Then I'm off and running
Aloof and cunning
Then I'm off and running
That Tobin Sprout show we were talking about is phenomenal. I want more!!!!!!cortez the killer wrote: ↑Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:35 pmThen I'm off and running
Aloof and cunning
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.
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.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.
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.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.
So I guess it's Airport 5 next.
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.
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.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.
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.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.