Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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cortez the killer
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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chuckrh wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:19 pm
cortez the killer wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:40 pm
For the four or five people paying attention, where to next? The Takeovers? Lifeguards? Ricked Wicky?
Ricked Wicky
Then I'm off and running
Aloof and cunning
You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
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chuckrh
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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cortez the killer wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:35 pm
chuckrh wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:19 pm
cortez the killer wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:40 pm
For the four or five people paying attention, where to next? The Takeovers? Lifeguards? Ricked Wicky?
Ricked Wicky
Then I'm off and running
Aloof and cunning
That Tobin Sprout show we were talking about is phenomenal. I want more!!!!!!

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cortez the killer
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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I Sell the Circus (2015)

As it was detailed in the Keep It in Motion (Act V) part of the GBV story, Pollard formed a new band in the immediate aftermath of ending the GBV classic lineup reunion. Ricked Wicky was one of the first band names Pollard had come up with as a teenager when he was creating pretend album covers for imaginary bands. In assembling his next band, Bob retained the services of GBV’s most recent drummer, Kevin March, to continue to play the role of Keith Moon. March was joined by longtime Pollard collaborator Todd Tobias (bass) and a Dayton-based musician/producer with whom Bob had not previously worked with, Nick Mitchell. With a new lineup solidified, Bob and the crew headed over to his new favorite studio, Cyberteknics in Dayton, Ohio, to record their debut album, I Sell the Circus. In typical Pollard fashion, only two of the LP’s fifteen songs make it past the three-minute mark. The release notes for the record and project are lengthy and very detailed:
The first thing the listener will notice about Ricked Wicky is that it is the most musically adept project Guided By Voices' mage Robert Pollard has undertaken in some time, at least since late period-GBV (Half-Smiles of the Decomposed, for instance), or even Boston Spaceships. "[Ricked Wicky] is a sophisticated arena rock band,” says Pollard, and I Sell the Circus offers in evidence a series of ball-peen hammers to the brain-pan (“Piss Face” with its James Gang-era slide guitar and the proto-punk stomp of "Intellectual Types,” for example) alongside more delicate, prog-tinged Frippery (“Cow-Headed Moon” features Court of the Crimson King-esque mellotron, while the acoustic guitar mastery displayed on “Even Today and Tomorrow” recalls the mellow-era ELP of “Lucky Man”).

Credit the players: bolstering the easy mastery of a dizzying array of songwriting forms one naturally expects (and receives) from Pollard are the impressive instrumental prowess of fellow Daytonian Nick Mitchell (“no blood relation to Mitch,” Pollard stresses), who can otherwise be found in near-weekly performance at Wings, an important Dayton sports bar; multi-instrumentalist and producer Todd Tobias; and “the worldly Kevin March,” (Pollard again) who does double duty these days in Guided By Voices. These guys can play, and on I Sell The Circus, they play the fuck out of the songs.

"The band named Ricked Wicky is significant in that it is the very first name I created for a non-existent band in my early teens," explains Pollard. Fourteen of its fifteen tracks were recorded at Cyberteknics in Dayton, a studio Pollard has come to use with increasing frequency due to its profusion of vintage analog gear. “Rotten Backboards” is as gorgeous and melancholic a tune as Pollard has ever written, and lyrically sounds a note of wistfulness that long-time fans will not find unfamiliar. “She can run, ’cause that’s what I did,” sings Pollard over a sublimely textured background of synth-strings, arpeggiated guitar, piano and clattery drums, and while it’s tempting to read real regret into the content (“rotten backboards” as a metaphor for the debris of the past), it’s always dangerous looking for autobiography in Pollard’s mostly-fictional constructions. And anyway, the misty wistfulness is cleared away immediately by the sharply propulsive prime-Who swagger of the next—and final—track “A Real Stab.” Which seems to be about needles, or the messengers of Oz, or paper bags. It’s one of the best songs on an album of standouts.

“Some may wish to refer to us as a ‘super group,’” says Pollard, tongue practically poking through his cheek, but as with a lot of the pronouncements made by The Oracle of Huffman Prairie, as no one has ever called him or ever will, he’s joking, but he’s not joking. Ricked Wicky may not be a super group as the term is too-commonly used, but there’s no real doubt they’re a super group.

Album release comes with a guitar pick sealed in the shrinkwrap that looks the same as the guitar pick image on the cover of the album.

Considering some of the negativity and skepticism surrounding Pollard’s decision to once again shelf his primary and best-known musical vehicle, it was important to Bob to make it clear that Ricked Wicky should not be viewed as a retreat back from the quality GBV had pumped out over the course of their three-year reformation. The energy and vibe were clearly trending in the wrong direction and Bob was intent on assembling a group of musicians that would best serve the songs he was churning out. For me, that is the biggest takeaway from the tone and size of the release notes for I Sell the Circus. The shake up proved to be effective, as Ricked Wicky really deliver the goods here. After a strong start, the album meanders a bit in the middle before picking up steam again on the back end. The band leans heavily on the garage/power pop side of the equation and do a wonderful job bringing life to Pollard’s latest batch of original rock and roll. Their sound isn’t dissimilar to GBV or Boston Spaceships, but I think the musicianship, from a proficiency perspective, is some of the best to ever back Bob. The one band that I will concede has a leg up in that department is the post-classic GBV lineup that began with Mag Earwhig! and concluded with Half Smiles of the Decomposed. Those who were crushed that Bob had once again dissolved GBV would have their faith restored with I Sell the Circus.

