Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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.


In addition, THE RATING SYSTEM:
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, August 19, 2019

Loose Shoes (2019)

Loose Shoes
(2019, Bomb Record) 


Are you fucking kidding me? I have to do this shit again? 

Welcome to the THIRD release from Cash Rivers and the Sinners. Now I say third release, but really, it's the FOURTH release if you count (and you should) Cash Rivers' solo 7'' She Laughed I Left. Already, I can tell my mind is a warped pile of gelatinous gloop because I have just referred to Cash Rivers as if he were a real person.

Fortunately, he's not. However, I'm sure we all know someone like Cash Rivers, and luckily, like these extremely limited releases, they hopefully rarely make it into your home. 

With that said, let's dive into the (alleged) LAST album from Cash Rivers and the Sinners. I know I said the same thing with the rather incredible double LP Do Not Try to Adjust Your Set I Am the Horizontal and Vertical. I only say “last”, because that's what camp Rockathon had said before announcing this limited slab. In the world of Cash Rivers, things are never as they seem.

Marketed as a bootleg record, this collection of 32 "songs" in 27 minutes is reportedly all the leftovers of Cash and his Sinners. Now, if I may get out of fantasy land for a minute, Pollard and gang had originally planned for a CD box set of all Cash Rivers tracks, including this very bonus material. Instead, the good people at Rockathon pulled the plug on the idea and released this ultra limited LP (500 to be exact), to drive the collectors up a wall once again, and pump more Pollard drunken comedy into the world at inflated 3rd party prices. 

Are we better for it? At this point, fuck it, yeah sure? Is this good? No. Is it better than Blue Balls Lincoln? Maybe? Listen to this as a whole while munchin' on LSD and freebasing corndogs. 

In conclusion, stick a fork in Cash. He's fuckin' done. 

On with the show. 

SIDE A: 
See Alice- 3 Did I laugh? Yes. Again, like Do Not Try To Adjust... why does this sound so good? A real boner of track. That streamboat at the end kills!

Shemaho- 1 Street-walkin' cock rock straight out of the '80s. You know this stinks when the shining moment comes courtesy of eagle screeching sound effects complimented with neighing horse accompaniment. 

What?- 2 So incredibly stupid that I continued to sit on my couch laughing at how fucking stupid this was, while reaching for my beer. Another step closer to hip-hop territory for Pollard. 

2 Fisted Drinker- The "Tacoma intro" is worth price of admission. The rest is complete nothing, as Pollard Rivers repeats the title over a Bonanza type rodeo jam.

Wanna Do a Shot?- 4 Busted a gut. There's completely fucking ridiculous and then there's this. Comedy meets bar metal. 

Better About Myself- 1 So stupid I wanna cry. 

Party Hearty- 1 Did I already write the line "so stupid I wanna cry"? Yes... yes I did. Well, this is worse. 

White Wine Woman, Red Wine Man- A rootin-tootin good time. Cowboy bar rock that sounds tooooo real. Good for a quick chuckle and then best left on the shelf to be forgotten. Nearly a real song at 2 minutes, this one even sports a freakin' bridge! 

We've All Been Drinking- A '90s alternative throwback, could've been an updated theme for a sitcom, perhaps Cheers? Oddly catchy slack rock 

9:49- Clap and stomp bar chant pumps out of the speakers courtesy of a head-in-the-toilet Cash Rivers. This song makes me realize that my willpower is for shit, because I find this song funny. 

Green Beans- 1 Speaking of crap... this maybe be the most steaming pile of it on the record thus far. 

No Prob Limo- 1 Stupid promo track... can you call this a track? 

Tickle and a Twenty- 3 Fuck, Pollard really wrote a catchy goddamn tune here. Tex-Mex countrefried goodness. Really lacking in the lyric department, but this has sing-a-long potential. Damn if my toes weren't tapping. 

Two and a Half Tanks- 1 Piano nonsense at under 20 seconds. What? 

Buzz Clip- 1 I'm not laughing, I'm crying, and not because I'm laughing. About 12 seconds long. 

Brown Bottle Flu- 1 I don't understand this.... get me another beer. 

Better 2- Alright! A 5 SECOND reprise of the song "Better About Myself." Did you need this in your life? Well, too fucking bad. At this point, I've already typed WAAAAYYYY more than this song deserves. Again, it's 5 seconds long. Still typing....  I can type forever... 

Out- 1 But I won't, because I have to move onto the track "Out." I've come here to say this is all spoken word and it stinks! Goodbye. 


SIDE B:
Dick In a Knot4 Thankfully, a new Pollard... I mean Cash (forgive me Mr. Pollard), has given us a classic to one day lie in our graves with. Okay, really though, this symphonic motherfolker is one catchy bleepin' tune. And to say nothing of the autotuned laughter and boner noises? 

Bobby Bare Promo- Country music legend Bobby Bare returns from his spoken word appearance on the last record to put his name on new low. 

Holding Hands With Barry Gibb- 3 Rhyming "Barry Gibb" with "very glib" has gotta be worth something? Right? 

SORM- 1 I honestly don't know... fill me in. 

Walking on Clown Shoes- 3 When complete stupidity becomes genius... it cracked me up. And don't it feel good? (originally written by Katrina and the Waves).

Feels Good To Be Loved- 1 What the stink is this? ... best part is the argumentative outro. How often can you say that? 

Athman- A classic lisp track "Athman" is. Subpar garage rock with "ath" jokes dragged through the mud. 

Sundown- 1 Woof! Oh hey! That's a nice little double guitar part. 

Too Much Makeup- 1 Drunk ranting that leads into... 

The Funky Mummy- 1 ... the same spoken drunken ranting over skeletal "hip-hop" drum loop. The Chick Corea reference is good enough for a smirk. 

She's Got Fingers- 1 Piano smashing with Pollard singing about fingers in the time it takes you to let out 3 good sneezes. The fuck? 

She's a Lesbian Now- 2 Almost a song, almost funny... How is it that a song called "She's a Lesbian Now" is a breath of fresh air in the complete massacre that is Side 2 of this record? 

