental but can't help feel this was one that got away. 

Tenth Century- Acoustic opening jangles about. Pollard eventually makes a vocal appearance one song too late. A cold but airy gap track of sorts. Sounds more suited as Pollard solo track from the mid-00s, but the full band lead out, and speed up, is pure late era GBV gold that saves the track!

How Do You Spell Heaven- Pollard opens this, warbling vocals shouting about in the mix. Eventually the song kicks into a fairly standard GBV/Pollard solo fair. Feels like a grower that just won't grow.  It's like a sugar cookie or vanilla ice cream. Not bad, but how can you recommend this to anyone, really?

Paper Cutz- A driving, oddly catchy song, if not somewhat annoyingly so. One of those tracks where the verses are near perfect and the chorus is almost too cloying. But not as cloying as using a "z" to spell "Cutz." What, is this a 90s brand of scissors marketed to Gen Xers? Also, the lyrics to this really stink in places. HOWEVER! For all its faults, it's hard to get out of your head, and you might not mind it taking up residence. 

Low Flying Perfection- One can picture Pollard alone on stage singing this, hand raised to the heavens as the subdued guitar jangle leads us in. Eventually the band kicks in to low momentum, lighter waving material truly carried by Pollard's vocal showing. In times of contemplation, turn to this. 

Nothing Gets You Real- A nice little Pollard pop nugget buried near the end of the LP. However, I'm slightly detracted by how light and "little" this song feels on a whole. It's a paper thin, acoustically fay pop rocker that feels like it could've benefited from a little more drive. Still, hooky as all heck, and one you can hum while the world fall down around ya. Pollard displays just how seemingly easy it is to write a killer pop song. 

Just To Show You- The lone single released for the LP closes out ROCK 101! A waltzing, weepy eyed rocker. It's a song for the end of night; tie undone, eyes bloodshot, no one left in the room. Sad, yet empowering. Overall, sounds somewhat thin, but the lackadaisical melody and the harmonies slowly take hold, and the nuances grow with very listen. Seriously, first time I heard it, I hated it. Now look at me... A success in listening beyond your wildest dreams. Now where did I put that Cash Rivers 7''? 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

She Laughed I Left 7'' (2017)

She Laughed I Left 7"
(2017, Yuk Yuk Motherfucker Records)

As of this posting, there are 2 Robert Pollard solo releases I have debated posting/reviewing in some sort of fashion; his 2 comedy LPs. If you're reading this review, there's a good chance you've dug deep enough and are somewhat informed that Robert Pollard has released comedy LPs, titled Relaxation of the Asshole and Meet the King: Asshole 2. Both titles, released on the fictional Yuk Yuk Motherfucker Records are novelty, stage banter LPs for a late night spin, but mostly just to get you thinking "I can't believe he released this," some how making you laugh harder.

With all that bullshit said, welcome to Yuk Yuk Motherfucker Records VOLUME 3. Cash Rivers is the latest, and greatest (?) in Pollard approved fake monikers. It's a 45 RPM 7'' packed with 17 "songs." Reportedly recorded on a cell phone, this is equal parts country, comedy, novelty record. Essentially, it's Pollard riffing fake titles, or lines that would become the title, possibly backstage to the chagrin of those lucky enough to be sipping beers with the Wizard of Northridge.

Is this ridiculous? 100%. However, this tiny glimpse of a novelty is a must have for drunken wit of a musical genius, who can be as funny as he is prodigious. Cash Rivers is not a must have for anyone, but everyone should hear it. Acoustic guitar, Uncle Bob vocals on display, and the cackling of those lucky enough to have witnessed this "recording session."

500 copies released through Rockathon Records only. Not available in stores. No download code. 

A B C- Pollard sings most of the ABCs... but not all of them.. YES!

Back on Cholesterol- Pollard sings the title. Catchy and a knee slapper. 

Bring Your Nasty Ass Home- The twangiest of the lot so far. Trailer lovin' good times. 

Buckets and Shots- Sneeze and you'll miss it bullshit. LOLzzzzzzzz

Cocaine On My Way Home From Church- Greatest title made into the saddest country song ever?

Diapers To Panties Instant classic. Can't get it out of my head, brining tears of joy wherever I may roam. Nearly a real song at about 30 seconds. 

Drinkin' With Abraham Lincoln- Pollard rhymes the title with the first line. HA! 

I Can't Blame the Rain- So short, and not funny so it sucks!!! hahaha

I Had To Pay For My Own Birthday Party- It's sad having to pay for one's own birthday party. Thankfully Pollard immortalized it in song. 

My Good Friends From Brooklyn- Hank Williams move over. So much is sad (said?) in this short tale. 

My Next Beer Will Be In Heaven5 Goddamn doctor tells you your liver is drying up... So sad, but true. 

On My Last Day of Freedom- Perfection  

Pack of Zig Zags- Pollard stumbles over some bullshit, rockin rollin' country nonsense. 

She's Too Old For Trick Or Treat- Pollard declares he's Cash Rivers on this. 3 strums that don't rhyme. Weeeeemm-Wommmmmm

She Stole My Man Panties-  "Diapers to Panties" the "reprise" version? Valiant effort. 

Summertime Santa Clause- Another rockin' good time for the holidays, or a beach party in a drunken haze. Or perfect when coming out of your blackout stage during the holidays or on a beach.

Wrong Way Road- And so it unfortunately comes to an end. 2 somber lines, over 3 or four guitar strums. Oh well... Cash Rivers MUST return to save us all. 

Just To Show You 7" (2017)

Just To Show You 7"
(2017, Guided by Voices Inc.)

The lone single released for How Do You Spell Heaven LP. The Pollard-penned "Just To Show You" opens side A, while the exclusive cut, "Knife City" sits in obscurity on Side B. A Gillard/Shue composition, this makes the single worth tracking down. Limited to 500 copies on clear green vinyl. 

Just To Show You- The same version that appears on the LP How Do You Spell Heaven. Read the review over there! 

Knife City- 4 In classic fashion, the b-side is reserved to the bullpen players. A Doug Gillard/Mark Shue penned tune helps add another to the cannon of songs, but a solid one at that. A prickly, potent guitar jangle holds this upwardly poppy tune together. A worthy nod to Tobin Sprout harmonies in the verses. Shit, even the bridge is pretty damn solid. If this were on August By Cake, all GBV nuts would have their favorite 33rd song of the LP to rave about. Bubble-gummy and melancholy.