1. Well Suited – Excellent way to kick off the record and for the new band to announce its presence. Hooks sprinkled throughout. March is such a powerful drummer and supplies so much punch to Bob’s songs. He and Todd Tobias are a strong rhythm section. The band’s harmonizing “La-la’s” during the outro are fantastic. Another garage/power pop classic to add to the expanding Pollard canon. “It's a blue suit morning, gimme some open battle space.” (10)
2. Death Metal Kid – Song starts off as a sluggish, slow grinder. Starts to pick up a bit but never really achieves liftoff for me. “When you're hardware you hardly wear out.” (6)
3. Guts – Early 60s-styled garage rocker picks the energy up a tick. This is a no-nonsense, lean track, reminiscent of some of those classic GBV nuggets of the 90s, with Bob supplying some of his surrealist poetry. “Royal cocks of blood and fist, busy boys with guts.” (7)
4. Cow Headed Moon – The album takes a stylistic detour here. A vintage-sounding organ and some delicate strings bring us more into the prog world of one of Pollard’s music heroes, Robert Fripp. “She can crawl on her hands and her knees with her eyes and will open my window.” (6)
5. Piss Face – After showing some restraint and dexterity on the previous track, the band changes course again with this ballsy, swagger rocker. Rhythm section adds some wonderful low end and Nick Mitchell provides some excellent lead guitar. Pollard with an inspired vocal performance on this arena rock stomper. “Proud head, full of epic noise.” (9)
6. Even Today and Tomorrow – Coming on the heels of the massive “Piss Face,” this acoustic song is a bit of a buzz kill. Some very proficient guitar work from Mitchell can’t elevate this one for me. “Is it just air breaking the nipple?” (5)
7. The Intellectual Types – Pollard hands the microphone over to Nick Mitchell for this song. I can’t say I’m a big fan of his vocals. It seems like a bit of a forced British punk snarl. All in all this comes off as a half-hearted attempt at proto punk. “Drink with the funniest man in the world.” (4)
8. Uranus Flies – Another cleverly-titled Pollard song for this GBV-like garage/pop nugget, featuring those signature stop-and-start dynamics. A strong melodic vocal from Bob helps this one get going, particularly on the anthemic, fist-pumping chorus during the outro. Pollard is the master at adding those hooks to elevate his songs. “I've dreaded this Grand Extravaganza.” (7.5)
9. The Important Girl – A breezier affair than most of the tracks that make up this record. It’s a pleasant enough song, but feels like it’s missing something. “How can she do you cloaked in astral light?” (5.5)
10. Frenzy of Blame – We get a fade in on this classic-sounding, mid-90s GBV type of track. Love how those guitars ring. Hard not to bob your head along here. Hook-filled chorus, with Bob doing some call and response to himself. “Lights on - lights off - lights on, it's you - you're the one.” (8)
11. Mobility – The lead single for the album is an absolute beast. Ringmaster Bob raises this to another level with a swagger-filled vocal performance. Rattling bass, thunderous drums and some great guitar work from Nick. This ranks among Pollard’s finest tracks, period. “I sell the circus. I make the posters. I skim the profits. I spin the tops.” (11)
12. Tomorrow – Kind of a reprise of “Even Today and Tomorrow.” In fact, it’s just the instrumental version of that song. Not sure why Bob felt the need to include an instrumental version of one of the weaker songs on the album. (3)
13. Miles of Concentration – If you told me this was a GBV reunion era track, I’d believe you 100%. A bleed-into-the-red, sub-two-minute rocker that sounds like a Motivational Jumpsuit outtake. Love the loose lyrical connection to the Bee Thousand classic song, “Gold Star for Robot Boy.” “Super fantastic and a gold star baby for you.” (8)
14. Rotten Backboards – This grower is the sleeper track of the album. Dripping with melancholy, this brings to mind some of the more somber tracks on Isolation Drills. Some great lyrics here, too. “She can run, ’cause that’s what I did.” (8)
15. A Real Stab – The closer is the longest song on the LP, clocking in at 3:34. Bob and the band channel The Who on this fabulous arena rocker. March goes ham on the kit and adds some serious thunder to the track. Nick uncorks a tasty guitar solo to close this high-energy rocker. Long live Ricked Wicky! “I am the unknown like the Messengers of Oz.” (10)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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"Piss Face" live @ The Independent San Francisco, CA 8/22/16
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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"Mobility" live @ Summit Music Hall April 30, 2016
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Unofficial, fan-made music video for “A Real Stab”
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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King Heavy Metal (2015)

Five months after their debut album, Ricked Wicky released their second LP of 2015. Recorded at Nick Mitchell’s home studio, Any Road Studio, King Heavy Metal brings a much different vibe to the table than its predecessor, I Sell the Circus. It is more experimental and follows more stylistic detours than the debut record did. Nick Mitchell provides a pair of original tracks (“Imminent Fall from Grace” & “Weekend Worriers”) and longtime Pollard collaborator, Todd Tobias, gets co-writing credits on two songs (“Ogling Blarest” & “Walk Through Glass”). While Pollard’s presence looms large over the album, there is much more of a collaborative band feel on King Heavy Metal. The release notes for the second Ricked Wicky LP are as follows:
King Heavy Metal, the second release from Robert Pollard's self-described "supergroup" (tongue practically piercing his cheek with self-deprecating irony), is a hitherto undiscovered species of rainforest songbird capable of changing colors in the ultraviolet and infrared spectrums. At once prog-struck, collagist, technically impressive and melodically complex, King Heavy Metal lives up to and subverts its title over the course of its twelve songs. There's stuff on here that wouldn't be out of place on any post-Isolation Drills Guided By Voices album, stuff that wouldn't be out of place on an alternate-universe mid-'70s Who album, and stuff that's as lo-fi, booze-addled and sloppy as anything from "classic"-era GBV.

Pollard's determined to establish Ricked Wicky as more than just another solo or side project: it's a proper, self-contained group with significant contributions, both instrumental and songwriting, from guitarist Nick Mitchell (long time GBV / Pollard stalwart Kevin March supplies drums). Mitchell sings lead on two songs here, both presumably written by him as well: "Imminent Fall From Grace" and "Weekend Worriers." The latter is a kind of "A Salty Salute" update, with Pollard taking the anthemic first chorus, but Mitchell handling the rest of the vocals. Stranger, but in some ways more interesting, is Mitchell's other contribution. "Imminent Fall From Grace" contains probably the most straightforward, earnest lyrics ever associated with a Pollard record—and yet, bizarrely, the song fits, and fits well, with the sort of no-fucks-given experimentation on display throughout King Heavy Metal.
While I give Bob and the band credit for mixing things up from a stylistic standpoint, King Heavy Metal is a bit less consistent and thrilling than I Sell the Circus. It is still a great listen, but I think it strays a bit from the formula that made that first record such a strong one. Still, it is incredible that the band was able to release such a solid record a mere five months after their debut. And they weren’t done releasing albums in 2015. As soon as King Heavy Metal saw its official release, the third Ricked Wicky LP of 2015, Swimmer to a Liquid Armchair, was already in the can.