God's Toe Nail- Swingin' no-fi doo-wop that leads absolutely nowhere. 

Strong Lion [Cash version]- 4 Incredible undone-bowtie-Sinatra-karaoke version of song written by a guy named Robert Pollard, complete with befuddled big band backing and all. A small triumph, but yet, a complete wreck, much like this whole fucking slab of wax. 








(Dislodge) The Immortal Orangemen (2019)

(Dislodge) The Immortal Orangemen 7"
(2019, Rockathon Records) 



Since 2003, Robert Pollard has been releasing collections of poetry and artwork under the collected title Eat. Starting as a modest expansion of the man's artwork, the collections have grown bigger in page numbers, and in scope, much like all of Pollard's output. If you've stopped and taken a look at any volume of Eat, or perhaps go revisit, you'll notice a plethora of LP artwork, both front and back covers, buried in the pages of Pollard's extensive collages.

With 2019's Eat 15, Pollard raised the stakes. His longest collection of artwork to date also featured the return of the Pollard solo moniker for his first showing since 2016s Of Course You Are. A 6 song, no frills one-sided 7'' came with Eat 15, tucked into the back flap. Page 131 of the collection collects the "liner notes" for this exclusive 7''.

Far from essential, this is a fun artifact to behold, perhaps to put on flipping through the pages of Pollard's cut and paste hungry mind, if only for 6 brief minutes. Each track is a classic boombox demo-like track, of similar nature to all 4 Suitcase collections or, say, the Let It Beard Boombox Demos CD. Drop the needle, briefly kick back, and eavesdrop on a man pounding out his legacy on rickety acoustics. 


Late Night Worm- Brittle, seemingly off-the-cuff tune walks a familiar, and classic, GBV walk-down on the guitar. Melancholy and haunting. 38 seconds of mystery, melody, and warbled vocal cords. 

Nurses Smoking Cigarettes- 4 Seems to be some percussion in the rattle here! Is that cymbal crash in the dissonance? Pollard provides a strong melody in between cryptic pauses. Jangly and bombastic, in the no-fi sense. In between the hiss, this is a real winner. 

The Sea Hags Of North Dayton- Acoustic stomp rocker that sounds like it'd fit wonderfully on an early Pollard solo LP if fleshed out. Complete with warped bar room noises, trippy and chaotic with underlying promise. 

Mirror Of The Maniac- 2 Sounds like an acoustic guitar played through a flange pedal, this is a short mood piece that meanders about and never really goes anywhere of note. 

Pain- Driving psycho tune complete with drum machine backbone.  Repetitive 2 chord riff complete with psych riffs. A little slice of art damaged Krautrock via Dayton. An addictive experiment from Pollard. 

Trumpets and Trumps- Sad acoustic ringouts as Pollard barely makes it out of the speakers, crooning lowly in the background. A comedic social commentary if you will, at 2 sentences long. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tractor Tunes, Volume 1 (2000)

Tractor Tunes, Volume 1
(2000, Fresh Cow Pie)

For some godforsaken make-the-collector-sweat reason, Robert Pollard stuffed one ultra elusive track into the depths of record collecting hell. And here it is. Such is the case, that on this site, as I boasted to have commented on all Pollard studio tracks, little did I realize I neglected ONE single track. Hell, maybe there's a few more out there, but I think the lone track under the Kuda Labranche moniker covers it!

The fact that a song by Pollard's Kuda Labranche existed did not escape me. In fact, I've stumbled upon a picture of the cover to Tractor Tunes Volume 1 a few times online. However, the track listed online for the compilation was "My Big Day." Lord knows I didn't need to hear this, as all 3 versions were released on Guided by Voices' Suitcase: Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircraft. Surely, this Kuda Labranche track HAD to be one of the ones included. BUT NO!.... it was not. (turns out I also ignored the comment by one Lucas Gelati in 2016 informing me "There's yet another version of "My Big Day", credited to Kuda Labranche that was released on "Tractor Tunes, Volume 1". It's the better of the four in my opinion."


And I'll be damned. That IS the case! Presented here is the long lost review to "My Big Day" (the 4th version known to exist).  Released on a CD included with the Fresh Cow Pie zine, this run is supposedly limited to 500 copies and includes a track from GBV alumn Mitch Mitchell's Terrifying Experience. 

Happy hunting for this one! 




My Big Day [Version 4]-  Only to be found on this obscure compilation included with zine, Pollard releases the BEST version of this generally lackluster song. The 3 versions released as one LONG track on Suitcase is enough to make you drool out the side of your skull with boredom. Here, this sounds like a GBV full studio outtake winner that got away. The layered vocal harmonies alone carry this. The crunch and swirl of the guitars enter psych rock territory. All at a minute and a half, this version KILLS! 


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Warp and Woof (2019)

Warp and Woof
(2019, Guided by Voices Inc.) 




In the world of GBV fandom, the course of time moves both forward and backwards, at times seemingly suspended in motion. From Pollard's manic writing pace, to his almost equally fervent output, seasons blend together, memories coalesce. You can forget about trying to pinpoint the exact years on certain releases without stumbling into moments of hesitation and recollection. Through the crackling fidelity, past the timeless nostalgia of the catalog, bolstered by the sheer will for Pollard to continue to press forward with such fluidity and determination (strengthening, weakening, rebounding, resurging, onward and forward), time is but an outsiders construct in Pollard's land. As the man said himself, "Life is short. GBV is long." Perhaps the timelessness has never been so evident as with the release of their newest LP, Warp and Woof.

Only 84 days after their polarizing 32 song tome, Zeppelin Over China, and 13 months removed from the streamlined Space Gun, its enough to make one nearly nauseous with giddiness at the very existence of such an embarrassment of riches. To make matters even more salivating, the newest offering from GBV glides smoothly into the discography, a throwback to the off-the-cuff GBV formula that made them #1 in the hearts of legions.

