Kevin, Andre, Madelyn, and Chef Paul brawl over Dismemberment Plan's legacy and their return album Uncanney Valley. PLUS the gang enlightens Madelyn as to Cass McCombs' musical genius on Big Wheel and Others.
The question “How much is too much?” is one lots of people might ask themselves when approaching the catalog of Robert Pollard and his band of lo-fi royalty, Guided By Voices. Since reuniting the so-called classic lineup for Matador’s 21st birthday in 2010, the band has toured the world, bringing back to the stage their short bursts of rock laid down on four-track recorders in Ohio basements over cases of Miller Lite and cartons of an undetermined cigarette brand. Since disbanding the mighty GBV in 2004, Pollard has released 16 solo albums and 7” singles apiece, alongside five EPs, five albums from his already disbanded yet rather excellent Boston Spaceships project, and so many other quote-unquote “side projects” that it got a little tiring to keep track of a man whose former full time gig only dropped roughly a full length a year and maybe a single or three.
Today, his work ethic of the last decade rubbed seems off on his former band mates, who hadn’t cut an album together since 1996’s thunderous Under The Bushes Under The Stars. Guided By Voices have already released two albums this year - January’s comeback hodgepodge Let’s All Go Eat The Factory and June’s future classic Class Clown Spots A UFO - and now the beer guzzling and chain smoking over short bursts of pop songs continues on their third and final album of 2012, The Bears For Lunch.
What would surprise the casual GBV listener, not the diehard fan who pre-ordered all of their 2012 releases and even tracked down a copy of 2005’s Acid Ranch’s As Forever, is that they still continue to make great, catchy rock anthems. And although the songs released as advanced singles unfortunately are the strongest songs, the ones that you can comfortably put together on a playlist for a new fan alongside “Tractor Rape Chain” and “Cut-Out Witch”, it doesn’t mean the other songs aren’t the worst things they’ve done. Sure, there’s the legitimate fodder (the :35 second “Smoggy Boy” sounds like a piece from the scrap heap,) but you do have the surprise of Pollard, alongside axe men MItch Mitchell and Tobin Sprout, churning out catchy tracks that you’ll be singing and fisting pumping to in your car or with your friends at a BBQ.
SOUNDS LIKE: Guided By Voices! The Mighty G-B-V! Circa ... 1996.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The Kings Of Lo-Fi continue their reign over all of us on their latest single
Robert Pollard doesn't know when to slow down. He's released two solo albums this year, he's probably recording his third right now (or at least writing enough songs for his solo albums to come out in 2013). Alongside this, he continues riding the reunion train with the classic line-up of the almighty Guided By Voices, as they prep their THIRD ALBUM OF 2012!! Some bands struggle to make one album every three years, yet Pollard has a way of continuing to churn out quality* songs for every month of they year.
If you've seen them live this year, you've heard "The Hangover Child" from the upcoming The Bears For Lunch. But what you didn't hear is "She Lives In An Airport", a near three minute pop song, replete with the classic guitar chugs of Tobin Sprout & Mitch Mitchell. And of course, any GBV song would not be complete without good ol' Uncle Bob's stabs at sounding British with the way he enunciates his words. While longtime fans may have initially found themselves leary of any new album from GBV in 2012, the quality of songs on the schizo Let's Go Eat The Factory and the near flawless Class Clown Spots A UFO, have handily silenced their skepticism, leaving even the most resistant fan hungry to see what's on the menu for Lunch in a few weeks.
Blah, blah, blah, Robert Pollard is really prolific. If I had a dollar for ever record he’s ever recorded, I would have enough money to buy a really nice stereo component system to play them. This record, Class Clown Spots a UFO, is not going to win any new fans, and he still sounds like the Who for the 90s. Blah, blah! Like always, his songs are short (the length of Pollard’s compositions is akin to a kid skipping whip-its and starting out on speedballs: why mess around with verses and middle 8s when you can just write chorus over and over again?). Blah, blah, blah! Songs alternate between revved up rock n’ roll to intimate, close-miked psychedelic confessions. Fuck it! Let’s try to imagine that this old dog and his newly reconstituted “classic” Guided by Voices haven’t performed this trick a million times. Oh, who am I kidding?
This is the same old Pollard, and part of the fun of being a GBV fan is that he was a school teacher from Dayton who recorded albums on his basement four track with his friends. He has no business being a “rock star,” which is precisely why he was so needed. But those days are over. What with Band Camp and Facebook, we are probably never going to see another obsessive fan rewriting the Who’s A Quick One over and over for just his buddies to hear, only to stumble into indie rock stardom though true talent and no, ahem, music website hype.
The double album Let It Beard will be in stores August 2.