1. Jargon of Clones – Album opens with a song that once again brings to mind mid-to-late 90s GBV. A melancholic, garage/power pop song with Bob’s signature faux British accent melodic lyrics. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “I know them, that's a joke. Have you trusted in them?” (9)
2. Come into My Wig Shop – No GBV or Boston Spaceships vibe on this track. Sounds a bit like “Animal Motel” off the 2005 Circus Devils album, Five. According to Nick Mitchell, “That riff is one of the first things I ever wrote, back in 1984... it was in reaction to discovering Soft Machine and King Crimson as a teenager. I was doing a 4-track "suite of shit" (it was truly awful) and that was one of the riffs that I came up with… The "that would be nice" refrain was an unused version of that from the sessions with Todd for Space City Kicks, it's an extended 3 part harmony that didn't get used on the album.” This track makes it clear that Ricked Wicky had little intention of making I Sell the Circus II. “You're talking too much, honey.” (5)
3. Imminent Fall from Grace – Song originally appeared as the B-side to the “Mobility” 7’’. Nick’s vocals remind me a bit of Geddy Lee. Has a generic 70s arena rock sound with some strings added to the mix. Don’t love it. Don’t hate it. “Your lie will have to end.” (5)
4. Too Strong for No One to See You – Much more subdued track that features a French horn solo. Some great weary vocals supplied by Bob on this melancholic, acoustic song. More arrows to be discovered in the Ricked Wicky quiver. “You cradle your sense of unwavering conviction when you're posing as a question.” (7)
5. This Has Been My Picture – This proggy track is the longest song on the record (5:43). Recycled riff of "Look at Them" off 1996's Under the Bushes Under the Stars. Several different styles and arrangements utilized here. Has some acoustic guitar, sparse piano, cheesy synth, Sabbath-like heavy riffs and soaring choruses. It sounds like a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess. One of my favorite songs on the album. “Is it real? This appears to be so.” (8)
6. Ogling Blarest – Speaking of Sabbath, Ricked Wicky take a stab at metal, with a dash of psych, on the side one closer. Bob provides some possessed-sounding lyrics on this track that would’ve fit in well on Circus Devils’ When Machines Attack. “Ecumenical pigs at dusk for all the monarchs transparent plus.” (7)
7. Tomfoole Terrific – Song opens with someone scanning the radio dial at warp speed. From there, Ricked Wicky unleashes another garage power pop rocker, realigning with those GBV/Boston Spaceship comparisons that followed the release of I Sell the Circus. Great fist-pumping arena rocker with some great guitar work courtesy of Nick Mitchell that is well suited for a rock show. “King Heavy Metal, foot through the pedal.” (8)
8. Earth Among Men – Another song that wouldn’t have been out of place on the 2013 Circus Devils album When Machines Attack. All sorts of synth blasts, sound effects and some muddy production are the hallmarks of this track. “A turn of dramatic appearance, according to the war on proof and a roof above our hearts.” (6)
9. Weekend Worriers – Nick Mitchell pens a fist-pumping, beery anthem for the “A Salty Salute” crowd. Pollard provides some harmonizing vocals on the chorus. Nick’s best contribution to Ricked Wicky. “Tonight we drink for Monday we shall cry.” (7)
10. Walk Through Glass – Another more subdued track that brings to mind some of the quieter songs on Circus Devils albums. Todd Tobias with the co-writing credit, so the Circus Devils connection makes sense. Good blend of piano, synth and electric guitar that builds as the song progresses. Another strong vocal performance from Bob. “Puzzled like an insect, you try to walk through glass.” (6.5)
11. I’ll Let You In – The band delivers yet another track that transports the listener back to those early days of GBV. Stop-and-start dynamics, churning guitars, March’s powerful drumming and cymbal crashes and some great, weaving guitar lines from Nick Mitchell. Raise those Miller Lites and pump your fists. “You'd better be back then to clean my hospital.” (8)
12. Map and Key – The opening with its cast of characters drunkenly chanting makes you think of “Harrison Adams” off the 2003 solo Pollard record, Motel of Fools. The listener is rewarded with the second experience of Bob and Nick harmonizing. Starts off as a breezy sing-a-long before Nick Mitchell ups the ante by laying down a snarling, two-minute guitar solo to close things out. The second Ricked Wicky album that adheres to the classic Pollardian powerhouse opener and closer sequencing magic. “If you haven't picked up, if you haven't put down your best foot to and back, then I'll let you see the map and key.” (9)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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"Jargon of Clones" live @ The Independent in San Francisco, 8/23/16.
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Unofficial, fan-made music video for "This Has Been My Picture"
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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"Map and Key" Live @ The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS on 5-2-2016
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Swimmer to a Liquid Armchair (2015)

As was the case with Boston Spaceships, Pollard definitely adheres to the “strike while the iron is hot” philosophy. Ricked Wicky return with their third LP of 2015 and their third in nine months. The scariest part is that they are all good to excellent records. And, for my money, the band saved their best for last, with a consistent, tight batch of a dozen originals that clocks in at a perfect 30:38. After recording King Heavy Metal at Nick Mitchell’s home studio, the band headed back to Cyberteknics and took advantage of its warm analog sound for Swimmer to a Liquid Armchair. The sound here aligns more with I Sell the Circus, with more of an allegiance to Boston Spaceships than Guided By Voices. Swimmer is certainly proggier than Circus, making it more of what I suppose you could call garage prog rock. The two songs Nick contributes here are his best Ricked Wicky compositions and Bob continues his steady and strong output on the other ten tracks. As was the case with the previous two Ricked Wicky album release notes, they do not disappoint in their witty verbosity:
Dayton, Ohio-based supergroup Ricked Wicky pulls off a rarely ventured and even more rarely gained three-peat with its third album—all recorded and released in the span of a year—Swimmer to a Liquid Armchair. The quartet, led by Robert Pollard and seconded mostly by multi-instrumentalist Nick Mitchell, with assists from Kevin March on drums and Todd Tobias on bass, have amped Pollard’s already wildly prolific output to Jason-Statham-in-Crank-2 levels. Swimmer serves up the same gleefully messy prog / punk / pop stew as on the previous two Ricked Wicky releases, but there’s a growing sense of assurance evident on the newest record that indicates Big Things for the future.

We draw your attention in particular to "Poor Substitute," as straightforward a song as Pollard has ever written, emotionally charged, melancholy, executed with rough vigor by the band and sung with unaffected mastery. Contrast this with the following song, which showcases Mitchell’s more polished songwriting approach (and abundant guitar chops) and his vibrant, albeit less elastic, tenor voice. If Guided By Voices, Pollard’s other other band, often bear comparison to the Beatles, Ricked Wicky on occasion calls to mind a kind of lo-fi Blue Öyster Cult, with a touch of early Queen (Mitchell’s slide work on "The Blind Side" recalls Brian May). Those accustomed to more standard Pollardian fare will find plenty to chew on here: the virtuosic wordplay on album opener "What Are All Those Paint Men Digging," the thumping thug-rock of "Red-Legged Pygmalion," the epic sweep (in three minutes) of "Simple Simon Paper Plates," for starters.

But if Pollard seems determined to establish Ricked Wicky as more than just another in a numberless series of side projects—as an actual thing-in-itself as fully realized as anything he’s ever dreamed up in his rock-crystal bowl—he’s nonetheless never more himself than when testing his own limits. By welcoming different voices and different approaches to both playing and songwriting, by framing Ricked Wicky as a collaboration of equals, he establishes more than ever that he has very few. Put that in your e-pipe and vape it, kids.
Shortly after the record dropped, Pollard brought back the GBV moniker and hit the road with March, Mitchell and two newcomers – Bobby Bare Jr. (guitar) and Mark Shue (bass). Ricked Wicky was essentially Guided By Voices without calling it Guided By Voices until it was time to hit the road. Once that happened, half of Ricked Wicky became GBV and Pollard kept it in motion until making one more abrupt lineup change in the summer of 2016, replacing Mitchell with old stalwart, Doug Gillard. That lineup had held firm for four plus years now, but Ricked Wicky was an excellent, necessary detour in the musical journey of Robert Pollard.

