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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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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You're doing yoeman's work here, Cortez. Keep it up.
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Thanks, Cortez. As much as I like the current GBV line up I still miss Tobin. He kind of was a nice counterbalance to Bob. Tobin's solo stuff is excellent as is his artwork.

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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chuckrh wrote:
Thu Oct 08, 2020 3:25 pm
Thanks, Cortez. As much as I like the current GBV line up I still miss Tobin. He kind of was a nice counterbalance to Bob. Tobin's solo stuff is excellent as is his artwork.
I agree. That first Airport 5 collaboration is excellent, too.
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cortez the killer
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Clams wrote:
Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:13 pm
You're doing yoeman's work here, Cortez. Keep it up.
Thanks, Clams. Not sure how much you connect with Pollard's work, but I think the new Tobin Sprout record, Empty Horses, is in your wheelhouse. Great autumn album, too.
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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cortez the killer wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:24 pm
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A Will Johnson (yes, that Will Johnson) original baseball art painting.
that's awesome.

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Pollard's Top Fiddy Records (as of June 2020)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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cortez the killer wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:15 pm
Pollard's Top Fiddy Records (as of June 2020)
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Bob showing his age, haha. Just read album #3 for 2020 coming soon.

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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chuckrh wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 6:51 pm
Just read album #3 for 2020 coming soon.
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Styles We Paid For (2020)

As the Coronavirus wreaks havoc on all aspects of society, there appears to be one entity that is largely unaffected by the global pandemic – Guided By Voices and their unwavering commitment to crank out album after album. The lineup of Robert Pollard, Doug Gillard, Kevin March, Mark Shue and Bobby Bare Jr. remain in tact to release their ninth consecutive record as a unit; their sixth in the past two years and the third of 2020. Travis Harrison once again assumes the role of The Wizard of Oz, producing and engineering the record behind the scenes. The original plan for the project, whose working title was Before Computers, was to record the album live to two-track tape at Harrison’s Brooklyn, NY studio, Serious Business Music. However, as the virus took over the world, that band was forced to adjust. “When COVID hit, plans changed,” Harrison explains in a recent interview with Discogs. “The production of the album became possible because of computers, which we constantly use anyway.” Gillard, Bare, and Shue tracked their parts at home in New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, respectively, while Harrison tracked Pollard’s vocals in Dayton in a socially-distanced manner. In the same Discogs interview, Pollard explains, “I knew we were going to continue to be creatively active. That’s the most important aspect of being a band. We’re constantly making records in perpetual motion. It never stops. Projects overlap. We’re finished with a follow-up album or two before the previous one is released. It’s always been this way with this lineup, and COVID-19 has done nothing to disrupt the flow.” Amazingly, the band was able to craft a tight, fifteen-song album that clocks in at an economical thirty-eight minutes. A stylistically diverse record, Styles We Paid For is one of the most consistent records Guided By Voices has ever released and, for my money, stands neck-and-neck with this lineup’s other brilliant album, Space Gun. Considering the circumstances under which this album was forged, and the fact it is the third full-length record the band released in 2020, Styles We Paid For is a remarkable achievement. Keep it in motion indeed!