For this go-round, Pollard and the powerhouse reinvigorated line-up of Gillard, Shue, Bare Jr., and March tried a different approach. Warp and Woof combines Pollard and company's 4 limited EPs (released late 2018 and early 2019), with a revised tracklist order for the optimum lone LP listening experience; one of Pollard's many idiosyncrasies when it comes to fine tuning his art. The new LP begs the question, "What happens when your favorite prolific band releases 4 separate EPs and then rereleases everything as an LP? " Beside dropping a shitload of money on a 5 separate vinyl offerings to get the same songs, the whole experiences makes for an exciting new twist in the listening process that is the Pollard songsphere.

This isn’t the first time GBV released, or rather rereleased a collection such as this. Fans will recall the 10 song The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet; an LP length sized EP constructed of Universal Truths and Cyclesb-side tracks that had previously been released on four 7'' singles. Unlike the aforementioned collection, it's the immediacy of each track, and coalescence of the current band, that makes Warp and Woof feel that much more necessary, and less like a repackaging of previously released material. Presented in this different context, the flow from track to track opens new avenues into these songs, giving them new meaning and feeling.

Warp and Woof straddles the fine line of sharp and loose throughout the entire 36 rapid fire minutes of its grooves. When one idea doesn’t quite gel, fear not, because a new one is just a short track away. Sometimes, those rapid fire ideas are just a couple chords away in the same track. Its that spontaneity that gives the whole album the feel of classic GBV of yore. This collection of free flying melodies, choppy guitar heroics, and warbled Pollard lyrical snippets-and is enough to bring a tear after a few spins. Not everything here is a gem, as is the case with the dense GBV output, but the torrent of ideas runs deep and quick, attacking with such brevity and ferocity that it’s tough not to lift the needle up and drop back at the beginning.  



SIDE A:
Bury the Mouse- 4 The most metal GBVs ventured in a long while? Is "metal" the right word here? A delightful dirge of an opening that gets better with ever spin. A snarled punchy, punk number delivered with deadpanned Pollard stiff-upper-lip delivery, minus the jest. The whole affair is only heightened by the expansively brief bridge. Fans will also lose their mind over Pollard singing "same place the fly got smashed." 

Angelic Weirdness- 4 Case in point of the title defining the entire song. In fact, and I am purely curiously speculating here, this could very well be Pollard flying his Ween appreciation freak flag. If this were on Ween's The Pod or GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, would we question it? With that said, this is not to be missed. Pollard's vocal delivery is off-putting at first, yet somewhat heavenly thanks to studio effect, sounding almost ghostly. Dropped over the acoustic backbone of the song, it's oh-so-sweet, and sinks its hooks into you slowly but surely. 

Foreign Deputies- 4 The absolute perfect stop-gap-track that makes GBV so magical in the first place. On its own, at first, the song is almost a sneeze in the wind. Yet, it's so cryptic, haunting, it keeps you salivating for more. The perfect transition song that lightly fades into...

Dead Liquor Store- 5 Sounding like some mash up of a Sega Genesis game meets caffeinated punk track, the song is tough not to root for through gritted teeth and jittery eyeballs. Between Kevin March's high tension drumming, Gillard and Bare's rope-taut guitar stabs, and Shue's warbling, see-saw bass pummels, it's pure aural gratification. Harkens back to Space Gun's impeccable "Daily Getups" a bit. The tacked on swooning end part of "might get a taste of you, might get a taste of me," seals the deal as new GBV classic. 

Mumbling Amens- Moody and prickly. Like a cold mid-summer's day mist rolling in off Lake Erie  into the industrial compounds of Cleveland, there's beauty here, but perhaps not apparent at first. A breath of air, or one best suited for moments of looking out at the gloom with hands planted firmly in pockets.

Cohesive Scoops-  Has all the makings of GBV classic-in-the-making. A thin line keeps this "really good" tune from becoming a "great" one. Pollard's vocals, whether by production or unsteady single take performance, sound off kilter at times. The warbled harmonized lead out, though, comes together as trustworthy GBV gold. Breezy and worthy of a high leg kick.

Photo Range Within- 3 Blink-and-you'll-miss-it simplicity here. Pollard and company roll lightly into whimsical country meets child-like simplicity here. Catchy in an somewhat idiotic way, anchored by Shue's lead bass, and given life by the prickly guitars of Gillard and Bare. Almost sounds like a thrift-store rendition of a passable Pavement outtake, a band that made their living on thrift store ideals.

My Dog Surprise- 2 Musically, this could've fit somewhere buried in Universal Truths and Cycles era, or perhaps a leftover from ZOC. A mid-tempo number lagging in much of note, only dragged down by Pollard's horrid vocal posturing. Still not sure if it's a dog named "Surprise," or titled so as in giving one a "dog surprise." I'm not sure which is worse? A lumbering affair that sticks in your brain for the wrong reasons.

Tiny Apes- 4 Another over-before-it-starts number, one that relies mostly on its surf ravaged guitar bending and scratching. The song goes from surf rock graveyard, to salvageable for about 6 second mid song. Eventually the song finishes surprisingly solid, begging for a replay. Pollard kills it throughout vocally. This is what happens when a dumb soundcheck song become a full-fledged tune, and then continues to somehow become your minor weirdo favorite. 

Blue Jay House- 3 Starts off sounding like this could be one propulsive song! A simple guitar riff we've heard lead off countless songs in the rock universe before. You just know it's gonna slay. Eventually it sort of dribble about over 2 minutes, recalling more of a 90s The Fall feel (backed by acoustics and keyboard jabs), rather than anything resembling propulsion. Pollard's melody and delivery feels too uninspired to make this stick as anything more than a dude singing over mid-tempo repetition. Oddly arresting. 

Down the Island- 4 Is it the thunderstorm effects in the background? Is it the reverb-set-to-11 cloak shrouding the vocals? The harpsichord keyboard noodling? Whatever the case, this skeletal tune gets better with every listen. A real for-fans-only track, perhaps. Equal parts haunting, humid, and hopeful comprise this understated Pollard ballad. 

Thimble Society- Repetitive, low budget industrial-prog guitar and drum backbone holds it together as Pollard lays down a strong double vocal showing. When living on the odder side of life, this one begins to pay off with repeated listens. With low lights at the next GBV show, may you bask in its glory, raise a hand, in a sea of marijuana haze as the guitars wash over you. 



