Tag Archive | "Boston Spaceships"

Eyelids – 854

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Eyelids – 854

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Dorian

When Robert Pollard chose to bring his Boston Spaceships project to an end (the band that released our favourite album of 2011) the core of the band stayed together and formed Eyelids. Headed up by Chris Slusarenko and John  Moen the band play a classic hook laden rock that evokes Big Star, The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub and Velvet Crush across their debut album 854.

Eyelids 854

Now, I’m not at all surprised that this is a good record. John Moen has played with the Jicks, The Decemberists and Eliott Smith (and dozens more, so he clearly has good taste and is a skilled musician. Chris Slusarenko to my mind is the equal of Tobin Sprout and Doug Gillard in being the perfect foil to Robert Pollard, their work together as The Takeovers is among my favourite of the Guided By Voices side-projects. What does surprise me is just how good a record it is, and one that is making a strong challenge to be my favourite of the year so far.

The album splits loosely 50/50 between John and Chris taking lead vocals and both is in fine voice on the record. Backed up with some lovely vocal harmony work the voices sound great throughout. In fact ‘854’, the albums title track, features lead vocals by them both and is possibly my favourite track on the album.

The playing is great too, with fine guitar work provided by the two lead singers as well as fellow Boston Spaceship’s alumni Jonathan Drews. A strong rhythm section (Jim Talstra on bass and Paulie Pulvirenti on drums) completes the band and we have a very full and fully formed sound on our hands.

Strong singing and playing is nothing however if the songs aren’t good enough, and my past experience of the band members gave me no clues as to their songwriting chops. The good news here is that the songs are uniformly great right from the twin single blast ofd ‘Seagulls Into Submission’ and ‘Psych #1’ through to the tense and hurried ‘Say Its Alright’ (complete with a vicious guitar solo) and the final calm of ‘From A Distance’. These are songs that have a classic sound but also have a real timeless quality, this isn’t retro-rock for the sake of it, you can tell that the band care about these songs.

Throughout the record their are sweet hooks, catchy phrases and magic moments to enjoy.  ‘Abby’s Friends’, sitting in the middle of the album, possibly edges it for me as my favourite song on the record, and perfectly encapsulates all the great elements that make it such a satisfying release.

This is an album that I enjoy more with each listen, and one I expect to come back to for years to come. Hopefully it is the first of many releases from the band.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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The Greatest Hits Of Boston Spaceships: Out Of The Universe By Sundown

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The Greatest Hits Of Boston Spaceships: Out Of The Universe By Sundown

Posted on 07 October 2012 by Dorian

After Robert Pollard disbanded Guided By Voices first time around we lost one of the great rock bands. Pollard continued to produce music in a variety of guises, mainly solo and with the Circus Devils, but nothing that fitted into that classic rock band mould. It was therefore an exciting time when he announced the formation of Boston Spaceships, named after his own nick-name for his favourite doughnut, with Chris Slusarenko and Jicks and Decemberists drummer John Moen. Between 2008 and 2011 they released five brilliant albums before suddenly splitting up after the release of 2011’s best album Let It Beard.

None of these albums got official UK releases which makes Fire Record’s best of collection, Out Of The Universe By Sundown, more exciting than most greatest hits collections.

Boston Spaceships

With a collection of songs by a band it is easy to focus on what isn’t featured, and some of my favourites songs don’t make the cut. I’d have included ‘Chevy Marigold’, ‘Psych Threat’ and half a dozen other tracks on my own collection, but a single CD set of 15 songs isn’t going to have every brilliant track included. What is harder to do is argue against the inclusion of any of the songs that feature here. From the pop brilliance of ‘You Satisfy Me’, from their debut, through to  ‘Tourist UFO’ from their swansong (complete with an epic J Mascis guitar solo) their is not one duff track featured.