1. What Are All Those Paint Men Digging? – The album’s prog leanings on full display on this powerhouse opener. Starts out as a wobbly, swaying acoustic song before morphing into a snarling rocker. Moves back to that acoustic zone before another shift to the bombastic conclusion. Kevin March brings the thunder. “Hands, feet and motor skills, Egyptians to complete.” (10)
2. Crystal Titanic – The prog influence remains on the following track that also features some abrupt changes to the style and structure of the song. Bridge features a neat little string arrangement before ramping it up again to another thunderous finish. “Why do you stare into the sea?” (8)
3. Poor Substitute – The lead single for the record is another Pollard garage/power pop essential track. Absolutely love the production and the sound achieved here. Shades of that early Who power pop sound here. It’s a toss-up between this and “Mobility” for the greatest Ricked Wicky song. “Trust me though I'll never have the Midas touch. A cloud with silver lining isn't quite as much.” (11)
4. Blind Slide – The first of two Nick Mitchell songs sounds like an Alice Cooper/Geddy Lee hybrid lead singer fronting Cheap Trick. A couple of searing guitar lines to cut through the monstrous drumming of March. “Everybody's guilty of shading their mind from a fact.” (6.5)
5. A Number I Can Trust – This was the second single selected from the LP. Another proggy garage rocker with some quiet-loud dynamics at play. Again, March is just hammering away at the kit. Some great harmonizing during the chorus. This one just relentlessly comes at you once it kicks into gear. “Time's new baby boy…” (9)
6. Simple Simon Paper Plates – A heavy, moody track that would’ve fit in very well on either the excellent Moses on a Snail solo Pollard record or GBV’s Earthquake Glue. Another one where I just love the production and sound achieved. Some excellent guitar work courtesy of Nick Mitchell. The only track on the record that surpasses the three-minute mark. “On paper plates, with egg on face.” (9)
7. Red-Legged Pygmalion – Side two comes barreling out of the gate with this riff-heavy arena rocker. There are no soft-hard dynamics at play on this track. Just foot-to-the-pedal rock and roll. “And one eye hurts, the only one…” (7.5)
8. No Man Would Develop – Song punctuated by several stop-and-start theatrics. Closer in spirit and vibe to King Heavy Metal than most of the material on the record. March just going crazy again. “Suffer your misguidance, no one else knows better.” (7)
9. Plastic Oceanic Getaway – Nick’s best contribution to Ricked Wickey is a dead ringer for early Rush. I’ve been lukewarm on the songs he’s contributed to this point, but this one is a winner. Great lyrics, vocals, drumming and arrangement. Well done, Nick! “Must get back to earning, hollowed be thy bank. Plastic oceanic getaway.” (9)
10. The Box (Including “The Curse”) – The first minute and ten seconds of this track is a pounding, punk stomper. An abrupt transition takes places and the final thirty seconds or so sounds like Todd Tobias brought back those “monsters giving birth” backward loop effects of Circus Devils. Another song that has more of a King Heavy Metal feel to it. “Reach and find out. Perhaps it's real or maybe not.” (6)
11. Could I See the List One More Time? – The second song title on the album to feature a question mark. Pretty simple track from a lyrical perspective, but the type of lumbering arrangement recycled from many a GBV melancholic classic. Nick providing some great guitar fills. The Fading Captain applies his magic tough during the outro. “Trying out, you may see, it's not all you can be. A uniform of flesh and bone.” (7)
12. I Am a Coast Guard – The previous two Ricked Wicky albums concluded with fist-pumping anthems. On this one, it starts out sounding like everyone has left the studio for the evening and a weary Pollard is just winding down a long recording session by just playing around on his acoustic guitar. After a brief pause, Mitchell, Tobias and March come in to get those fists pumping with a spirited instrumental outro. “At the cremation, unique skulls are awarded style points.” (7)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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"What Are All Those Paint Men Digging?" live @ New York, NY - 7/9/16
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Unofficial, fan-made music video for "Crystal Titanic"
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Official music video for "Poor Substitute"
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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chuckrh wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:48 am
cortez the killer wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:35 pm
chuckrh wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:19 pm


Ricked Wicky
Then I'm off and running
Aloof and cunning
That Tobin Sprout show we were talking about is phenomenal. I want more!!!!!!
So I guess it's Airport 5 next.

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cortez the killer
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Tower in the Fountain of Sparks (2001)

It had been five years since Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout had worked together. As has been previously detailed, Pollard shook up the lineup for GBV following Under the Bushes Under the Stars in an effort to reach a wider audience and make higher fidelity records. Tobin retreated to Michigan where he dedicated more time to his visual arts career and his family. Now the Lennon and McCartney of the indie world were back together, this time in a postal arrangement. Tobin recorded all the instrumental parts at his Michigan home on a 4-track tape recorder and shipped them to Bob for him to add vocals. The result was Tower in the Fountain of Sparks, #13 in the Fading Captain Series. Bob named the side project after a highway sign near the Cleveland airport. It’s a lo-fi, mostly atmospheric record with some fabulous melancholic, melodic wizardry from Pollard. Even though Bob had made the jump to hi-fi with a revamped GBV lineup, this collaboration with his old friend/bandmate serves as a reminder that he is still a tour de force when it comes to crafting quality lo-fi recordings. Tower in the Fountain of Sparks holds up to most of the GBV catalog and is another strong addition to the Pollard discography.

