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Guided by Voices
  • I like it! I just listened to Human Amusement at Hourly Rates this morning, and it made me really happy.

  • This is great!

  • when i saw them a few months ago they played tons of stuff from the upcoming record and it was all pretty great

  • My favorite thing about the song, apart from how catchy it is, is the use of the word “proportionate”. Stoked about the new record now!

  • … which, as it turns out, it really disappointing: the abovementioned song is the best one by a wide margin, and there’s more pointless tripe that you don’t want to listen more than once than usual: “Tree Fly Jet” in particular is absolutely horrible. Surprised at the burgeoning consensus that this is their best of the year.

  • I really like Class Clown Spots a UFO. It’s a real step up from Let’s Go Eat the Factory, which I find decent but disappointing.

  • Digging this new EP (Down By the Racetrack). It’s pretty clearly a deliberate throwback to those mid-90s 8-songs-on-a-7” affairs (even down to the cover art, which reminds me a lot of the 1997 split w/Cobra Verde), but I can definitely roll with that. Even the opening chords sound like the first bars of “Tractor Rape Chain”; “Amanda Gray” is one of those lovely Sprout soundscapes in search of an actual song that would tread water at 3 minutes but achieve wispy perfection at 45 seconds; “Copy Zero” is basically a lost Airport 5 track; and the title track must have come out of a soundcheck jam or something—I’m too lazy to fact-check this, but I suspect it’s the first ever Sprout/Mitchell shared songwriting credit. Definitely a fans-only affair (read: if you ain’t already drank the kool aid, this will not sweeten its taste for you any), but ten minutes of ramshackle glory for me.

  • Actually, on which: I was pretty delighted to see Mitch Mitchell get a solo songwriting credit for “The World’s Getting Smaller” on the b-side to “Everywhere is Miles from Everywhere.” I’ve always thought his band The Terrifying Experience deserved a little better—they’re not great, not by far, by they do have an infectious rawk-stomp that makes me cheer for them every time.

  • and one more thing:

    edison said: … which, as it turns out, it really disappointing: the abovementioned song is the best one by a wide margin, and there’s more pointless tripe that you don’t want to listen more than once than usual: “Tree Fly Jet” in particular is absolutely horrible. Surprised at the burgeoning consensus that this is their best of the year.

    I dunno, I couldn’t disagree more. Though Class Clown gets my vote for best, Bears is close behind it. I’ll grant you “Tree Fly Jet” is a grating nuisance, but I really like all the other fragments and micro-songs, and the more fully developed ones are real power-pop gems IMHO. Sprout in particular kills it on the album, and I also love how Pollard has been allotting himself one charmingly sappy acoustic jam per album, and “You Can Fly Anything Right” nails it here. “White Flag” is an odd choice to put out as a 7”, but still a good song. And I walk through the house singing the sha-la-las from “Up Instead of Running” to the cats many times a week.

  • We’ll just have to agree to disagree here, I guess, because my opinion hasn’t changed an inch; that said, I gave up on it a while ago, though, and will give it another spin soon to see if something clicks. Will check out the EP while I’m at it! Though I must admit to having a “wow, Whit is really more insane than I thought” moment when I read your year-end top-ten featuring all three GBV records, I cannot lie, I certainly missed your GBV-related updates here!

  • i rank the new albums thusly: 1. bears - “tree fly jet “is the only duff track for me. and even that can get into sometimes. “military school dance dismissal” one of my favorites. sprout’s strongest batch. “up instead of running!” 2. factory - weird and wonderful. i think their most beatlesque album (white album style). fats domino rules. 3. class clown - highest highs (title track! billy wire!) but i overplayed it and got burnt out. don’t like “hang up and try again.” “be impeccable” pretty awesome.

  • Oh, excellent—I had been meaning to post “where’s sashwap to get my back?” And yeah, I love “Military School Dance Dismissal” too—I find it emotionally affecting in an oblique way, which is something I think Pollard deserves more credit for in general than he gets. The guy’s songs are rarely direct in their affect, but that makes them all the more unsettlingly effective, at times.

    On another note: A while back, I noticed that my copy of We’ve Moved, the second Psycho & the Birds album, had disappeared, probably (ironically enough, sigh) in a move. This is one of Pollard’s lesser—hell, least—side projects, which even I realize is saying something, but its absence nagged at me anyway. The other week M’s family had a medical emergency that left us stranded in a hospital waiting room in Red Bank, New Jersey—not, as far as I can tell, a very hip place. With time to kill, I went for a walk through downtown Red Bank, and came across a record store (can’t even recall the name), which turned out to be pretty splendid—the kind of place where the Byrds section is labeled “Byrds/Gene Clark.” They had an impressive GBV section, which included We’ve Moved on vinyl for ten bucks. So I finally got a new copy; can’t say it’s particularly great, though it does amble just over the “good” threshold, and “Enon Beach” is a decent tune. Mostly, it fills a psychological hole…though now I’ve also noticed that my Takeovers “Little Green Onion Man” EP is also missing, so, gah.