This collection is proof, if proof were needed, that Boston Spaceships were up their with Guided By Voices as one of the great bands of Pollard’s erratic and esoteric career. You only have to look at the guest guitarists that he managed to attract through their career (Chris Funk, Gary Jarman, Peter Buck, Colin Newman, Dave Rick and Steve Wynn among them) to see that this was not one of his throwaway side projects; this was the real deal. Listen to ‘Let It Rest For A Little While’, from Zero To 99, and you’ll hear the best track that Peter Buck played on for most of the decade.

The quality of songs here is complimented by the quality of the playing on show, Slusarenko is a hugely talented multi-instrumentalist and John  Moen is one of the best drummers around today. Add that to the guests across the albums and some of the best performances of Pollard’s career and you have a pretty classic combination.

This album is not one for fans or collectors, there are no demos, live tracks, unreleased songs or b-sides. What you get is a selection of  15 songs from one of the best bands of the 21st century hand picked by Robert Pollard himself. I’m not an entirely impartial voice, I make no secret of how much I love Robert Pollard’s work, but I can tell the difference between his good and bad releases. I’d never encourage anyone to buy the largely awful ‘Superman Was A Rocker’ collection for example. What I can do is unreservedly recommend this album to anyone who wants to hear a set that demonstrates just how good guitar music can be.

10/10

By Dorian Rogers

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October Preview

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October Preview

Posted on 01 October 2012 by Dorian

Here is our October preview of the best music releases and events in the coming month. Items marked with an * are currently scheduled for review on the site.

Albums

Album of the month: The Greatest Hits Of Boston Spaceships – Out Of The Universe By Sundown*

We wouldn’t normally pick a best-of collection as our album of the month but as this is the first Boston Spaceships album to get a UK release we’ll make an exception. Collecting 15 tracks from the bands five albums it represents some of the best music of Robert Pollard’s career. (Out on Fire Records on the 8th October)

Boston Spaceships - Greatest Hits Of Boston Spaceships

The Greatest Hits Of Boston Spaceships

1st October

Dark Dark Dark – Who Needs Who

Bob Mould – Silver Age*

Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You

The Soft Pack – Strapped

Field Music…Play (read our review)

8th October

Tame Impala – Lonerism*

Why? – Mumps etc.

Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth (read our review)

Tall Ships – Everything Touching

15th October

AC Newman – Shut Down The Streets*

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man

Jim Jones Revue – The Savage Heart

Jason Lytle – Department Of Disappearance

22nd October

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs

Of Montreal – Daughter Of Cloud*

Peter Broderick – These Walls Of Mine

29th October

Neil Young – Psychedelic Pill

Madness – Oui Oui, Si Si, Ja Ja, Da Da

Gigs and tours

Tour of the month: Field Music

Field Music have been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and you have the opportunity to see them on what may be their last tour for some time.

  • Oct 03 2012, Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree
  • Oct 04 2012, Glasgow, Oran Mor
  • Oct 05 2012, Leeds, The Cockpit
  • Oct 06 2012, Liverpool, Kazimier
  • Oct 10 2012, Southampton, Cellars
  • Oct 11 2012, Cardiff, clwb Ifor Bach
  • Oct 12 2012, Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
  • Oct 17 2012, London, Electric Ballroom
  • Oct 18 2012, Brighton, The Haunt*
  • Oct 19 2012, Bath, Komedia
  • Oct 20 2012, Coventry, Warwick Arts Centre
Field Music

Field Music

The Twilight Sad tour the UK in October:

  • 18 Thur NEWCASTLE Cluny
  • 19 Fri WAKEFIELD The Hop
  • 20 Sat MANCHESTER Sound Control
  • 22 Mon BIRMINGHAM Hare & Hounds
  • 23 Tue LONDON Dingwalls
  • 24 Wed BRISTOL Louisiana
  • 25 Thur CAMBRIDGE Portland Arms
  • 26 Fri LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
  • 27 Sat PRESTON Mad Ferret
Cheatahs – The new Wichita Records signings on tour, including several dates with The Cribs
  • 17 October – London, 100 Club w/Veronica Falls & Mazes
  • 23 October – Oxford, Academy 2, w/The Cribs
  • 24 October – Norwich, Waterfront w/The Cribs
  • 25 October – Liverpool, 02 Academy w/The Cribs
  • 26 October – Manchester, Apollo w/The Cribs
  • 29 October – Manchester, 02 Academy w/The Cribs
  • 30 October – Sheffield, 02 Academy w/The Cribs
  • 01 November – Leicester, Academy w/The Cribs
  • 02 November – London, The Others
  • 06 November – London, Village Underground w/Cloud Nothings