SIDE B:
My Angel-  Instant classic, and perfect way to kick of Side 2. This almost feels like cut and paste Pollard material, but one you're never too tired to revisit. So simplistic, so joyous. The hooks throughout are pure.  Additionally, the guitar crunch on this is fantastic. All at under a minute and a half. 

More Reduction Linda- 4 Guitar wise, brings about dizzying memories of "Field Jacket Blues" off Pollard's From a Compound Eye. Epileptic in both its guitar and tom rolls approach while allowing for momentary 2 chord pop moments. Great Pollard double vocals on the "she always knows" parts, along with top notch Gillard guitar noodling. 

Cools Jewels and Aprons- 5 Perhaps the single greatest GBV throwback to the days of your since anything off Cool Planet or Motivational Jumpsuit. This is straight from Under the Bushes Under the Stars era. A to-die-for descending guitar pattern in the choruses, and short-as-shit verses complete with two-part harmony. At a hair over a minute long, this is Pollard gold. Amazing. 

Even Next- 4 Time to fly the Pollard ballad flag once more. Somewhere between the timeless turning wheels of a grandfather clock and a far off nursery rhyme, you'll find this foggy dream sequence of a lullaby waiting for you. Eventually the wafting tempo  gives way to steadier Kevin March drum part, anchored by Gillard's added strings. Only wish the blown-out ending could last one more measure. All the more reason to make you revisit. 

It Will Never Be Simple- 2 A perfectly fine and harmless track. But in my GBV universe, do I really need to hear a Doug Gillard solo INSTRUMENTAL front and center here?  This two and a half minute track feels like an epic compared to all the other off-the-cuff tunes. Didn't make sense to me on the 100 Dougs EP. Still doesn't make sense to me in the middle of Side 2. 

The Stars Behind Us- 4 Ageless GBV territory here. Bare holds this together with steady guitar chug and Gillard flies off the rails on some twisted leads. The song does feel like it misses the opportunity to cash in on several killer hook moments, but the lead-out is a solid payoff along with Pollard's stony, yet tuneful delivery. Steadfast GBV gratification. 

Skull Arrow- 1 How dumb is too dumb? Every GBV record needs 1 pure dud, I guess? Here it is in all its terrible glory. Feels like it was conceived and recorded in the same brain cell it took for the "skull arrow" to kill. 

Out Of the Blue Race- Speaking of dumb ideas... Constipated Bob is back! As if in the midst of drunken bowel troubles, Uncle Bob digs into his baritone moments for this lackluster guitar boner of a tune. For such short tune, this feels like such an exercise in patience. 

Coming Back From Now On- 2 Speaking of dumb ideas....  This is the only section of the LP where it feels the throw-aways, and worst ideas were banished to skip-ability island.  Here, Pollard announces the track over screaming-fan sound effects. The song awkwardly transitions between mind-numbing rock tune and near high-kick territory. Unfortunately, Pollard's melodies are DOA throughout. 

The Pipers, The Vipers, The Snakes!- 4 Late LP redemption! Clunky mid-tempo rocker that is more wholly familiar GBV territory. Solid harmonies, great delivery. Musically; short on ideas, but rewarding after a few spins on the turntable, bolstered by harmonic vocal outro. Repetitive, hitting all the right spots. 

Time Remains In Central Position- 4 During the recording of Mag Earwhig! and Do the Collapse, maybe... just maybe... Pollard penned this tune, and resurrected it from the boombox tapes. One can dream, but this is vintage mid to late 90s.  Takes its time to unfold at mid-tempo, feeling like it swells, but remains on first raising auto pilot. 


End It With Light- 5 Perhaps not since Do the Collapse's "An Unmarketed Product" has a closer felt so immediate and catchy. Brief, pounding, profound. Top notch LP closer, one that requires  only a minute in change of your time. Like a lost gem from Alien Lanes, "End It With Light," truly does as its title implies, reminding us why GBV is number 1 in our hearts and on our score cards. 




1901 Acid Rock (2019)

1901 Acid Rock
(2019, Guided by Voices Inc.)



On March 29, 2019, round two of the GBV EP saga continued. 3 months removed from the first two entries in the quintet, 1901 Acid Rock and Umlaut Over the Ozone hit stores. Like the first 2, each EP was pressed on black wax and limited to 1000.

And like the first two, each song featured the current line-up firing off song snippet shots from the hip. No place is this quality of material greater in the collection that 1901 Acid Rock, as if vying for greatest GBV EP of all-time!

Each of these songs were collected less than a month later on the Warp and Woof  LP.


SIDE A:
Dead Liquor Store- 5 Sounding like some mash up of a Sega Genesis game meets caffeinated punk track, the song is tough not to root for through gritted teeth and jittery eyeballs. Between Kevin March's high tension drumming, Gillard and Bare's rope-taught guitar stabs, and Shue's warbling, see-saw bass pummels, it's pure aural gratification. Harkens back to Space Gun's impeccable "Daily Getups" a bit. The tacked on swooning end part of "might get a taste of you, might get a taste of me," seals the deal as new GBV classic.

Cools Jewels and Aprons- 5 Perhaps the single greatest GBV throwback to the days of your since anything off Cool Planet or Motivational Jumpsuit. This is straight from Under the Bushes Under the Stars era. A to-die-for descending guitar pattern in the choruses, and short-as-shit verses complete with two-part harmony. At a hair over a minute long, this is Pollard gold. Amazing.

Down the Island- 4 Is it the thunderstorm effects in the background? Is it the reverb-set-to-11 effect on the vocals? The harpsichord keyboard noodling? Whatever the case, this skeletal tune gets better with every listen. A real for-fans-only track, perhaps. Equal parts haunting, humid, and hopeful in this understated Pollard ballad. 


SIDE B:
My Dog Surprise- 2 Musically, this could've fit somewhere buried in Universal Truths and Cycles era, or perhaps a leftover from ZOC. A mid-tempo number lagging in much to note, only dragged down by Pollard's horrid vocal posturing. Still not sure if it's a dog names "Surprise," or as in giving one a "dog surprise." I'm not sure which is worse? A lumbering affair that sticks in your brain for the wrong reasons.