  • ADF said: Oh, excellent—I had been meaning to post “where’s sashwap to get my back?” And yeah, I love “Military School Dance Dismissal” too—I find it emotionally affecting in an oblique way, which is something I think Pollard deserves more credit for in general than he gets. The guy’s songs are rarely direct in their affect, but that makes them all the more unsettlingly effective, at times.

    I don’t see it mentioned that much, but “A Second Spurt of Growth” really hits that spot for me - such a fantastic song! (I like “Military School Dance Dismissal” as well, but wouldn’t quite put it in that league)

  • edison said:

    ADF said: Oh, excellent—I had been meaning to post “where’s sashwap to get my back?” And yeah, I love “Military School Dance Dismissal” too—I find it emotionally affecting in an oblique way, which is something I think Pollard deserves more credit for in general than he gets. The guy’s songs are rarely direct in their affect, but that makes them all the more unsettlingly effective, at times.

    I don’t see it mentioned that much, but “A Second Spurt of Growth” really hits that spot for me - such a fantastic song! (I like “Military School Dance Dismissal” as well, but wouldn’t quite put it in that league)

    was just listening to half smiles today, but didn’t make it to side 2. “second spurt of growth” is a good one for sure. another mysteriously emotional tune in that vein is “color coat drawing” off suitcase 2 (originally an isolation drills demo).

  • the five new A-sides are spectacular. “flunky minnows” and “islands” (the first tobin sprout-penned GBV single) would both fit seamlessly on under the bushes. “xeno pariah” is an instant classic, has some “echoes myron” in its DNA. “noble insect” is basically a new airport 5 track, it’s kinda weird on first listen, but insidiously catchy on subsequent plays. odd one out is “trash can full of nails,” but it’s a grower. seems like a typically absurdist pollard title until he throws out some intriguing lyrics that seem to be critical of religion. “and does your heaven come without the nails?”

    AWESOME

  • Where can one hear them?

  • digital versions aren’t out yet, i ordered the 7 inches here: http://thefactoryofrawessentials.com/guided_by_voices.html

    (they all ship at once even though they’re hitting stores throughout march and april)

  • I had mine sent to my work address, which is a bit regrettable, since now here I am staring longingly at 5 new GBV 7”s, when I have a class, then an endless and dull committee meeting, then an epic train ride across the state of New Jersey, and then probably cleaning up cat puke, all before I can crack open a beer and rock the hell out of them. This will be a long day.

  • though that being said, let’s face it, the cat puke can probably wait.

  • ADF said: though that being said, let’s face it, the cat puke can probably wait.

    the puke can wait.

  • first single from english little league.

  • Not bad at all, thanks! I dig the backing vocals.

  • I gotta admit, I haven’t fallen completely in love with the new singles—but to be sure, I also haven’t had time to fully absorb them (and after bashing my head against the interwebz trying to get the digital versions {cool on them for having downloads w/the 7”s—first time for that, I believe}, I realized only Flunky Minnows has been officially released, which I assume is why I can’t use my codes for the others). Probably, I will come around as I always do; I do quite dig the b-side “Jellypop Smiles,” which partakes of that elusive melancholy we were discussing above.

  • pollard’s most recent solo album, reviewed by andrew WK: http://thetalkhouse.com/reviews/view/andrew-w.k.-robert-pollard

    maybe the best review of anything ever?

  • What I especially appreciate about that is that I doubt Pollard himself thinks the album is worth the blurb. Sorta like when Eddie Vedder blurbed, IIRC, Lord of the Birdcage, and I had my doubts that he’d so much as heard it. But hey, whatever it takes. AWK has enthusiasm to spare, so might as well direct it here instead of at bronies.

    In other news, I finally caught up with one of the lost side projects I missed during my years in the wilderness of GBV apostasy, when I stopped following them between 1998 and 2002 or so. The Howling Wolf Orchestra s/t EP from 2000 is 15 minutes of thoroughly unnoteworthy tossed-off ephemera, but look, it took me a decade to make up for missing its initial limited run, so there’s an undeniable satisfaction in just having the damn thing here. At this point the Acid Ranch LPs—impossible to find at prices my conscience could bear—are virtually the only thing left larger than a 7” that I’m missing…I think. Surely I’m wrong.