1. Megaphone Riley – Album barrels out the gate with Pollard taking a few shots at the outgoing president and his enablers on this classic GBV chugger. The perfect mood setter that builds and builds like all good-to-great Guided By Voices songs do. Mandatory fist pumping commences at the 1:30 mark. “You bravely lead the army to slaughter and force the horses to drink poison water.” (9)
2. They Don’t Play the Drums Anymore – Another chugger that, not surprisingly, features a wide array of percussion. “They sit, beating theirs puds and starting, staring at their screen savers.” (7.5)
3. Slaughterhouse – We get out third chugger in a row, but this one carries a more menacing snarl than the previous two tracks. Some excellent bass courtesy of Mark Shue and Doug Gillard lays down some fantastic guitar lines that weave in and out of the track. I’m not 100% what goes on down at the slaughterhouse, but I know it’s some dark shit. “They taught the babies to smoke, down at the slaughterhouse.” (10)
4. Endless Seafood – Love the sequencing here. Bob follows up the darkness that is “Slaughterhouse” with a light, breezy slice of sunshine pop. Hard not to grin ear-to-ear when this song comes on. Creamy delightfulness up till the last 1/3 of the track when Pollard tacks on some proggy goodness. “You can write a song with the truth.” (10)
5. Mr. Child – The lead single from the album is this post-punk flavored rocker, featuring some fantastic Gillard riffage. While the Wire influence is strong here, in my mind, the “Hey-hey-hey-hey’s” during the outro are a hat tip and tribute to “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and Eddie Van Halen’s passing. “Mr. Child knows his role – to roll with the punches and remain a child.” (8.5)
6. Stops - Long lost cousin to Honey Locust Honky Tonk’s “Airs.” I love when Bob taps into his more understated, melancholic side. This track is a shining example of the type of brilliance to be discovered when he does so. “To drink to nothing is the real thing.” (10)
7. War of the Devils – More art-rock Wire influence as this starts out with some spasmodic synth before morphing into another grinding, chugger. Concludes with a bombastic March explosion as the song goes completely off the rails. “No reentry into the tent.” (8)
8. Electronic Windows to Nowhere – New Wave GBV! After all, Ric Ocasek did produce 1999’s Do the Collapse. The first of three songs that doesn’t quite make it to the two-minute mark. Old school Bob bemoaning modern technology. “Their images are glamoured and make a lovely pair. Electronic windows to nowhere.” (8)
9. Never Abandon Ship – Love the lunging, stop-and-start dynamics the band works up here. Gillard supplies some great licks and March is a steady force behind the kit. Another sub-two-minute nugget from the master of them. “On curiosity’s wounded duck, no longer concede defeat.” (8)
10. Roll Me to Heaven – Another grinding, chugger of a song with March’s thunderous drums bringing some added punch. Just over a minute in, the song meanders off in a completely different direction before its dramatic conclusion. I know I’ve said it multiple times, but it truly is amazing how much Pollard can pack into a song that is only 2:17 long. “Emptying the water mouth of shipping crates to outer space.” (8.5)
11. In Calculus Stratagem – Probably the most beautiful song on the album, this possesses a cinematic, roll-the-credits feel. Gillard’s guitar work here is retrained but still maintains its power. “Strange and so far out of whack. And watch you blast away the threads, like the splitting of an atom, with your nonstop verbal battering in calculus stratagem.” (9)
12. Crash at Lake Placebo – Pollard ups the pop aspect of the equation on this bouncy power pop track with hints of proggy synth added to keep it from floating away. Certainly one of the catchier songs on the record. “Now the air is cool. The end is near. The change has made them run in fear.” (8)
13. Liquid Kid – This fucking song…. Instant Pollard classic. This is where Bob’s kitchen sink approach to crafting songs knocks it out of the park. Again, he accomplishes in three minutes and twenty-two seconds what most artists would require over seven minutes to do. Songs tip-toes in an ominous way to start, working to find its footing. The transition to grab-you-by-the-throat rocker at the 1:25 is my favorite moment on the album. March’s drumming is exceptional and Doug adds some incredible synth/horns. This is a special, anthemic GBV track. “He’s the liquid kid and he’s a product of his generation. On a globe of containers and they move like mercury.” (11)
14. Time Without Looking – Melancholic Bob returns on the album’s shortest track (1:43). You get the sense that he is starting to grapple with his own mortality. “Where do they go? After the gold rush? After the screen test?” (9)
15. When Growing Was Simple – The perfect closer for a great record. Tempo is slowed down significantly and the song has a hazy feel to it and Bob reflects on the different stages of his life. Again, starting to reflect on one’s own mortality. Love how the track simply falls apart in the end. “Don’t drink and drive. Stay at home and eat.” (8)
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chuckrh
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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^^^^^ I bought it. Another winner. You could go broke trying to keep up with Robert's output! I used to try to, now I'm a bit more picky being on a fixed income. I splurged & bought 3 cds on the same day. GBV, AC/DC & DBT. All are worthy!

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Coming soon...
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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cortez the killer wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:26 am
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Coming soon...
Big thumbs up! I'll be buying this one for sure.

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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cortez the killer wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 7:29 pm
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Pre-order
Wow, that's a new record even for Robert. 4 days after release day for the current record. I read an interview once where Robert said he can write 3 songs on the crapper & 2 of them will be good. :D

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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chuckrh wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 4:08 am
cortez the killer wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 7:29 pm
Image
Pre-order
Wow, that's a new record even for Robert. 4 days after release day for the current record. I read an interview once where Robert said he can write 3 songs on the crapper & 2 of them will be good. :D
I went with the bowling shirt/vinyl bundle. :lol: :oops:
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Earth Man Blues (2021)