Even Next- 4 Time to fly the Pollard ballad flag once more. Somewhere between the timeless turning wheels of a grandfather clock and a far off nursery rhyme, you'll find this foggy dream sequence of a lullaby waiting for you. Eventually the wafting tempo  gives way to steadier Kevin March drum part, anchored by Gillard's added strings. Only wish the blown-out ending could last one more measure. All the more reason to make you revisit.

Time Remains In Central Position- 4 During the recording of Mag Earwhig! and Do the Collapse, maybe... just maybe... Pollard penned this tune, and resurrected it from the boombox tapes. One can dream, but this is vintage mid to late 90s.  Takes its time to unfold at mid-tempo, feeling like it swells, but remains on first raising auto pilot. 


Umlaut Over the Özone (2019)

Umlaut Over the Özone
(2019, Guided by Voices Inc.) 


On March 29, 2019, round two of the GBV EP saga continued. 3 months removed from the first two entries in the quintet, 1901 Acid Rock and Umlaut Over the Ozone hit stores. Like the first 2, each EP was pressed on black wax and limited to 1000.

And like the first two, each song featured the current line-up firing off song snippet shots from the hip. Umlaut Over the Ozone proves to be a strong EP full of "angelic weirdness" and haphazard GBV ideas tightly packed into an enjoyable slab of wax. The only deterrent is having to flip this gem over, repeatedly.

Each of these songs were collected less than a month later on the Warp and Woof LP.


SIDE A:
Angelic Weirdness- 4 Case in point of the title defining the entire song. In fact, this could very well be Pollard flying his Ween appreciation freak flag. If this were on Ween's The Pod or GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, would we question it? With that said, this is not to be missed. Pollard's vocal delivery is somewhat off-putting at first, yet somewhat heavenly thanks to studio effect. Dropped over the acoustic backbone of the song, it's oh-so-sweet, and sinks its hooks into you slowly.

More Reduction Linda- 4 Guitar wise, brings about dizzying memories of "Field Jacket Blues" off Pollard's From a Compound Eye. Epileptic in both its guitar and tom rolls approach while allowing for momentary 2 chord pop moments. Great Pollard double vocals on the "she always knows" parts, along with Gillard guitar noodling.

Blue Jay House- 3 Starts off sounding like this could be one propulsive song! A simple guitar riff we've heard lead off countless songs in the rock universe before. You just know it's gonna slay. Eventually it sort of dribble about over 2 minutes, recalling more of a 90s The Fall feel (backed by acoustics and keyboard jabs), rather than anything resembling propulsion. Pollard's melody and delivery feels too uninspired to make this stick as anything more than a dude singing over mid-tempo repetition. 



SIDE B:
Photo Range Within- 3 Blink-and-you'll-miss-it simplicity here. Pollard and company rolls lightly into whimsical country meets child-friendly simplicity here. Catchy and an almost idiotic way, anchored by Shue's lead bass, and given life by the prickly guitars of Gillard and Bare. Almost sounds like a thrift-store rendition of a passable Pavement outtake, a band that made their living on thrift store ideals.

Mumbling Amens- Moody and prickly. Like a cold mid-summer's day mist rolling in off Lake Erie  into the industrial compounds of Cleveland, there's beauty here, but perhaps not apparent at first. A breath of air, or one best suited for moments of looking out at the gloom with hands planted firmly in pockets.

End It With Light- 5 Perhaps not since Do the Collapse's "An Unmarketed Product has a closer felt so immediate and catchy. Brief, pounding, profound. Top notch LP closer, one that requires  only a minute in change of your time. Like a lost gem from Alien Lanes, "End It With Light," truly does as its title implies, reminding us why GBV is number 1 in our hearts and on our score cards. 



Monday, February 18, 2019

Zeppelin Over China (2019)

ZEPPELIN OVER CHINA
(2019, Guided by Voices Inc.)


There are two types of GBV fans (as a matter of convenient comparison here): Those who are familiar and enjoy the '90s output, and those who hang on to and swear by the Pollard gospel (owning LPs with names like The Completed Soundtrack For the Tropic of Nipples) . The former is free to go about their lives, dipping in and out, enjoying other worldly hobbies and recreation. The latter hangs by the man's every note and beer soaked breath, reluctant or unwilling to slander anything he's so graciously released to us over the years.

I, for better or worse, find myself in the latter category. Rejoicing with every release, I am selfishly hungered to the point of starvation, needing more more more, as the ravenous fan so often does. Tracking down, listening, and loving (well....) everything is part of the addiction (hence, this site you are currently on). However, I try to take the blinders off from time to time.

So it pained me to no end when Zeppelin Over China came out of my stereo the first time, and continued to for the next 75 minutes, dragging, banging, clanging; falling flat. Upon first spin, I thought; I actively dislike about 5 Bob records... and now this could be #6.

Zeppelin Over China follows much in the same vein as some other Pollard double LPs of the past (Let It BeardFrom a Compound Eye). The songs are longer, darker, leaning heavily towards prog rather than pop (Universal Truths and Cycles, comes to mind).  Hooks are hidden, or buried beneath the ebb and flow of instrumentation, taking a back seat to post-punk groove, middle of the night balladry, and tom-tom propelled dirges.

Like many Pollard records, Zeppelin Over China is a grower, but a dense and murky one at that. It's challenging, but is it necessarily a good challenge? Many of these songs, to say the least, do merit repeated listens. It's a lot to take in with one listen, however, one finds themselves succumbing to many moments, hidden hooks poking out from darkened corners when you least expect it. That is, if you can make it through the myriad of tracks that run into the 3 minute zone. The LP could've greatly benefited from many songs being chopped in half in classic GBV fashion.

Being only the 2nd double album of Guided by Voices long and storied career (and coming less than two years after their first double), it's so tempting to want to proclaim this as a new masterpiece of the cannon. How I wanted to love this record so badly, after the triumphant Space Gun LP, and the dizzying experimentation of their previous double, August By Cake. While Space Gun stood as the lone GBV album release of 2018, it was an album I heralded as one of GBVs all-time best. August By Cake, while flawed, felt like a disorientingly fun experience, bolstered by contributions from all four members not named Pollard. On this double LP, however, it was as if Pollard said "Oh yeah, I can write 32 songs all by myself!" and then delivered a giant brick of ideas, and occasionally in-tune vocals he had to get down before the first lunch break.