The Tallest Man On Earth – Dates across the UK and Ireland through October

  • HMV Forum Kentish Town, London, Oct 23
  • Colston Hall Bristol, Oct 24*
  • Vicar Street Dublin, Oct 25
  • Mandela Hall Belfast, Oct 27
  • HMV Picture House Edinburgh, Oct 28
  • HMV Ritz Manchester, Manchester, Oct 29
  • St Bartholomews Church Brighton, Oct 31
Efterklang – The Danish band play live with the Northern Sinfonia
  • 23.10 GATESHEAD, NEWCASTLE, UK – The Sage
  • 24.10 EDINBURGH, UK – Usher Hall
  • 27.10 COVENTRY, UK – Warwick Arts Centre
  • 28.10 BRIGHTON, UK – Dome
  • 29.10 MANCHESTER, UK – Bridgewater Hall
  • 30.10 LONDON, UK – Barbican

Festivals

The festival season is over in the traditional sense, but there are still interesting festival events happening through the Autumn.

Oxjam

Oxjam is a nationwide music event throughout October with events nationwide raising money for Oxfam. Our event featuring Rotifer, Tigercats and Danny Kendall is sure to be on of the best but you can look for events throughout the month in your area on the Oxjam wegottickets portal. You can find out more about the event, and about the good work that Oxfam does with the money raised, by visiting www.oxfam.org.uk/oxjam.

Oxjam

Oxjam

A Carefully Planned Festival

A Carefully Planned Festival is a multi-venue festival featuring 100 acts in Manchester on the 20th and 21st October. Amongst the bands playing is Neon Filler favourite Free Swim who will be playing track from their brilliant new EP She Dreams In Lights. More details can be found at www.acarefullyplannedfestival.wordpress.com.

Other stuff

Magical Mystery Tour on DVD

On the 8th October you will have the opportunity to purchase a the much maligned 1967 Beatles film on DVD and Blu-Ray. The soundtrack has considerable high points, including ‘I Am The Walrus’, but the jury is out on the film that was considered one of the band’s bigger follies.

The Magical Mystery Tour

The Magical Mystery Tour

To get your album/gig/tour/film/book/festival/t-shirt included in our monthly preview please send details to dorian@neonfiller.com.

By Dorian Rogers

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Robert Pollard – Jack Sells The Cow

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Robert Pollard – Jack Sells The Cow

Posted on 25 September 2012 by Dorian

2012 seems like a slow year by Robert Pollard standards, it is almost October and this is only his second solo album release. Even with three Guided By Voices albums and touring duties it is a slowdown compared to 2011 where he released six albums across five different identities, including the years best album in Boston Spaceships’s double album final release. Five albums in one year (and eleven in two) is an absurd amount by any other artist, but the prolific Mr.Pollard has never had a problem with song writing quantity.

Robert Pollard - Jack Sells The Cow

The song writing quantity has sometimes lead to a quality control issue, and this has always been most noticeable on his side projects and solo releases, with Guided By Voices and then Boston Spaceships being the vehicles for his most structured albums. Recently though he has shown more of an even standard on his solo offerings, something that has reduced the number of throwaway numbers but has also made his work just that bit more predictable.

From that point of view Jack Sells The Cow doesn’t start off brilliantly, ‘Heaven Is A Gated Community’ is a Pollard by numbers mid-paced rocker that sounds all too familiar. It isn’t a bad song, Pollard is too good a writer for that, but it doesn’t grab me or offer anything new. Song three, ‘Who’s Running My Ranch’, is where the album really starts to kick in with voice samples, vocal overdubs, Batman theme bass and some pleasingly erratic guitars making the song an early high-point. It also illustrates a step forward for his work with Todd Tobias as they seem to be more comfortable and adventurous in the studio.