    It was actually with that in mind that I delayed leaving the house today in order to hit refresh on the Rockathon home page repeatedly until I could place an advance order for the new Pollard side project Sunflower Logic EP—good thing, too, since they sold their entire run in short order.

  • got the sunflower logic EP today. definitely in the acid ranch/howling wolf orchestra vein, maybe a little catchier though. pretty good — i like that stuff. vinyl is worth it for the packaging.

  • another of the new GBV singles, “noble insect” is magnificent earworm

  • I suspect English Little League is gonna lose GBV some of that comeback-high goodwill they had amassed. It’s less tuneful than the other three recent albums, and more harsh, alienating, and insular; the second side ain’t far from a Circus Devils affair, with a bunch of fairly abrasive Pollard jams and then Tobin Sprout singing about Jesus. I mean, I like it, naturally, but it’s a less inviting—and, okay, just plain lesser—album. Maybe they’re trying to relive Vampire on Titus?

  • just got it today, but i had a nearly opposite reaction! getting a strong ‘96 vibe from stuff like “send to celeste” and “biographer seahorse.” thought it has the nicest mix of production styles too, and the sprout songs don’t stand out as much as they have been lately.

  • eh, i guess you’re right though that side 2 isn’t TOO poppy. good, though. “flunky minnows” is really fun, “taciturn caves” is catchy and weird, kind of isolation drills-esque (“pivotal film?”). the noisy jams are psychedelic and strange and i like ‘em.

    side one is hit-packed. overall, ELL sounded to me like the most cohesive set from the reformed GBV yet. that and the lack of really short throwaway tunes made me think it’d be pretty well received.

    i also picked up a cheap CD copy of lord of the birdcage, and was revisiting that one today as well. those solo albums make quite a contrast with the new GBV stuff. i don’t think one is better than the other, but the solo albums are definitely more accessible — there are no short snippets, or off-the-cuff experimentation. for the most part, they maintain a sustained style or tone throughout (even if that style is often “fractured”).

  • Four or five listens in, I am definitely on sashwap’s side regarding English Little League; this seems by far the most solid and cohesive reformed GBV album so far. There’s practically not one in the bunch I feel an urge to skip, which I definitely can’t say about the last two.

    Still no Half Smiles of the Decomposed, but encouraging, certainly!

  • Well, I don’t know, I mean, I do like ELL quite a bit, but I could do without some of the heavier/harsher stuff (Crybaby 4-Star Hotel, Taciturn Cave, etc). It does look like I was somewhat off about critical reception though, and that’s cool—the more GBV love, the better. And “W/Glass in Foot” is a GREAT closer. I don’t even think the ‘96-sound analysis is off. Maybe I’ve just begun to take them for granted again, oh no! All of the 7” a-sides have grown on me immensely, and the thing I walk around humming the most is, somewhat unexpectedly, “Japan, Japa-a-a-n.”

  • It’s not a very memorable song, granted, but I’ll take “Crybaby 4-Star Hotel”, for instance, over any of the “contractual tuneless 1’30 songs we’re putting in here because, hey, we’re supposed to” that are so numerous in, say, Let’s Go Eat The Factory! If only because the title is great…

    Also, I’m coming to the realization that I’m not much of a Tobin Sprout fan; his undeniable ear for melody easily saves many of his songs for me thankfully, but I really wish his lyrics weren’t so corny and his vocals so saccharine.

  • new song round-up!

    teenage guitar - “atlantic cod” https://soundcloud.com/coffeebagel/teenage-guitar-atlantic-cod/s-P4mIA

    robert pollard - “i killed a man who looks like you” https://soundcloud.com/coffeebagel/robert-pollard-i-killed-a-man

    both winners, i say.

  • I’m basically foaming at the mouth here because the two new Pollard records—proper solo LP and new side-project Teenage Guitar—just arrived and I am forcing myself not to play them until I accomplish at least something.

    Also I am such a dork that I spent ten bucks to get the empty box in order to turn his set of 2007 Happy Jack 7”s that I already have into a proper box set, with the horrid title Cock Blocking the Romantics. At least it came with download code for the b-sides, so I can sort of try to rationalize this to myself.

  • edison said: Also, I’m coming to the realization that I’m not much of a Tobin Sprout fan;

    also I’m gonna pretend I didn’t read that! Dude’s solo albums are often overly samey, his lyrics treacly, but still, he really writes some lovely tunes and brings a great soft counterpoint to the Pollardian rock in GBV. the thing I’d change most about him (other than his politics, siiiiiiiiigh) is the incessantly boring drumming across the entirely of his recorded output, I don’t know why he’s so wedded to the same dull beat for thirty years.