Pollard calls Earth Man Blues, their latest album and the band’s 33rd release, both a “collage of rejected songs” and a loose concept musical “focused on the growth of young Harold Admore Harold through a coming of age and a reckoning with darkness.” The press release for the album lays out for the listener what to expect:
The result is Earth Man Blues, which Pollard calls “a collage of rejected songs” set for release on April 30th. Despite Pollard’s humble tone, however, it’s one of GBV’s most eclectic, adventurous records to date, careening between heavy-rockers reminiscent of Black Sabbath, guitar lines cribbed from early 2000s pop-punk, near-rock operas worthy of the Who, and sweet little swingers that sound like the Monkees melting in the sun. There’s even a sample from an old stenographer instruction album.
Since its release, the positive critical response Earth Man Blues has been showered with is quite surprising when you consider that Pollard has been releasing multiple albums a year for several decades. Don’t get me wrong. Earth Man Blues is very good, but I don’t think it stands above much of the material Pollard’s released over the past several years. It was the first GBV record Pitchfork reviewed since 2017’s How Do You Spell Heaven. I’m unclear as to why they ignored the seven albums in between. In her Rolling Stone review, Brenna Ehrlich declared that Earth Man Blues “could be the band’s best album since 1995’s Alien Lanes.” I appreciate the sentiment Brenna, but come on! As Fred Thomas states in his AllMusic review:
Prolific output has always been a component of Guided by Voices' charm, but during the phase that began around 2012's Let's Go Eat the Factory, the band kicked into overdrive like never before. Since that point, it wasn't uncommon for a single calendar year to see two or three full-length GbV albums, and 33rd studio album Earth Man Blues comes just months after 2020's Styles We Paid For (already the band's third album of that year). Despite this unending stream of new material, the band shows no signs of diluting creativity, and the 15 songs on Earth Man Blues find songwriter Bob Pollard exploring the weirder corners of his mind in between delivering more straightforward power pop bangers.
Despite a tepid review for the album, I think Robin Ferris of The Line of Best Fit makes a solid point regarding GBV:
Despite a whopping 33-album-long career, Guided By Voices have smartly remained kings of the underground rather than graduating to small players in the mainstream. Robert Pollard’s songwriting remains relatively fool-proof even after all these years, granting the band a more consistent and vast discography than virtually any of their lo-fi ‘90s contemporaries.
And, finally, recent Middlebury College graduate and Pitchfork Associate Editor , Hubert Adjei-Kontoh, in his Earth Man Blues review perceptively proclaims:
Pollard projects a grand ambition that can’t be summarized in a single story: To create a body of work so sprawling that fans spend their entire lives listening to find hits as great as the song that hooked them.
And while quality will always outweigh quantity, it is not wise to assume prolific means a dilution of quality. May I introduce you to Robert Ellsworth Pollard Jr.?

