Tag Archive | "Guided By Voices"

Introducing… Eyelids OR

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Introducing… Eyelids OR

Posted on 25 January 2017 by Dorian

We’re not really introducing Eyelids OR (or just Eyelids in their homeland) as we have been going on about the band for some time.

We reviewed their debut album 854 back in 2014, and we’ve been raving about their subsequent single releases ever since.

However the band have just announced their first ever UK dates, supporting Drive-By Truckers, so it seemed to be the perfect time to catch up with the band’s songwriters, Chris Slusarenko and John Moen, to find out a bit more about the band.

You have been playing together for years. How did you meet?

JOHN: Chris and I met as young guys playing music in Portland. I moved to town in 1986 just after graduating from high school. Our bands played together here and there, but I especially remember being introduced by the cartoonist, Joe Sacco at a cafe. We were both skinnier then. I was bleaching my hair to stand out, and Chris wore a beret. I think we were both carrying satchels full of poetry.

Why Eyelids? (and how do you come up with band names? How do you top Death Midget?)

CHRIS: Well Death Midget was born out of innocence and teenage years. Plus it was the era of Butthole Surfers, Killdozer… So it fit our mess. To tell you the truth I’ve rarely got to name a band I’ve been in and I always thought Guided By Voices was one of the greatest band names of all time so it was special to be part of that. But names are tough… Eyelids (with an Or attached for our home state of Oregon—blessed on us via Tim Burgess of The Charlatans UK) just seemed to sound like our music a bit. A bit hazy, a bit eye-opening… It so weird when I stop to think about the word “eyelids” it just starts to fold in on itself… Once you’re the name you rarely stop to think of what it means anymore… it just becomes you.

Eyelids

You’ve both been in the background in some great bands, How do you feel about being the front-men?

JOHN: I think it’s terrifying, but it’s also kind of hard to resist. It seems there’s a fine line between “rocking-out” and looking like you’re about to die. Chris does most of the talking, thank goodness.

CHRIS: I can’t help the banter!!! Singing with Jonathan and John is easy–they come up with great ideas and I’m always surprised to hear harmonies. All my earlier bands never had them!!! Argh…so nice to have finally! And since John and myself both sing and write the songs it’s a nice back and forth between us live as well. I do like to rock out and look like I’m going to die so I’ll take that position for the band…everyone else can look cool. I’ll sweat it out…!

I first came across you from your work with Robert Pollard in Boston Spaceships. He’s a ten album a year kind of guy. How do you keep up? (Both in the recording and the drinking)

CHRIS: Well you just gladly jump in. Part of Bob’s work ethic definitely had an effect on John and myself and was the reason that we both realized we worked really well together. Since Bob would send us a cassette of him singing and playing guitar John and myself had to quickly help create the album he wanted (knowing full well there was another EP or LP or double LP breathing down your neck right behind it). I really wanted to go back to way early GBV worked. Not letting the “band” know the song very well and just get inspired takes before over thinking it. That has kind of flowed over into Eyelids where often the first ideas we play over someone else’s song tend to be the ones we use. Just letting your mind and fingers drift… none of us are what you’d call smoking guitar players but we do love our riffs and hooks. As many as we can pile on we will. And in terms of releases with the upcoming RSD 7” we’re doing with Gary of the Cribs singing lead and the full length in May that will be 5 7”s, a 12” Ep, and 2 full lengths in under 3 years… not too shabby. And we have 4 songs already finished for our next EP as well.

854 was one of our favourite albums of 2015 (and 2016 when it came out in the UK). How do you follow that on your second album?

CHRIS: This is actually the only second album I’ve ever made that I’ve been a principal songwriter in besides The Takeovers albums I did with Bob (Chris performed and wrote all the music, Robert Pollard sang and wrote lyrics). So it’s kind of abstract to think about what a 2nd album means for us. The first album was made with John, Jonathan and myself as a recording project/dare. But after we put a full band together to play the songs live a different character came into it as well. The EP we did after 854 reflects that pretty well. It rocks a little more but still has that weepy quality that I like. The new album was the first one where all 5 of us were there from the beginning and it was pretty exciting to hear that. For example I was playing a new song to everyone called “Moony”. It’s kind of a pretty looping type feel. But then John and Jonathan started adding this cool Television type interplay and Paulie and Jim were playing this XTC Black Sea area drumbeat and I was so happy. My simple little phrase all the sudden had an unexpected life pumped into it.

Peter Buck is producing for you, how did you come to work with him?

JOHN: Peter moved to Portland several years ago, and he is very generous with his time and talents. We are connected through Scott McCaughey who played in REM, and was instrumental in helping my first recording/touring band, Dharma Bums. Scott produced that bands first record and encouraged us in many ways. Peter has played guitar on a Decemberists record, as well, and he would come into Chris’s video store fairly often, where they got to know one another. Also, Chris was pretty heavy into the REM fan club in the old days. I believe he and Peter corresponded. All that to say, we are huge fans and we had to ask him to produce!

CHRIS: Yeah I wrote to R.E.M. right before Murmur was released and Peter was kind enough to write back. We wrote back and forth about 3 years after that. They’d send me reject photos, weird old posters, chronic town t-shirts that were bootlegs. Very generous. He told me they always wrote to anyone where the hadn’t played yet figuring someone in NY or Chicago would find their way. But at the time they were thinking “what the hell is Portland?” Then we re-connected as adults and it’s been a great friendship. And in terms of producing you really want to do well when he’s in the room! No waste ya know!!! He’s got great ideas and he’s been great to work with.

You also have a Record Store Day release with Gary Jarman of The Cribs on vocals, how did you come to pick him for the track?