There are also a couple of songs that throw back all the way to the first ever Guided By Voices release, Forever Since Breakfast, in that they demonstrate Bob’s early REM influence. This is most notable on the bounce and jangle of the sprightly ‘Pontius Pilate Heart’, this is alt-pop at its best and could easily have been sung by a young Michael Stipe. Hearing Bob sound this free and light of touch is refreshing and it is on these songs that the album makes its mark.

There are some great noisy rockers on the album, ‘Fighting The Smoke’ has some beautifully dirty bass sounds, and nobody else does over-effected vocals this well. However, it is on the quieter moments where the songs really shine through here. ‘Red Rubber Army’ is one of those songs that sounds unique and familiar all at once, a melody so deceptively simple that you know Bob wrote it in a few minutes, close to perfect.

Robert Pollard will release better solo albums than this, possibly later this year, but by any standards this is a good record with a few moments of genuine genius.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Robert Pollard – Let It Beard Boombox Demos

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Robert Pollard – Let It Beard Boombox Demos

Posted on 11 December 2011 by Dorian

Let It Beard, the final album from Robert Pollard’s Boston Spaceships, was a stand-out album this year and made top spot in our 2011 Top 20. The album was recorded by Robert Pollard as demos on his boombox before being sent to the musicians in the band to record their parts. www.gbvdigital.com have made these demos available from their website and we can all get an insight into the song-writing and recording process of one of the most prolific artists of all time.

Let It Beard Demos

The thing that strikes you most when listening to the tracks is how “finished” the songs are at the demo stage. They are rough and warts and all, false starts, hesitation and vocal errors are all there, but the songs have the same basic arrangements, style and rhythm as the finished versions. ‘Blind 20-20’ has the same frenetic guitar style as the final song and you can almost hear the gaps where the superb backing vocals would go on ‘Chevy Marigold’.

Even more amazingly the songs were written whilst recording took place,”conjuring” as Robert Pollard calls it, leading to some necessity to cut bits of songs together on some of these tracks. Pollard’s individual brilliance takes nothing away from his musical partners Moen and Slusarenoko, it was their brilliant playing that took these sparse acoustic demo’s and turned them into the best guitar album of the year. The gaps are part of the fascination of an album like this,  listening to ‘Tourist UFO’, even in this form, you are waiting for the brilliant J Mascis guitar solo.

It is difficult to review an album like this, and not one that I’d consider giving a score to, it is a brilliant musical document but not one that I expect to listen to as much as the full album. If you haven’t heard the full album (and you really should, go and buy it right now) you are missing a big part of the enjoyment of listening to the songs in this form. Any fan of Robert Pollard’s work in any of his guises will get a lot from this though, a nice insight into the master at work.

It also makes me think that a Robert Pollard solo acoustic album could be a pretty wonderful thing. An album of his songs played by him on his acoustic guitar with a bit more of a slick production (but not too slick) would be a great addition to his already enormous discography.

Limited edition physical copies of this album sold out in just two days but the album is available for digital download for free on the GBV Digital website.

By Dorian Rogers

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Top 20 Albums of 2011

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Top 20 Albums of 2011

Posted on 02 December 2011 by Joe

We have to admit the year started badly in terms of album releases.  By March we were struggling to think of more than a couple of excellent album releases let alone begin a shortlist of 20.

Then winter turned to spring and the flood gates opened with  new bands emerging and some old stagers reliving their glory days and in some cases bettering them. We have our first ever classical music entry in an end of year album list, some great new UK folk music and a staggering achievement in song writing by one familiar face in our end of year lists.

We’ve even found room for an album about 1970/80s wrestling by one of the music industry’s funniest and most caustic writers and artists.

In the end its turned out to be a pretty fine year for releases, as two of the biggest names of 1990s alternative music battle it out for our top two places.  Get your bus fare ready, prepare to race down to your local independent record store, and enjoy Neonfiller.com’s Top 20 Albums of 2011.