1. Burns Carpenter, Man of Science – Album starts off on a bit of a dour note. Slow, low and simple riff loops throughout. Really dig the atmospheric vibe Tobin creates here. Bob with an impassioned vocal performance. Love the double-tracked, call-and-response chorus. “This kind of love will destroy the ozone.” (8)
2. Total Exposure – A rare song that goes longer than four minutes. Tobin cooks up an excellent, sparse acoustic track with a wonderfully melodic bass line. Another top-notch, melodic vocal performance, with Bob hamming up the fake British accent. Some more great double-tracking of Bob’s vocals during the choruses. “Listen to the way the children play as the day slips away.” (10)
3. Subatomic Rain – Moody, 80s-sounding song, influenced by British post-punk pioneers like Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen and The Sound. Not as big a fan of Bob’s vocal delivery on this track as the previous two. “We miss you back in Germany.” (5.5)
4. One More – Bob and Tobin get wild here. Tobin turns up the volume and tempo, with an arrangement that favors bite over gauzy atmospherics. Bob begins the track screaming and delivers a vocal performance with less nuance and more volume. “Out there in the wild universe, the open book, the baited hook.” (6)
5. Mission Experiences – After blowing it out a bit on the previous track, Tobin and Bob retreat back to the hazy, sparse atmospheric space they had been exploring on the previous few tracks. More of a snippet than a song, it abruptly comes to a conclusion a minute and a half in. “With liquid lamb eyes, the gaze of trial and error.” (5)
6. The Cost of Shipping Cattle – Tobin dials up the noise and volume as he starts off this track with some synth blasts and backward-looped guitars on his 4-track recorder. Bob going the spoken-word route on this left-of-center, atypically long (4:51) song. “Did he or did he not use shocking equipment to make you happy?” (6)
7. Circle of Trim – On the side one closer, we are rewarded with a jangly, lo-fi slice of heavenly pop magic. This is the type of song that Bob and Tobin rode to the top of the indie world in the mid 90s. Some great, off-kilter harmonies during the chorus. “Find a fine citizen in the circle of trim, whereby we dig the beauty.” (10)
8. War & Wedding – Another lo-fi acoustic track with a great melodic bass line that revisits the feel created on “Total Exposure.” Tobin working some organ into the intro before this gets going into that Sprout/Pollard wheelhouse zone. “I’m sweeping away the broken pieces, clearing space.” (8)
9. Stifled Man Casino – The “hit” of the album recreates the magic of what made those 90s GBV albums so special. Hooks all over the place as Tobin crafts another sparse guitar line paired with a jangly, melodic bass. Bob adds some fist-pumping, anthemic choruses. More expertly-utilized double-tracking of Bob’s vocals. It all comes together on this track. “No one gets the brakes, that’s the breaks, baby!” (11)
10. Up the Nails – Another track constructed similarly to “Total Exposure” and “War & Wedding.” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. More impassioned vocals from Bob. “How can you believe that patience brings reward?” (7.5)
11. Tomorrow You May Rise – Title of the album taken from one of the lines here. Riff bears a slight semblance to the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young protest anthem, “Ohio.” Barely cracks the minute mark before the Fading Captain steps in. “You are not lost in the present. Tomorrow you may rise.” (6)
12. Feathering Clueless (The Exotic Freebid) – Tobin creates such a hypnotic, addicting, looping riff and Bob fastens another incredible vocal melody to it. God, I love this song! First cousin to the wonderful “Unbaited Vicar of Scorched Earth” off the great Tonics and Twisted Chasers collection. Love the creamy, falsetto “ta-ta-ta's” Bob works into the chorus during the outro. “Would you even care? Or would you be aware of the weatherman?” (11)
13. Mansfield on the Sky – Very gloomy, grinding atmospheric song. Comes off as Tobin and Bob’s attempt at slowcore. This track definitely leaves you feeling cold and lonely. “Better go - oh, no! Better stay - hey, hey!” (5.5)
14. White Car Creek – Super reverb effect added on this solo, acoustic Tobin snippet. Pretty much impossible to make out what he is singing. Lasts a minute before it just gives out. “Spring is here now.” (5)
15. Remain Lodging (At Airport 5) – Another song that is kindred spirits with “Unbaited Vicar of Scorched Earth.” While it doesn’t reach the same heights as “Feathering Clueless (The Exotic Freebid),” this swirling, atmospheric, lo-fi dream pop serves as an excellent closer. “It’s how to be a drone in a hive of women.” (9)
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chuckrh
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

Post by chuckrh »

cortez the killer wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:09 pm
chuckrh wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:48 am
cortez the killer wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:35 pm

Then I'm off and running
Aloof and cunning
That Tobin Sprout show we were talking about is phenomenal. I want more!!!!!!
So I guess it's Airport 5 next.

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I really like Tobin's stuff & bought several of his records. His artwork is really cool, too. For me he's kind of George Harrison to Robert's Lennon/McCartney. Would love to see him play live with his band.

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Unofficial, fan-made music video for "Circle of Trim"
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Official music video for "Stifled Man Casino"
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Life Starts Here (2002)

The second, and final, album for the Pollard/Sprout side project, postal collaboration is also #18 in the Fading Captain Series. The duo successfully tapped into that past magic from the GBV glory days with Tower in the Fountain of Sparks, so it made perfect sense that they would keep it going. Unfortunately, Life Starts Here fails to replicate that magic. To my ears, this is a significant drop off from the previous record. My main gripe with the record is a combination of uninspired music arrangements from Sprout, along with what comes off as experimental for the sake of being experimental tracks. This is one of my least favorite Pollard-associated releases and a major disappointment coming off the heels of the very strong debut, Tower in the Fountain of Sparks. I imagine Bob and Tobin felt similarly, as Airport 5 was put to rest following this LP.

1. Intro – This sounds like Tobin listened to Ringworm Interiors and was trying to write his own version of Circus Devils-styled music. Gloomy piano with some uninspired Pollard vocals. “Together, birds of a feather. Ride them, the good ones - oh, yes!” (3)
2. We’re in the Business – Sounds like Bob’s singing is a bit off key on this track. Tobin ups the ante with more interesting music, but this one doesn’t really go anywhere for me. “The bell curve whiplash that no one's faking.” (4)
3. Yellow Wife No. 5 – This sounds like an outtake from Tower in the Fountain of Sparks. As is the case with several songs on that LP, Bob’s vocals are double-tracked. A step up from the previous two tracks, but feels like more of a demo/song concept than a fully-realized one. First in what will be a theme of the album, the chorus is repeated over and over. Solid song, none the less. “White crushed Americans need weird energy.” (6.5)
4. Wrong Drama Addiction – A very rare track in that it clocks in at an amazing (for Pollard) 7:25. “And life starts, and life starts, and life starts, here” is repeated throughout the majority of the track. Musically, it’s just one chord repeated over and over. The drum machine Tobin uses on most of his songs, becomes a little too noticeable (and annoying) on this track. I do dig the instrumental that appears out of nowhere during the final thirty-plus seconds of the track. Again, it sounds like Tobin and Bob were going for something a little more experimental here, but it ultimately misses the mark for me. “Fever hits like wide typhoon struck.” (3)
5. However Young They Are – Light and breezy song with some more organic percussion than the drum machine Sprout tends to favor. Sounds like something written for the closing credits of a documentary or some paid advertisement designed to get you to donate to some worthy cause. “Now we are clear-headed and able to see in the dark.” (5)
6. The Dawntrust Guarantee – See the first sentence for “Intro.” This comes off as being experimental for the sake of experimental. (1)
7. Forever Since – Very similar arrangement as “However Young They Are.” Tobin and Pollard getting in touch with their soft rock side. “In the dome of collision, we have little assurance that the next day will grant you clearance – a guest appearance.” (5)
8. Impressions of a Leg – The proceedings are injected with a little juice on this track. Bob lays down some great melodic vocals over a simple, but catchy Tobin lo-fi arrangement. The Bee Thousand enthusiasts will find much to like on this one. “And finally the price to pay is equal to the reward.” (7)
9. How Brown? – Another Pollard/Sprout rarity – a song that surpasses the four-minute mark. Bob, once again, takes to repeating a line over and over, throughout the track. Another melodic vocal performance from Pollard, albeit more restrained than some of the classic anthems. However, that proud defiance still manages to shine through. “And we must be adventurers, partners in shit-heeled glory.” (7.5)
10. Natives Approach Our Plane – Just as was done on “Wrong Drama Addiction,” “natives approach our plane” is repeated throughout this track. Sprout with another one-chord, simplistic arrangement here. Not one of their more inspired moments. “In heavy pretense, so we did avoid drafts and lotteries.” (3)
11. I Can’t Freeze Anymore – Another track that sounds like an outtake from Tower in the Fountain of Sparks. More use of a repetitive chorus and chords. Tobin leaning heavy on the synth and drum machine. “The price of ice has sky-rocketed and I'm lost in the world.” (5.5)
12. Out in the World – Sprout ditches the trusty drum machine and forgoes percussion altogether, instead falling in love with off-kilter synth sounds and pedal effects guitar. Strong vocal performance from Pollard. Comes off a little half-baked, but is more interesting than much of the material on here. We get a round during the outro, with Bob’s vocals multi-tracked and staggered to achieve the effect. “And we are unshakable!” (6)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Mist King Urth (2003)

