Friday, March 27, 2020

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 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 (, 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" 



    For fans of, i dunno....the 90s hahaha


    For fans of, i dunno....the 90s hahaha

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Oh, MAN! I'm glad you've done this because my mind has started down this road several times. There's just something about the universe of Pollard that once you're really in it you want to start making a map. I'm glad someone has done it. Reading what you've written here and looking over your reviews, I think we're of the same mind about Pollards body of work. You're my kind of Soldier hahaha

    1. Awesome! Thanks for reading Dusin. Yeah, this began as a way for me to map some forgotten songs, that I honestly still forget about. I have consulted my own reviews to remember names/releases of certain songs along the way. Thanks again for the good words and reading. Check back in soon. More releases/reviews from me on the way!

    2. I'm liking your reviews. It's good to see reviews of Pollard's albums from a fan. I also really like the way you write your reviews. Do you have any kind of background in music or writing? Also how and when did you get into GBV?
      On the subject of new Pollard releases: So often I find that songs that I overlooked in the beginning grow on me with repeated listening. I can tell by your reviews that you're familiar with this phenomenon. How long do you give yourself with an album and have you ever gone back to a review to change your opinion?

    3. Hey Dustin. Quick briefing on my process and timeline. Got into GBV when I was finishing high school and exploring more indie rock from straight punk stuff and the like. Being a completest, GBV turned into a real challenge at first, but I got a majority of the available GBV stuff at the time within a few months. I finally caught up with everything (solo and side-projects) and have kept up since about 2006.

      No music writing background other than simply enjoying to write about what I'm into.

      As far as giving the songs a chance, with the original reviews, I had a few time to sit on them before starting it. With new releases, I like to listen to it a bunch, really dedicating a week. Songs do change over that time. I'll sometimes go about a month before writing about a new one until I feel confident in what I've gotten out of it. There's a few I've grown to like more but haven't gone back to elaborate or change a review. Just a few grammatical changes but I leave it as is. Of course, I'm the first to admit I could be way off the mark, or missing what others see completely. With that said, the new Circus Devils should be up soon. Think I've almost properly digested this new one. Thanks again for reading!

  5. I'm listening to Suitcase 4 as I read this...are you posting a review soon?

  6. Oh man, this is crazy. crazy AND fantastic. Thank you.

  7. Yes, this guide you've created is awesome. Also, nice to have reviews from a big fan who is, nevertheless, willing to say when a song actually sucks (instead of being "blind" to that)!

  8. well constructed and very interesting i have bookmarked you, hopefully you keep posting new stuff, many thanks

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  10. Just got my copy of the Cash Rivers e.p.--can't wait to hear what you think!

  11. A great resource, especially as I am starting to go through and fill out my collection of solo albums, side projects, and other detritus. Thanks for making this!

  12. Thanks for the great words! Appreciate you checking it out! Cheers!

  13. Does anyone have the precise, current number of recorded compositions penned by Bob?

    1. The number 3100 came up in a couple recent articles but I don’t know where that actually came from? The GBV database has almost 2600 listed (which I think includes covers)... back in the mid 90s Pollard said he had 5000 penned but I think that was a bit of hyperbole.