20. Johann Johannson – The Miners’ Hymns

In a year of public sector cuts, strikes and the Gleision mining tragedy this soundtrack by  Jóhann Jóhannsson to Bill Morrison’s mining documentary of the same name helped it become our first classical music entry in an end of year list. The haunting and powerful music he creates to depict the brutal hardships of the industry and the chaos of the 1984 strike were recorded live at Durham Cathedral, which gives it added gravitas. Read our full review here.

19. Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

This Texan band’s follow up to its critically acclaimed previous albums The Stage Names and The Stand Ins brings more fire and bite to their sound as frontman Will Sheff took co-production duties. At times cinematic, at others indie rock not one of its 11 tracks are skippable. Among are highlights are opener The Valley and one of its singles Wake Up and Be Fine.  Read our full review here.

18. John Maus – We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves

Former Ariel Pink collaborator John Maus has plunged deep into the murky waters of the early 1980s to deliver one of the most stark, fascinating and strangely enjoyable slices of synth pop you will hear all year. Among our highlights on this, his third album, is the track ‘Cop Killer’. Read our full review here.

17. The Leisure Society  – Into The Murky Water

This second album by The Leisure Society gives us the urge to jump in our Neon Filler branded Morris Minor, dress up in our  Prisoner gear and take a dip in the murky waters of Bognor Regis or Portmerion, stopping off for some fish and chips and a pickled egg. This eccentric, most English of albums was one of the highlights of our summer. Read our full review here.

16. Timber Timbre – Creep on Creepin On

Featuring core multi-instrumentalist members Taylor Kirk, Mika Posen and Simon Trottier this peach of an album by Canada’s Timber Timbre seems to inhabit another universe where 1950’s B-movie soundtracks and dirty rock and roll rule supreme. It’s a strange mix that works thanks to Kirk’s soulfully odd (or should that be oddly soulful) vocals and the added instrumentation of pianist Mathieu Charbonneau and saxophonist Colin Stetson to add to its vintage charm. Read our full review here.

15. Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell – Kite

Just like the Mercury nominations we like to feature a new folk act in our end of year round ups. This year’s slot goes to the excellent Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell. Nominated for a 2011 BBC Folk horizon award, given to emerging new talent, they have clearly caught the ear of Radio 2’s Mike Harding and his production team. Rachel Unthank and her husband Adrian McNally are also admirers and produced this wonderful debut from the pair  in Northumberland. Read our full review here.

14. Singing Adams – Everybody Friends Now

This debut album from former Broken Family Band man Steven Adams’ latest project was one of the best indie-pop releases of the year, mixing Adams’ clever and poignant lyrics with a fine bunch of melodies. His band are a bunch of seasoned indie and alternative musicians and live they are well drilled outfit. We have been so impressed that they topped our Top Ten bands to watch out for in 2012 list. Our highlights on this excellent album include the singles I Need Your Mind and Injured Party. Read our full review here.

13. Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

With its stripped back feel, punctuated with squealing electric guitars and flutes, Apocalypse can be an unsettling listen at times, but not for too long as Callahan’s luxuriously deep voice has a calming influence and can easily draw you back to normality.  Read our full review here.

12. Battles – Gloss Drop

There are so many striking aspects to Gloss Drop, the follow up to the crazy, cartoonified thrill ride that was Battles’ last album Mirrored.  The range of singers including Gary Numan, the sense of fun and above all some superb drumming are just some that immediately spring to mind. Read our full review here.

11. David Lowery  – The Palace Guards

The Palace Guards is the first solo album from  Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven front-man David Lowery. It’s taken a while to come out but  its been worth the wait. This is among the best work from one of alternative music’s most engaging songwriters. Read our full review here.

10. The Miserable Rich – Miss You In The Days

Three albums in and The Miserable Rich are really hitting their stride as one of the UK’s most innovative acts, mixing compelling story telling with chamber pop and most importantly some damn fine tunes. Among the highlights on this their third album is the swirling Ringing the Changes. Read our full review here.