In 1999, Bob and Doug teamed up for the excellent Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department LP. Four years later they did so again, this time calling the collaboration Lifeguards. Much like was the case with Bob's former GBV bandmate Tobin Sprout with the Airport 5 side project, Lifeguards is another “postal” affair where Doug recorded instrumental pieces in Cleveland and sent them to Pollard in Dayton to add vocals. Both Pollard and Gillard have spoken fondly of 70s progressive rock and bands like King Crimson, Genesis, Electric Light Orchestra and Gentle Giant. They have even incorporated elements of prog into a handful of Guided By Voices tracks, most notably on 2002’s Universal Truths and Cycles. On Mist King Urth, #27 in the Fading Captain Series, they go all in, crafting a modern prog classic that transports the listener back to the early 70s when the genre really emerged and enjoyed its heyday. For whatever reason, three of the eleven tracks are left as Gillard instrumentals, with Pollard electing to sit them out. Both sides mirror each other, beginning with an instrumental and concluding with extended, epic prog masterpieces. Side one is the much stronger part of the record, but side two does contain the massive, sprawling “Red Whips & Miracles” which represents one of Doug and Bob’s finest collaborations. Pollard bombards his fans with a dizzying array of side projects. At times, it can be difficult to keep up and many of these projects can get overlooked or lost in the shuffle. I think Lifeguards represents some of the best stuff Bob has ever done and Mist King Urth, while a tad uneven, contains some of the finest songs in the entire Pollard catalog. If you are a casual fan or a newcomer to Pollard, definitely check this record out. If you are a tried and true Pollard warrior, breaks this one out and fall in love all over again, or come to appreciate an album that perhaps you dismissed as you were buried by the Pollard avalanche at the turn of the century.

1. Gift of the Mountain – Opening instrumental consists of Doug laying down some power chords. Certainly not the most inspirational start to an album. (3)
2. Starts at the River – Slight volume discrepancy between Bob’s vocals (too loud) and Doug’s instrumentation (too low in the mix). I suppose this is one of the challenges of these postal albums. Otherwise, this is a solid song that doesn’t stray too far from the Pollard/Gillard/GBV formula. “Before you come choosing apathy, think of a drink, think of the real scent of the women who hurt and haunt you.” (6)
3. First of an Early Go-Getter – Chilly, haunting synth and piano opens the track. Here is where the prog goodness begins, with Bob and Doug channeling their inner Genesis. With Doug hammering away at those keys, the song builds perfectly up to the spoken word outro from Pollard, accented with some ELO-styled synth work from Gillard. “Down where and eye stops on a dolphin fairy, the world singing war & roses.” (10)
4. Society Dome – After the excesses of the previous track, Doug dials down the arrangement here, as the prog initially takes a back seat to folk. The song starts out with a simply-strummed acoustic guitar and some double-tracked Bob vocals. Additional instruments come in as the track builds and resettles in the prog zone. Love that recorder that comes in during the second half and plays a prominent role during the fantastic coda. “Basic attractions, it’s all over you and I am.” (10)
5. Shorter Virgins – Thrashing, menacing punk song to follow up the quietest song on the record. Riff bears a striking resemblance to “Now Is the Time” by The Wipers. Gillard, who has spent a lot of time on this record tickling the keys, re-establishing himself as a guitar hero on this track. I’ve heard some people say that Bob’s vocal is uninspired here. Crazy talk. “Follow the bite marks. Do you like something nice?” (9)
6. No Chain Breaking – Side one concludes with a wonderful prog epic with Bob really displaying his impressive vocal range. First half features a subtle, restrained guitar performance from Doug with an effortless vocal accompaniment from Pollard. Just past the three-minute mark, the drums come in and the songs starts to pick up some. Love this stretched-out, proggy direction Bob and Doug have ventured in. Such an excellent and unique piece in the Pollard stable. “I am a farmer, I plant you next to a better man who grows into a good boy.” (11)
7. Sea of the Dead – The second side opens with the second of the three instrumentals. Gillard channels his inner George Harrison and has his guitar gently weeping. This is better than the instrumental that opens the record, but I like Bob to be involved. (5)
8. Surgeon Is Complete – Doug going all Jimmy Page on us on this grungy Zeppelin riff fest. Song has a bit of a wobbly feel to it and sounds like it might fall off the rails. We get an abrupt and interesting bridge that has a dreamy, nursery rhyme feel to it before jumping back to the 70s cock rock. Another track where the vocals and instrumental part feel a bit disjointed. “Chasing black fingers, legs and flowers, hands won't sleep.” (5.5)
9. Then We Agree – Bit of a muted, swirling guitar with a production that sounds a bit like that utilized on Airport 5’s Tower in the Fountain of Sparks. Pollard hitting the upper parts of his range with the vocal performance. “Lost and glorious, look as we see, everything or nothing then we agree.” (7)
10. Fether Herd – The third instrumental piece features some rickety percussion and Doug pulling the recorder out again. Sounds like something you would more expect on a Circus Devils album than a Pollard/Gillard collaboration. (3)
11. Red Whips & Miracles – Bob and Doug go all in on this epic prog closer that almost pushes it to an unheard of eight and a half minutes. Candidate for best closing track on any Pollard-associated LP. First two and a half minutes features Doug laying down a steady bass along with a repeated, bouncy piano line. Bob sings a couple of brilliant verses before transforming into Jim Morrison, laying down some free-form, spoken-word poetry. After those opening two and a half minutes, Gillard lays down a neat little guitar solo. From there, it is the Doug Gillard prog showcase as he takes you on a winding piano and synth journey with all sorts of neat sound effects. We get one more guitar solo during the fantastic coda and then the Fading Captain steps in. Such an outlier in the Pollard discography and I’m all for it. “Come to the protest where flowers in your hair may bring forgiveness.” (11)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Unofficial, fan-made music video for "Society Dome"
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Waving at the Astronauts (2011)