Zeppelin Over China is not for the faint of heart, but it is sure to satisfy many fans while bringing many to debate the merits of these songs. Hang with it, at the very least, it stands as a head turning doorstop in the middle of an incredible reunion run with this invigorating lineup. Perhaps one day, it will achieve that masterpiece status, leaving me kicking myself... alone, stinking, and unafraid.






SIDE A:
Good Morning Sir- If there is one thing Pollard nails nearly every time, it's kicking things off with a bang. Rarely has he opened a record, especially a GBV record with nothing short of a stunner. As the song limps into is wobbly ending, it becomes apparent that what's ahead may not be par for the course. However, after a few listens, this meandering snippet of a tune grows legs of its own and clings to the brain. Still, this minute track feels like it has multiple opportunities to become a stone-cold classic, but never fully develops.

Step of the Wave- The song title is about as catchy and interesting as the song itself. A lifeless pulse of a gray track. Monotonously beats you over the head for 3 tuneless minutes. The chorus shows a spark of life from the band, but the melody, and (lack of creative) turn is a true snooze. The repetitive, building post-punk ending, complete with Gillard solo, is a minor treat that almost saves it. 

Carapace- 1 The fact that this mind numbing '70s rocker song is 3 and a half minutes in itself is a sin. Pollard repeats the phrase "turtle shell" about 50 times, and does some mumbled repeated delivery of "sarcophagus" halfway through that's enough to make one's skin crawl. It may be one of the dumbest vocal moments he's ever committed to tape. About the most uninspired, repetitive riff one could come up with. Would be proud if my non-existent 10 year old kid wrote this, but otherwise...?  Stiff and lifeless, never-ending, and chocked full of cowbell. 

Send In the Suicide Squad- 3 A mid-tempo soft rocker that takes its time to unfold. Pollard does a nice job bellowing about, nearly turning this song into something much more memorable than it deserves to be. Unlike the last two tracks, a tidy 2 minutes of near joy.

Blurring the Contacts- Sluggish downer song feels like boulder upon the brain. On pure mood alone, I tip my cap, but there's little here to hang said cap on. Kevin March pounds away at his mighty toms. The band trudges along as Pollard does some mild tuneful speaking. Another middle-of-the-road Circus Devils' song that got away and found its way onto a GBV record. 

Your Lights Are Out- 4 Creepy, tuneful, destitute, rocking. Yup, that sums it up! Simple yet twisted guitar lead stands as the center piece. Pollard's hollow vocal yelps fit snuggly in the percussive stabs throughout the song. Mid-way through, the icy track manages to pick up steam, as hooks abound in coy fashion.  The only downfall; at nearly 3 and a half minutes, the song could've benefited from a shave. 

Windshield Wiper Rex- Unfortunately there is now a GBV song called "Windshield Wiper Rex." Luckily the song has some some life to it, and nearly has a hook, but again, Pollard never brings the hammer down throughout the first section. The mid-section shows a bit of sunshine, and dips its toe into classic GBV hooks, but never quite commits. 

Holy Rhythm- 3 Damn, Kevin March REALLY gets to pound the shit out of his toms on this bleak record, don't he? Another mood track, that picks up into mid-tempo rocker, that eerily marches on to the end. Continuously pulse pounding, as Pollard stands vocally strong to the finish line. 



SIDE B:
Jack Tell- What should be a one minute gap track turns into an unnecessary multifaceted slog. The first part of this song is a near perfect GBV snippet of a tune accented by a soaring Pollard. The band eventually kicks in at the 2 minute mark, Pollard living out more arena rock fantasies about being in The Who, as the tune goes nowhere.

Bellicose Starling- 3 A sterile ballad of sorts, mildly saved by the "that's what you are" chorus.  Grows more engaging with repeated listens. Reminiscent of a forgettable track on a mid-00's Pollard solo record, the song is saved by Gillard's string arrangements, which breathes some fresh air into a track that nearly feels dead on arrival. 

Wrong Turn On- What kind of title is this? Actually, what kind of titles are any of these? Seriously this record may take the cake for having the worst collection of GBV titles of all time. "Jack Tell?" "Vertiginous Raft?" The fuck? Oh, yes. The song! Some spring in the step here that ultimately gets wasted by Pollard's unmemorable chorus. Seemingly tries for a monumental ending of double vocals, but remains drab for the course. 

Charmless Peters- 4  "Charmless?" Somewhat. Luckily, this downer of a tune is fleshed out, and gets stronger as it unfolds. Even though it drags on too long, lacks much power, and is about a half dozen hooks short of a minimally supplied tackle box, the song is somehow redeeming. A slow grower for sure, but manages to rise as a surprising epic amongst the drab skies. Sure to be a killer live staple. 

The Rally Boys- Oh praise the LORD! "The Rally Boys," saves us all from the cold pit of sludge that is LP 1. Okay, too harsh? A strong dose of pep to this, as March drives it home with solid downbeats. Then, the jubilee of a chorus kicks in. The strings are enough to induce a tear. The harmonies, layered vocals; this is a sheer moment of pop triumph. Enough to make you raise your fist, revisit, rejoice. One of Pollard's best moments. "The Rand McNally Boys!" And all under two minutes! 

Think. Be a Man- Well that was fun while it lasted. Completely aimless, tuneless, Pollard speak-singing and stumbling his way through. Again, the drums stomp on in this minor key'd landfill of directionless chords and word soup. Feels like the bastard tune that got away from "Substitute 11" off August By Cake or "How To Murder A Man (In 3 Acts)" off How Do You Spell Heaven, but crummier. 

Jam Warsong3 An idiotic riff repeated through the entire song, as drum machine keeps time. So mindless, it almost becomes fascinatingly hypnotic. Possibly well suited for a GBV EP of "wacky" ideas, but just another track on this double LP. This one grows on you, more in a groove way than any actual memorable song. Frankly, I hate that I like this song. 