9. Kathryn Calder – Are You My Mother?

This  solo album from New Pornographer Calder has the professionalism and confidence you’d expect from a seasoned performer and her personality shines through lifting it above the norm and adding real charm to proceedings. The album was recorded while looking after her mother who was dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease. This gives the album an underlying sense of melancholy in places that adds an emotional depth few songwriters can manage. Read our full review here.

8. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck

The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle’s song writing and survival instincts grow stronger with each release.  With three different producers there’s a surprising consistency as he exposes his hidden demons and offers up  some bittersweet tales of the famous along the way, from Charles Bronson to Judy Garland.  Uplifting stuff.  Read our full review here.

7. Low – C’Mon

C’mon may just be this year’s great American album, with echoes of Johnny Cash and Gram Parsons throughout. With very precise production from Matt Beckley and the band,  which is fronted by husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, they have created an album that is melancholy, epic and just plain beautiful in places. Read our full review here.

6. Destroyer – Kaputt

An immaculate attention detail in recreating the sounds and production of the 1980s has helped Dan Bejar (aka Destroyer) become the second member of Canadian super group The New Pornographers to enter our Top 20.  Bejar has never sounded better as he takes the role of world weary rock star reminiscing in style. Part New Order, part Prefab Sprout, this is arguably his best album to date.  Read our full review here.

5. Wilco – The Whole Love

Wilco - The Whole Love

The Whole Love is probably closest in style to previous album Wilco (The Album) but  that little bit better. It also shows  a band at the peak of its powers, playing with confidence, inventiveness and real skill. You get the pop Wilco, the rock Wilco, the experimental Wilco and the soft melodic Wilco, all of which adds up to one of the most satisfying releases of the year. Read our full review here.

4. Luke Haines – 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s and Early 1980s.

Luke Haines Wrestling

The former Auteur and author of the excellent  book Bad Vibes returns from a two year recording break to turn his attention to the world of British wrestling from around 30 years ago. Witty, concise, well executed and completely unlike any other album we’ve heard this year. Haines clearly isn’t quite ready to throw the towel in just yet on his recording career. Read our full review here.

3. Darren Hayman – January Songs

Busy doesn’t even come close to describing  Darren Hayman’s year. He was involved in the  Vostok 5 art exhibition and album about space explorers, released an album of piano ballads  The Ships Piano, plays bass in Rotifer and  is involved in all sorts of Christmas releases for  Fika Recordings. His crowning achievement though for us was to write,  record and release a song a day during January. The end product January Songs, which is available to download and from January 2012 in CD format, contains some of the former Hefner frontman’s best work and offered a  great example of social media interaction between artist and audience, who helped him along the way with lyrics and ideas.  Read our full review here.

2. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Mirror Traffic

Thanks to production from Beck the former Pavement frontman has ditched some of his rock star, guitar squealing cliches to reveal one of  his best albums for years and certainly his best since his Pavement glory days. The finely honed  single The Senator is among our many highlights. Read our full review here.

1. Boston Spaceships – Let It Beard

Let It Beard

Narrowly pipping Stephen Malkmus to the top spot is another veteran of the 1990s US alternative music scene, Robert Pollard and his act Boston Spaceships. The album echoes a number of Pollard’s favourite classic acts, the Beatles are in there, but it is The Who that are the most obvious influence on this guitar drenched album. It has the Pollard stamp throughout and you can’t imagine anyone else producing a record quite like this now, or any time in the last 30 years. Read our full review here.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

See also: Spotify – Neonfiller.com’s Best of 2011 Spotify List.


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Boston Spaceships – Let It Beard

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Boston Spaceships – Let It Beard

Posted on 08 August 2011 by Dorian

Robert Pollard can be his own worse enemy, his decision to record and release so many albums makes it hard for consumers to tell the wheat from the chaff. In the past you could count on his Guided By Voices output and you had to be a bit cautious with everything else. Since the demise of GBV this has become a trickier pursuit, good Bob and bad Bob come from all angles, but Boston Spaceships have been pretty consistently on the good side.