The catalyst for this album was Travis Harrison, a New York City-based musician/engineer/producer who would later emerge as the drummer for the ESP Ohio album, Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopean, as well as become the engineer for the most recent run of GBV albums, starting with August By Cake. Travis had met Doug Gillard when his band, The Unsacred Hearts, shared a bill with Gillard in NYC. Harrison professed his love for all things GBV and Gillard enjoyed The Unsacred Hearts’ music. They stayed in touch and Travis asked Doug about the possibility of a Lifeguards follow-up to 2003’s Mist King Urth. “I was a huge fan of the first Lifeguards album,” says Harrison, “I buy everything that Bob [Pollard] puts out. After I met Doug, Bob had been in touch to tell him if he wanted to produce the music and find a label, he’d be into doing another Lifeguards record. That’s when I swooped in and pitched Doug: I have a studio, a label, the [recording] skill-set and I’m a huge fan. Let’s do this! I expected to get no response.” Doug pitched Travis’ idea to Bob and he was on board. Gillard brought a batch of new and old instrumental recording to Travis’ New York studio, Serious Business Music, where he, Travis and Bob cut the follow-up Lifeguards LP, Waving at the Astronauts. Two of the tracks are leftovers from the Mist King Urth project, one was from an abandoned film soundtrack Gillard was involved with and the remaining seven were new, original instrumentals eagerly awaiting Bob to supply his lyrics and vocal melodies to. On about half of the tracks, Travis added his own drum parts to what Doug had done himself or with a drum machine on the original recordings. The release notes for Waving at the Astronauts are as follows:
Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard of Guided By Voices are Lifeguards. The two first worked together outside of the GBV realm on the 1999 fan-classic Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Dept, which included "Do Something Real," the anthemic theme to Steven Soderbergh's film Full Frontal. Their debut release as Lifeguards, Mist King Urth emerged in 2003 on Pollard's own Fading Captain Series to fervent fan approval. In 2010 Pollard and Gillard reconvened for the first time since the end of GBV to create the astounding follow up: Waving at the Astronauts. Gillard wrote and recorded 10 complex and beautiful instrumentals at home then sent the finished compositions off to Pollard who graced the tracks with some of the most unforgettable melodies and strangely poetic lyrics of his career. In May 2010, Pollard came to New York to record his vocals with Gillard and Travis Harrison at Serious Business Music where drums and overdubs were added and the record was mixed. From the ragged and triumphant rock masterpiece "Paradise Is Not So Bad", to the chugging "Sexless Auto" and the off-kilter ramble of "What Am I", this is the latest gem from a songwriting team whose limits are larger than any arena you might try and squeeze them into.
With the notable exception of the Mist King Urth leftover “You’re Gonna Need a Mountain,” the prog influence that played such a strong role on the previous album is largely absent here. Gillard’s excellent guitar playing occupies a prominent role on Waving at the Astronauts. Other than the incredible opening track, the high points on Mist King Urth surpass those here, but Astronauts’ lesser tracks are stronger than some of the weaker material on the debut record. One of an incredible SIX Pollard-associated LPs released in 2011, Waving at the Astronauts is a welcome addition to the vast, diverse Pollard discography.

1. Paradise Is Not So Bad – “Here comes the hit…” Song starts out as a wolf in sheep’s clothes with the acoustic guitar. After approximately ten seconds of tinkering around, Doug drops the power chords and the song soars from there. Insanely hook-laden, arena rock track that ranks up there with the best Pollard’s ever penned and recorded. Love how Bob is now calling out the hooks for the listener right before they happen. Every rock and roll fan should be aware of this song. My line-in-the-sand comment here is if you listen to this and don’t think it’s a phenomenal song, your cred takes a massive hit. “Fifty years of rock n’ roll…” (11)
2. Nobody’s Milk – Unenviable task of following the powerhouse opening track. Doug lays down some staccato and spiky guitar lines. One of the tracks where Travis adds some real drums in the studio. Song meaning is that if nobody claims the milk spilled is theirs, then they can’t be held responsible for what it is that people are crying about. “Drugs aren't taking, baby. Words ain't shakin', baby.” (6.5)
3. (Doing the) Math - First shades of prog appear on this song. Arrangement features several start-and-stop dynamics. Doug claims the inspiration for the music comes from a Chopin Prelude. Doug also informs us that Ceramic the Entertainer, a terra cotta turtle flute who was on Mist King Urth's "Fether Herd", makes another appearance. “I don't wanna be a woman. It's too hard to be a man.” (6)
4. Product Head - Post-punk track in the vein of fellow Ohio rockers, Devo. According to Gillard, he wrote the music all at once on guitar in a drop-D tuning. Love the dizzying and disorienting feel of the song. This was the second single released from the LP. Bob makes a lyrical reference to the 1990 GBV album, The Same Place the Fly Got Smashed, with the line “Product head - don't forget the cake, same face the pie got smashed.” (9)
5. You’re Gonna Need a Mountain – After briefly flirting with prog on “(Doing the) Math,” Bob and Doug go all in on the side one closer. Gillard wrote the music entirely on a 4-track cassette, over 10 years ago, and that is the version that wound up here, with Bob’s vocals dubbed over the original music. Another stretched-out, key-heavy song with a strong Gabriel-era Genesis feel. This is the little cousin to “No Chain Breaking” and “Red Whips & Miracles.” “But I love you enough to hide your stuffed animals. The ones that could bite clean through your pillow.” (7.5)
6. Sexless Auto – Side two opens with a Gillard guitar assault. This is another track where Travis redid Doug’s drum part in the studio. Pollard with an A+ powerful and melodic vocal performance. No trace of prog on this one. Just Gillard-style metal. “And all the dead roses again will rise.” (7)
7. Trip the Web – A slice of Bowie/Ronson glam rock with Doug laying down some tantalizing guitar licks. We even get some handclaps, congas and Gillard singing some backup vocals "Flip the domino if you wanna know true revolution." (7)
8. They Called Him So Much – The music here is from a 2004 demo that Doug originally wrote for a potential movie soundtrack. Bob really liked it and added vocals to it for the album. Doug added some bass in the studio and the track was born. Very subdued song with its percussion coming via microphone tapping for a kick drum beat. “And so much for the master plan upon his shoulders, in his hands.” (6)
9. Keep It in Orbit – Another leftover from the Mist King Urth sessions. It obviously didn’t make it onto that record, but thankfully surfaces here. Song possesses a galloping feel as Doug lays down more thrilling guitar parts. Bob unveils a new singing persona that busts with bravado. “Cigarettes and whiskey keep them sick, sick, sick.” (8.5)
10. What Am I – The intro to the track sounds a lot like one of the guitar parts from “Alone, Stinking and Unafraid” off the excellent Lexo and the Leapers Ask Them EP. Another subdued track with Bob adopting a lounge singer-like croon. Not many, if any, songs in the Pollard catalog resemble this one. "Hi - I'm a fly... A big nasty hairy fucker wiping shit off my legs right now." (5)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Unofficial, fan-made music video for "Product Head"
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

Post by chuckrh »

another excellent release

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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New Tobin Sprout record, Empty Horses. Haven't listened yet, downloading now.