  • I’ve never heard a solo Tobin Sprount album. I do agree that he writes some lovely tunes, as I said, and I like many of them in the context of GBV, but I suspect I would have a hard time making it through thirty minutes of his songs in a row.

    Looking forward to your report on the new Pollard stuff!

  • I still stand behind Moonflower Plastic after having owned it for ages. Granted, the criticism of the drumming is valid (I think he played the drums and maybe everything else on that one, which would explain it) and on a related note, he could stand to vary the tempo a bit. Still a great album, though; the guy knows his way around a melody and songs such as Angels Hang Their Socks on the Moon show what he can do when has the time and the freedom to really develop a song.

  • Oh, agreed on all fronts—it’s shameful how overlooked some of his stuff is (I was gonna post a link to “Vertical Insect” from Let’s Welcome the Circus People, but it’s not on YouTube, WTF, internet?). And his albums are good, they’re just … really samey. Kinda like the films of the Dardenne brothers, they kinda flatten out into something of an undifferentiated mass once you’re one step removed from directly watching/listening.

    The two new records, well, they hearken back to mid-Fading Captain, I’d say. Honey Locust Honky Tonk I had thought was a full country album, so it was disconcerting to realize—immediately—that this is not the case. It doesn’t sound like Pollard put a ton of effort into this one, frankly.

    The Teenage Guitar LP, I like more. It’s as rough around the edges as you’d imagine a one-take-with-4-track album would be, but as with an artist like Jandek or Lil B there’s sometimes a thrill of hearing songwriting epiphanies take place in real time. “Postcard to Pinky” in particular has a haunting sadness to it that seems to emanate directly out of the ragged means of production.

  • i love when we have opposite reactions, ADF :)

    got my records today. HLHT struck me immediately as being really strong — even short tunes like “i need to drink” really grabbed me. “airs” is great. the opening song kills me with that acoustic intro/verse that turns into that crunchy chorus and those subtle backing vocals.

    i like the teenage guitar album too, can’t wait to dive into that a bit more. great lyrics. i can really get behind the unbridled experimentation that the home studio provides. the jandek reference is apt, especially because pollard is known for his “pop” side, but he does some neat stuff when he cuts loose and gets difficult. that said, there are def. some hits here — been humming “strangers for a better society” all day.

    loving the sprout commentary. he’s very underrated and he’d probably have gotten more credit for his solo work if he didn’t happen to be so closely associated with pollard, who’s a far more adventurous and rewarding songwriter. it’s a double-edged sword of course, because his GBV connection is probably what got him on matador for his first two (and greatest) records. but sprout is a damn solid songwriter on his own, and i’d like to think he would’ve made a name for himself anyway, without the GBV boost. still need to pick up a couple of his records.

  • shocking news here in that i’m already coming around on HLHT. “Her Eyes Play Tricks on the Camera,” especially.

    shit, i have to catch a plane, but i’m trying to squeeze in one last spin…

  • random tobin sprout thought: he’s got two live albums out that both function as pretty great best-of comps, and they fix the weak drumming of his studio stuff.

  • On the bleeding edge of GBV fandom, I picked up Mag Earwhig! and Under the Bushes, Under the Stars on vinyl at the local used record hut on the weekend.

  • that’s a great find, mag earwig is pretty hard to come by (i’m jealous!). and UTBUTS is definitely best heard on vinyl.

  • hey guys, salamander by doug gillard is an excellent album. over the last couple of months it’s worked its way into frequent rotation over here. i keep discovering new favorites.

  • I love the opening track to the Gillard album, it reminds me of early-70s John Oates at his best. Also, I’ve never gotten to the rest of the Gillard solo oeuvre but am half-drunk with access to ebay and nothing better to do OH SHIT

  • two new circus devils this halloween. one of them started as another project but is being released as a circus devils — it’s an inversion of the usual postal rock formula; instead of pollard adding vocals to instrumentals, he recorded acapella vocals first and the music was created around them. should be a crazy listen.

  • I’ll be honest, I’m not sure the world needs two new Circus Devils at once. Which is not to say I won’t preorder the hell out of them. It’s a sad and costly road we die-hards tread.

    But hasn’t Pollard more or less done that before with Psycho & the Birds? They weren’t strictly a cappella, but in my memory, they were improvised on acoustic guitar and vox, and then Tobias fleshed out the “songs” around them.

  • also this reminds me, I contributed to the Circus Devils movie on kickstarter, got the dvd of it months ago, and have yet to watch the damn thing. it looks kinda terrible, but i mean, surely not worse than the absolutely stupefying The Devil Went Home and Puked.