You Own the Night- Originally released as the first single, and side A of 7'' of same name. "You Own the Night" is another rare example of the whole unit giving a shit, and coming out with shining results. The chorus (complete with downbeat propulsion, strings, and raging harmonies), resembles a slightly less triumphant "The Rally Boys," from a few tracks earlier. Frustratingly, the song is nearly killed by the pointless one minute of uninteresting guitar fuckery in the middle. 


SIDE C:
Everything's Thrilling- Alright! Dig that guitar chug. This song's going places. Any minute, the band's gonna kick in, and Pollard is going to launch this second LP into the stratosphere with a fucking banger. Any minute... oh shit. Yup, this is just Pollard chugging away on an electric guitar, by himself, singing a melody-absent, harmony-less tune for far too long. 

Nice About You- 1 Creepy, creeping, creeper of a song. Cold, cold song that meanders rather dimly about. No real purpose here; a two minute gap-track. At the minute and half mark, the song flops into a sudden pulse as Pollard hollers the word "NICE" repeatedly. No thanks. 

Einstein's Angel4 One of the rare classic GBV sounding titles of the record. Nearly a classic GBV sounding song too, in some fashion! A minor detractor, the whole song still feels utterly sterile, glossed over by clean production and brittle guitar tones. Pollard delivers a melody decent enough (with solid call-and-response harmonies to boot), complete with trustworthy Gillard guitar leads. Feels like a damn diamond in the rough when held against the first few tracks of this second LP. 

The Hearing Department- So very cold, so painfully slow, that over a couple listens the song becomes morbidly alluring; like rolling down your car window in the dead of night during a 10 below zero, January evening. Oh wait, I did that! Even if listened to in summer, you can possibly see your breath in the dark while listening. Between the production, the wonderfully subdued vocal delivery from Pollard, and the Gillard string arrangements this becomes an icy ride through the darkness that's worth taking.

Questions Of the Test- This song is nearly catchy, until one realizes it's just plain stupid. Then, you realize it's not even catchy at all. If Pollard was replaced by John Flansburgh, I might find this a fairly forgettable They Might Be Giants throw-away. As a Guided by Voices song, it's grating. The psych-rock interludes fail to save it. However, the ending DOES nearly save it. Damn. 

No Point- 1 "There is no point, in fixing. It's out of your hands." Fucking NAILED IT. 

Lurk of the Worm- A song that almost tricks you into thinking it rules. It's like Pollard tried his hand at composing a Zappa-light tune; proggy on purpose. Many people will say after the 25th listen, they "got" this song. It nearly rules at spots, and there's some notable crunch amongst the guitar pedal/synth fuck-a-thon. At the 2:30 mark, the song stops and kicks back in with a tacked on 20 second ROCKING ending (for no fucking purpose at all), that you soon wish was the crux of the  song the entire time. On a brighter note; Gillard and March shine on this!

Zeppelin Over China- 40 seconds of acoustic nonsense as keys rattle against the hollow body of the guitar. Then someone laughs. Some people talk. Then someone yells "Yeah!" Cool, ZOC also contains recordings that should be on Suitcase 5 or an Acid Ranch LP



SIDE D:
Where Have You Been All My Life- Compared to most of the ZOC tracks, this song sounds like practical speed metal! A tight-wound, guitar chugger that barrels ahead. What feels like it should be late LP payoff instead unfolds stiff as a board. Pollard adds lifeless, monotone vocals to the soulless guitar changes. On the choruses, it's as if Pollard abandons the instinctual and familiar melodic style for out-of-tune vocal straining, as if not to plagiarize himself from yesteryear. You'll find yourself humming this, like an idiotic nursery rhyme, or children's song that makes you want hit yourself over the head with shovel. 

Cold Cold Hands- "Cold." The centerpiece theme of the entire record. The doubled vocals add much needed life to this mid-tempo stomp. A mild melody, with a very strong vocal showing bring something of note to this short, harmless track. After a few listens, this becomes a late LP winner. This one creeps into your brain, and sounds like it could be a killer when played live. Reminds me of a lost track from How Do You Spell Heaven. Gillard shows some late song flair with guitar heroics. 

Transpiring Anathema- 1 When Pollard comes in with his off-time, drunk uncle delivery of "I've got news for you.... PUNK..." I want to die a little more each time I hear it. Is this supposed to be funny? Was this the last idea he needed to squeeze out before sent to the pressing plant. Pollard's (mostly) singular vocal take does little over this run-of-the-mill arrangement of chords. The Harold Pig Memorial called and wants its outtake back. 

We Can Make Music- 4 Too sentimental for its own good? Possibly. But Pollard weaves some late LP magic. The band, and Travis Harrison handle this well, budding from the seams with added synths, strings, and acoustic guitar accents. Pollard sounds like a delicate old man on this, warbled, haggard, pleading for beauty. The title makes me want to vomit, but the hooks and build up make me want to weep. 

Cobbler Ditches- 2 Some of the dumbest lyrics Pollard has ever committed to tape. Super fans will post online about how much they like it because Pollard says "Motor Away" in it. He also says "Candy bar no one" and "Candy by credit card." 

Enough Is Never At the End- If you like "Sad Baby Eyes" then you're gonna love "Enough Is Never At the End." Luckily,  unlike the former, this song drags along enough old man, drunken sentiment and sincere sentimentality to stand on its own wobbly legs in a weirdly touching moment in the catalog. 

My Future In Barcelona- 4 The first track to premier online for the record, "My Future In Barcelona" is wholly familiar GBV comfort food stretched out into a somewhat breezy (nearly) 4 minutes! The song rides an above average fuzzy feeling throughout. It never dazzles, it doesn't surprise. The band rides an average verse into an average chorus repeatedly that adds up to a song you'll find yourself humming through the rest of your days. One of the tracks where it feels like the whole band comes together in this would-be arena anthem. 

Vertiginous Raft- 4 Somber, guitar chug-heavy shanty rocks us out. Hazy, fuzzed out. Pollard triumphantly sounds off in this minute plus salute, bolstered by a much appreciated string section. Brief, but totally redemptive in its pomposity. As the final note on piano rings out, may you drift out into the abyss on your proverbial raft, vertigo be damned. 

