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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A Will Johnson (yes, that Will Johnson) original baseball art painting.
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Mirrored Aztec (2020)

Coming off the heels of Surrender Your Poppy Field is the second of a trio of planned 2020 GBV albums. The first, Poppy Field, is a record that borrows heavily from the prog component of Pollard’s allegiance to the 4 Ps, whereas Mirrored Aztec heavily mines the pop realm, along with a dose of that trademark garage energy GBV brings to the party. The 107th (and counting) Pollard-associated album packs eighteen original compositions into an economical forty minutes. In addition to succinct songs, the release notes for Mirrored Aztec are also uncharacteristically so:
After venturing through the tangled brambles of Plague and Poppy Field, here is a sunny summer reprieve, a relentless barrage of hooks—Mirrored Aztec is the latest stop on this runaway train. Like its immediate predecessors, Mirrored Aztec is both its own entity and unmistakably GBV.
In what was proving to be a stable, drama-free period for the band, all the same members were back in the fold, including engineer/producer Travis Harrison behind the controls. The only big shake-up here is the vibrant cover art. While the vast majority of GBV records have featured one of Bob's original collages or a photograph, Mirrored Aztec's artwork was created by fellow Daytonian artist, Courtney Latta. The outbreak of the Coronavirus killed any opportunity for the band to hit the road and promote the album. However, they did get creative and performed a fifty-plus song show on July 17th, in an empty venue in Pollard’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio, which fans will be able to livestream. Mirrored Aztec is, appropriately, a summer album, ideal for being cracked a high volumes as you drive around with the windows down or are having a nice, social-distanced outdoor darty with your friends on your patio, porch or backyard. The album does not seek to blaze new territory, rather it distills what Pollard and the band do so well, their own distinct brand of garage power pop rock & roll. The iron is glowing orange and Pollard continues to strike.

1. I Think I Had It. I Think I Have It Again – The official GBV anthem of the COVID-19 pandemic. The record charges out of the gate on this power pop nugget that clocks in at just under two minutes. “I'm keeping it low now. Yeah I promised my father, but I crave it and I'm sick once again.” (8)
2. Bunco Men – Originally written and recorded for Under the Bushes Under the Stars, this song was first officially introduced on Suitcase: Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircraft. That original version from the Under the Bushes sessions is one of my all-time favorite GBV tracks. Here, it gets an update with the new lineup. While it is a well-performed version, it’s always difficult to top your first love. “Ours is a room with a view, under the bushes.” (8)
3. Citizen’s Blitz – Bob’s vocals are slightly distorted here. Tempo is turned up a notch, with March’s drumming giving it a bit of an ass-shaking vibe. Nothing wrong with some danceable GBV. “Everything that is motionless takes a dive, stays at rest.” (6)
4. To Keep an Area – Five decades into his music career, Bob can still pen and deliver a masterpiece. The highlight of the album and 2:21 minutes of pure aural bliss. This song is so familiar, yet so fresh. Per usual, Gillard shines. “I wanted to keep you away and in an area - a safe haven, your own zone.” (11)
5. Easier Not Charming – Another up-tempo, power pop/garage rock chugger. Not in the same league as the previous track, but not many are. Shades of Earthquake Glue here. “There's a queasily alarming piston pounding the light down from the sky.” (7)
6. Please Don’t Be Honest – What a difference four years makes. Bob dusted off the GBV moniker for 2016’s Please Be Honest. He’s now changed course and requested that we follow the lead of our president and cease being honest. Fuckin’ Trump…. Another high energy track with some signature Gillard stop-and-start guitar parts. “Over a foolish impulse, a practical mindset should prevail.” (6)
7. Show of Hands – Clocking in at just under three minutes, one of the more fleshed out songs on the record. Proggish in that is incorporates several different styles and non-traditional chord progressions. Wouldn’t have sounded out of place on either of its more proggy predecessors, Sweating the Plague or Surrender Your Poppy Field. It’s the type of song well-suited for this lineup. “Reverse the exit sign. Go back in.” (8)
8. Lip Curlers – Similar feel to Zeppelin Over China’s “Questions of the Test.” Starts out relatively slow for the first twenty seconds before kicking into high gear. “She's a fertile sexagenarian with her new age aquarian.” (6.5)
9. Math Rock – This one has received some props amongst both critics and fans, but I’m not crazy about it. Some toy instruments utilized along with a children’s choir who are students at drummer Kevin March’s Montclair, NJ School of Rock. “Math rock… designed to drive Doug crazy.” (5)
10. Transfusion – I had this song months before the official album release. A no-nonsense, workhorse chugger of a track for these uncertain times. “Too much confusion, need a transfusion.” (6)
11. Biker’s Nest – The beginning of a stretch where four of the next five tracks do not reach the two-minute mark. This track represents the punk component of the 4 P formula more than any other track on Mirrored Aztec. Pollard’s love of Wire shines brightly here. “I'm drinking instant gratified animal and it goes down nice.” (7)
12. A Whale Is Top Notch – From punk to a 1:04 shot of power pop energy. The perfect audio example of short but sweet. “I got pigeons and bees. Come on, why don't we flip for a rabbit hole?” (8)
13. I Touch Down – As a former high school star quarterback, Pollard loves to incorporate sporting or football references into several of his songs. Despite the sledgehammer rhythm, Harrison adds some light atmospheric production, creating an interesting dichotomy. “I'm seeking low ground. That's what I have found.” (6)
14. Haircut Sphinx – The album return to some of the punk energy previously mined on “Biker’s Nest.” The rhythm section of Shue and March continue to deliver pummeling body blows. Gillard weaves in and out with some agile guitar lines. “Everywhere you blow the winds of change.” (7)
15. Screaming the Night Away – This track sort of spins in place. It lacks hooks and it’s not one of Bob’s better vocal performances. It just kind of blends into the background, never really distinguishing itself. “Place a bet. What you get, wishing your life away.” (4)
16. Thank You Jane – Starts out with a similar feel as “Math Rock” before Bob injects some creamy pop sweetness with that trademark melody. The band wisely takes a restrained approach allowing for Bob’s fantastic vocal performance to carry the day. Goes down smooth on the first or fortieth listen. One of the strongest tracks on the record. “You're on a roll again. You'll get us going again. You got us rolling again.” (9)
17. The Best Foot Forward – A dash of prog on what has a strong Genesis flavor to it with Bob throwing some basketball post moves references in there. “Are the best foot forwards running out of patience with us all?” (6)
18. Party Rages On – On Sweating the Plague we had a “Street Party” where the heat was insane. To close out Mirrored Aztec we discover that the party rages on. The signature sound of this version of GBV on full display. More football references with Lombardi and touchdowns. “The chairman was so dead, they called in his other wife.” (8)
You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
- DPM

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