1. Made Man – The proceedings kick off with Kevin March authoritatively cracking his drumsticks together. If I didn’t know these songs are leftovers from the classic lineup reunion, I’d be hard-pressed not to think this one is a spillover from the Pollard, Slushy, Moen collaboration, Boston Spaceships. Starts out as a straightforward garage, power pop charger before taking an abrupt detour into some alternative psychedelic chamber orchestra universe with Bob’s vocals being significantly altered. “And I’m fairly in tune, but I come undone when I get happy.” (7)
2. The Disconnected Citizen – Gorgeous, lush acoustic guitars usher this ballad in. Bob slows and drops his voice down into Eddie Vedder territory. I’m assuming it Doug Gillard who whips up the stately string arrangements that elevate this track. Pollard being Pollard tacks on some creepy, Harold Pig Memorial-esque Circus Devils effects during the outro. “And I was collected by voices dark and echoing my mood, something like a psychogenic fugue.” (8)
3. The Batman Sees the Ball – Very hard to believe this song was originally a reject. The “hit” of the album is a power pop/prog hybrid rocker. The band is firing on all cylinders, with Doug Gillard providing some signature guitar wizardry. Fist-pumpers everywhere will rally around this track. “Roosters decide to kick it. Too many cockblockers in the way.” (10)
4. Dirty Kid School – The COVID-shaming anthem of 2021! Somewhat catchy and somewhat awkward. Bob has traditionally held close to the 4 Ps (pop, punk, psych & prog), but here he taps into his inner-Sondheim and incorporates some musical theatre into the mix. The bridge sounds like it’s ripped from the West Side Story soundtrack. “All day you will save your strength so you can run for another day to fight for dirty school kid pride.” (6)
5. Trust Them Now – The album shifts back to more familiar territory on this needle-in-the-red rocker that brings to mind “King Arthur the Red” off 2012’s excellent The Bears for Lunch. The guitars are fast and furious and March continues to kill it behind the kit. Undeniable ass-shaker that is destined to whip the crowd into a frenzy at the next live show. “Let filthy toxic visions be destroyed with every expectation for a boy to find happiness but not joy.” (9)
6. Lights Out in Memphis (Egypt) – Side one closes out with 5:41 psych/prog epic featuring some phenomenal, sci-fi-sounding synths. I’ve mentioned it several times over the course of these write-ups - nobody but Robert Pollard crafts a song like this. The liner notes introduce this track with the following, “Wildly popular apocalyptic sci-fi television series now in final season 9.” The abrupt stylistic changes and arrangements here provide some insight as to perhaps why the classic lineup wasn’t up to the task of giving this song the proper treatment Bob envisioned. However, this current lineup crushes it. They even bring back some musical theatre arrangements back into the mix, starting at the 3:44 mark before transitioning back to a brooding, proggy space twenty seconds later. “Trained alien sales reps for Aluminum Can Siberia in your homes.” (9)
7. Free Agents – Pollard reaches back in time conjuring up a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on his 1998 solo album Waved Out. This propulsive, two-minute rocker also benefits some more fantastic synths courtesy of Gillard. Crack open a Gold Top and pump your fist along with me. “We all shine like diamond rings. Never been to heaven, but I’ve heard good things.” (8.5)
8. Sunshine Girl Hello – The master collagist, Bob dips back into the well and stitches two different songs to together to make one cohesive track. The intro/outro are credited in the liner notes as “Fighter Back of Tears.” Sandwiched in between those great snippets is a great slice of pop introduced by someone declaring, “One count one, slap your knees.” That transition has a Cash Rivers feel to it. The meat of this song is another Boston Spaceships-sounding track that sounds like an outtake take from either Zero to 99 or Let It Beard. Man, I miss Boston Spaceships! “She wanted to stay behind, but I got a race car mind - don’t like to wait.” (8)
9. Wave Starter – This song is introduced in the liner notes with the following snippet – “Fun at the beach followed by an unexpected child.” Nothing like some sex on the beach. Well, I suppose the resulting child is something. Strong R.E.M. feel in this 1:33 jaunty rocker. “And I want you. And I want you to tell ‘em ‘bout me.” (7)
10. Ant Repellent – Not only is Pollard a talented and prolific musician, he’s also a huge record nerd. Outside of The Who, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Wire and several other of the more popular bands he's drawn inspiration from and championed over the years, he is a huge fan of the band Sparks. Their influence is all over this track. Love how the chorus belts out – “Ant re pell ant! Ant re pell ant!” (6.5)
11. Margaret Middle School – Only a minute and ten seconds long, but what a song! The guitar tones here are intoxicating, leaving you thirsting for more. It truly is insane how much Pollard can pack into a song that just eclipses the one-minute mark. “But girls take a chance for the fact that the boys can’t dance.” (9)
12. I Bet Hippy – A bit more muted a track with some atmospherics and echo effects to Bob’s voice added in by producer/engineer Travis Harrison. This is one of the tracks the classic lineup definitely could’ve handled, but I think Travis’ production makes this one ultimately work. “I bet Hippy. I will wander North and South.” (6)
13. Test Pilot – Another no-nonsense, minute-and-a-half power pop gem to add to your GBV Bangers playlist. Bob adopting a bit of a slurred and slightly constipated vocal styling for this one. “Since you may not have my number, I’m gonna call on you.” (7)
14. How Can a Plumb be Perfected? – Pollard employs another stylistic detour here. This time we travel to 80s Dunedin, New Zealand seeking inspiration from The Chills. I love the contrast of Bob’s low, hushed vocals during the verses against the borderline-falsetto he adopts for the choruses. The arrangement and production is perfectly haunting and atmospheric. Another uniquely-Pollard song to add to the ever-growing canon. “How can a plumb be for all time still completely perfect? I sit around always thinking about how?” (8.5)
15. Child’s Play – Following the delicate beauty of “How Can a Plumb be Perfected?” the album concludes with a high-energy ass-shaker. All bow to the glorious genius of Doug Gillard. The blast of synths that creep in around the forty second mark are sublime. Just a great way to end the record. “Child’s play is wanton. Porcelain and glass.” (9)
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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This has me really excited for Clang Clang Ho.
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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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I got tickets for GBV in Seattle in March. Hopefully health issues will allow me to go. They actually playing on a Saturday for a change!

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Re: Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard

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I really hope you get to see that show, Chuck.
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