Let It Beard

The latest from Bob’s main band is better than on the good side, it is his first album in a while that is on the great side. 70 minutes and 26 tracks long it is the masterpiece that he has been promising since he formed the band with Chris Slusarenko and John Moen, both of whom are on great form here. It is an expansive rock album and the quality of the songs is easily matched by the energy of the playing, Moen’s drumming has never sounded better and Slusarenko is proving to be the best musical partner for Pollard since Doug Gillard.

The album echoes a number of Pollard’s favourite classic acts, the Beatles are in there, but it is The Who that are the most obvious influence. That taken into account it has the Pollard stamp throughout and you can’t imagine anyone else producing a record quite like this now, or any time in the last 30 years.

Alongside the offbeat rockers, punky stompers and proggy jams, all featured here, are some great pop numbers. Best of these is the catchy ‘Make a Record for Lo-Life’, the sort of song that makes you sad that you’ll probably never get the chance to see it live (unless an unlikely UK tour surfaces). Bob even gets his groove on with the excellent ‘Chevy Marigold’ with soulful backing vocals from Tahoe Jackson being a perfect vocal partner.

Jackson is just one of the many well selected guest artists on the record, most of whom add guitar to the record. ‘You Just Can’t Tell’ features Colin Newman adding that 1970s Wire sound, Dream Syndicate man Steve Wynn trippily solos on ‘I Took on the London Guys’ making it sound like the Byrds at their most psychedelic. Classic line-up GBV axeman Mitch Mitchell gets a typically scrappy solo on ‘You In My Prayer’, fresh from the recent reunion gigs. Best of all is the typically big guitar solo from J Mascis at the end of ‘Tourist U.F.O.’, it couldn’t be played by anyone else and fits perfectly with the mood of the song.

Guest spots aside, the real reason why this is such an excellent album is the high quality of songs and playing throughout the album. It sounds like a classic four sided record, each side has an identity but the whole album holds together brilliantly. Spin, in a review that seems to have been written by someone who has only half listened to the album, seems shocked by the albums 26 song length. That shows a lack of understanding of Pollard’s back catalogue, it is more common than not for his albums to exceed the 20 song mark, and ignores the fact that this is a record that dips less than anything else he has produced in years.

It is a big, ambitious, energetic album and most artists would kill to be this exciting five albums into their career, let alone with their fifth release of the year (and it isn’t over yet with a Circus Devils album scheduled for October). The best album of the year? Possibly. The best guitar rock album of the year? Definitely. The kind of album that makes you want to throw caution to the wind, open the windows and turn the volume up real loud and one that deserves a caution free score.

10/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Boston Spaceships – Zero To 99

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Joe

‘Let It Rest For A Little While’ song 36 on Zero To 99, the latest release by Robert Pollard’s Boston Spaceships, is actually song 6 but subject to an eccentric numbering system. It is also possibly the best thing that Peter Buck has played guitar on for about a decade.

Zero To 99 continues Pollard’s run of form in 2009, and is his 6th album (in a multitude of guises) of the year. It is an assured set of Whoesque pop-rock and contains typically great Pollard songs, played extremely well by his backing band of Chris Slusarenko and John Moen.

Like any Pollard album there are a couple of songs that don’t quite hit the mark, but the overall hit rate is high. ‘How Wrong You Are’ is typical Pollard greatness and deserves the radio play it has achieved on 6 music. The aforementioned ‘Let It Rest For A Little While’ is as good as guitar pop gets, and follows on from the brilliant ‘Question Girl Alright’ (a song that would have sat happily on a late period Guided By Voices album).

‘The Comedian’ is probably the most Who influenced song on the album and also my favourite track. In fact I would argue that Pollard can do the Who better than the Who have been able to for the last 20 years.

The album also finds Pollard in great voice. He is known for his song writing and live performance, but he is also a very effective, and effecting, singer.

Three albums in a year and Boston Spaceships are producing some of the best music of Pollards career. For me it is a late contender for album of the year.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers, Nov 2009.

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