Monday, January 28, 2019

100 Dougs (2018)

100 DOUGS
(2018, Guided by Voices Inc.)


Welcome to the first round of the newest Pollard and gang EPs; a sordid collection of tracks.  On December 7, 2018 GBV dropped the first two of four announced EPs: Wine Cork Stonehenge and 100 Dougs. According to the band, these tracks were made on the fly, trying to capture some of that mid-90s magic with the current line-up. No thoughts, whether too big or small, were kept out of these recordings, it seems.

Sure enough, keeping in the spirit of the traditional GBV EP, both releases are loose and more off-the cuff than their the last couple LPs (although nowhere near as loose as 2013's disappointing Down By the Racetrack EP). Unlike some of the stone-cold classic GBV EPs of the '90s, these songs are presented in a higher fidelity, fleshed out, although warped in their own way. Speaking of "WARPED," Pollard has said in late 2018, all four EPs would see release as the Warp and Woof LP in 2019. Yes, all 24 tracks from the four 7" EPs would be collected onto one LP, with different track order and title. Get your wallets ready kids!

All EPs in this collection are limited to 1000 7'' copies on black vinyl.

Stay tuned as I post these, and then repost them later in 2019, under the title Warp and Woof. Oh Lord.


SIDE A:
Bury The Mouse- 4 Some attitude-laced riffage that tows the line between parody and serious GBV rocker. Almost laughable at points, but somewhat cool? Pollard's vocals sit perfectly atop this distorted thunderstruck chug. Devotees will say they love it because Pollard references Same Place The Fly Got Smashed in his lyrics, and some fans eat that shit up! 

Coming Back From Now On- Pollard announces the track over more screaming fans sound effects, similarly to that heard on "The Stars Behind Us." The song awkwardly transitions between mind-numbing rock tune and near high-kick territory. Unfortunately, Pollard's melodies are DOA throughout. 

Foreign Deputies- Haunting guitar and vocal track. Sounds as if Pollard sits alone in a dark room, contemplation into unconsciousness taking place. Chilling, minute long track that gets better with every spin. 


SIDE B:
Cohesive Scoops- 4 One of the Internet exclusive tracks first released to promote these EPs, "Cohesive Scoops" has all the makings of familiar GBV classic-in-the-making. A thin line keeps this "really good" tune from becoming a "great" one. Pollard's vocals, whether by production or unsteady single take performance, sound off kilter at times. The warbled harmonized lead out, though, comes together as trustworthy GBV gold. 

Out Of The Blue Race- 1 Constipated Bob is back! As if in the midst of drunken bowel troubles, Uncle Bob digs into his baritone moments for this lackluster guitar boner of a tune. 

It Will Never Be Simple- Doug Gillard gets front and center here, no vocals necessary (I guess?).  This 2 and a half minute instrumental track feels like an epic compared to some of these tunes over the course of the two EPs! If you're looking for an uptempo soundtrack for an '80s VHS educational video, you'll love this song. Baffling inclusion. 


Wine Cork Stonehenge (2018)

WINE CORK STONHENGE
(2018, Guided by Voices Inc.)


Welcome to the first round of the newest Pollard and gang EPs; a sordid collection of tracks.  On December 7, 2018 GBV dropped the first two of four announced EPs: Wine Cork Stonehenge and 100 Dougs. According to the band, these tracks were made on the fly, trying to capture some of that mid-90s magic with the current line-up. No thoughts, whether too big or small, were kept out of these recordings, it seems.

Sure enough, keeping in the spirit of the traditional GBV EP, both releases are loose and more off-the cuff than their the last couple LPs (although nowhere near as loose as 2013's disappointing Down By the Racetrack EP). Unlike some of the stone-cold classic GBV EPs of the '90s, these songs are presented in a higher fidelity, fleshed out, although warped in their own way. Speaking of "WARPED," Pollard has said in late 2018, all four EPs would see release as the Warp and Woof  LP in 2019. Yes, all 24 tracks from the four 7" EPs would be collected onto one LP, with different track order and title. Get your wallets ready kids!

All EPs in this collection are limited to 1000 7'' copies on black vinyl.

Stay tuned as I post these, and then repost them later in 2019, under the title Warp and Woof. Oh Lord.


SIDE A:
My Angel- 5 A quick, instant classic. This almost feels like cut and paste Pollard material, but one you're never too tired to revisit. So simplistic, so joyous. The hooks throughout are pure, almost coming off as too easy. Additionally, the guitar crunch on this is fantastic. Also, dig that auxiliary percussion! All at under a minute and a half. Now that's QUALITY GBV EP material. 

The Stars Behind Us- 4 More familiar territory for GBV. Feels like a mid-tempo, ho-hum riff we've heard a million times before, but never gets old. Gillard holds this together with some warbled guitar leads, all while the band plays in front of screaming fan sound effects, which is good for a laugh. The song does feel like it misses the opportunity to cash in on several killer hook moments, but the lead-out is a solid payoff. 

Skull Arrow- 1 One minute of chugging acoustic and lead guitar garbage. Pollard drops some lame rhyme schemes and calls it a day. A phoned-in track; one that sounds like some leftover Todd Tobias' solo recording from off of, say Standard Gargoyle Decisions


SIDE B:
Thimble Society- Repetitive, low budget industrial-prog guitar and drum backbone holds it down as Pollard lays down a nice, strong double vocal showing. When living on the odder side of life, this one begins to pay off with repeated listens. 

Tiny Apes- 4 Another tune just over a minute that jerks around for 28 seconds, sounding like a rickety surf rocker, before busting into a solid tune for 6 entire seconds. Pollard saves it somewhat with a strong ending in the vocal department. Case study in what happens when a dumb soundcheck riff gets turned into song! 

The Pipers, The Vipers, The Snakes!- Clunky mid-tempo closer that is more wholly familiar GBV territory. Solid harmonies throughout hold this one together. Musically; short on ideas, but rewarding after a few spins on the turntable.