CHRIS: I’d written some music for Robert Pollard to sing over called The Carbon Whales. It was a fake UK Post-Punk band—like a lost EP that he released. Gary heard it and said it was so convincing and true to the spirit of the original era—he loved it. So when we wanted to do another Record Store Day 7” I wanted to do something that would stand alone. So many RSD releases these days are live tracks or reissues. I wanted something that was made specifically for this event. So we thought it would be cool to have a Gary and his intense Wakefield accent sing lead on both tracks. He’s got such an amazing voice and delivery. It was perfect. I wrote the songs as I would have when I was 17. Kind of innocent but full of confidence. The lyrics I banged out really quick too. Then we all just played on it and had Gary come in and it became a real thing. The 7” is called Eyelids Meet Gary Jarman.

Eyelids Live

Your dates with Drive-By Truckers are your first gigs in the UK. What should we expect from an Eyelids live show?

JOHN: Jet lagged American imperialists, of course! Ha. We are a rock band trying to play pretty… Sounds terrible, right? I really don’t know… I’m sure we will be a bit giddy to be playing with the Truckers(amazing!) in such killer venues. As a band, I think we are good at enjoying the moment together, and that energy( along with the songs that we are quite proud of) translates as a good time to those watching and listening.

CHRIS: I never get tired of playing out and to finally get to play these songs overseas will be incredible. Live I think we’re pretty kick ass so hopefully people will be ready for the songs to be amped up a bit. Pretty and loud. Also I’m a total anglophile in terms of music, film, books… For instance we’re doing an in-store at Rough Trade Records and to me as someone all the way over here on the West Coast of the U.S. it still makes me flutter my eyelids… can’t help it…

If you had to sell Eyelids to someone who had never heard you play before, how would you describe the band?

JOHN: I often dream of not being a salesperson… but, if cornered, I would say that we are a melodic rock band that wouldn’t mind being thought of as an (inclusive) art project. We are strong enough that your weird uncle won’t think we suck, but are soft enough to remind you of that rare house cat that will allow you to stroke its belly. There you go.

CHRIS: What he said.

Chris and John were interviewed by Dorian Rogers

Tickets for the band’s shows with Drive-By Truckers are available here.

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Robert Pollard – Of Course You Are

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Robert Pollard – Of Course You Are

Posted on 07 March 2016 by Dorian

2016 is already proving to be a slightly confusing year for followers of Robert Pollard. He recently announced that Guided By Voices were reforming with a largely new line-up, only drummer Kevin March having been in a previous incarnation. That announcement was accompanied by news that the new Guided By Voices album would be a totally solo affair by Pollard. He then springs a new solo album upon us that is the first for over a decade to not be recorded with Todd Tobias on instrument and production duties. In his place, handling all instruments and the recording desk, is Nick Mitchell, his Ricked Wicky side-man  and newly announced guitarist in the live GBV line-up.

Robert-Pollard-Of-Course-You-Are

As typically muddled as this may be it is good news. Mitchell has proved to be a great foil for Pollard on the Ricked Wicky albums and is clearly a first-rate guitarist. It is also true that a degree of saminess had crept in to the albums that Pollard and Tobias were producing – these were good records but you knew largely what they would sound like.

What Mitchell immediately brings to the party is a harder rock edge, and this is immediately brought out on the opening track ‘My Daughter Yes She Knows’ which is riff heavy and unafraid of classic rock cliché. He brings more to the album than guitars though and the arrangements on this album are as adventurous as anything Pollard has produced with strings, horns and keyboards having a noticeable presence on a number of tracks.

Pollard has always been at his best when working with a like-minded instrumentalist and much like Tobin Sprout, Doug Gillard and Chris Slusarenko it looks like Mitchell is bringing the best out of Pollard’s song-writing as well as offering up his guitar skills. The songs on the album are all of a surprisingly high standard for someone who releases so many and there is a good mixture of styles on show across the 12 tracks. There is a slight bias towards the more rocking guitar songs but there is time for some sweet ballads and hook filled pop tunes as well.

The real thing that makes this album work so well though is the variety of arrangement, not just between but within the songs. Listen to the horns on ‘Little Pigs’ or the Love-esque horns/strings/guitar burst in ‘I Can Illustrate’ and you can imagine how much fun was had bringing these songs together.

Best of all is the album closer, and title track, which demonstrates Pollard’s unmistakable gift for crafting tunes that could have been recorded any time in the last five decades.

This is Pollard’s 22nd solo album and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Expect number 23 to be announced any day.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Eyelids OR – 854

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Eyelids OR – 854

Posted on 04 October 2015 by Dorian

Nearly a year ago we reviewed the debut album 854 by the Oregon band Eyelids, and it was one of our favourite releases of the year. The band have added the “OR” part to their name for this release to avoid confusion with another act and signed to Charlatan Tim Burgess’s Ogenesis label.

Eyelids OR 854

You can read the full review of the album which sounds even better 12 months later. If you buy 854 on a physical format you also get 6 bonus tracks to enjoy. Only one of these is a new Eyelids original, the other being covers plus an alternate take of ‘Psych #1’, but they are definitely worth a listen.

Fingers crossed that the long awaited UK release of the album will lead to a tour on these shores some time soon. Watch this space for Eyelids news as we get it.

By Dorian Rogers

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Top 10 – Superhero Songs

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Top 10 – Superhero Songs

Posted on 11 September 2015 by Dorian

Over the last decade films and TV shows about comic book heroes have become more and more popular. This trend shows no sign of slowing down and with the brilliant Daredevil TV show and the supremely entertaining Ant-Man movie 2015 is looking like a pretty good year.

Here at Neon Filler we’re big fans of comics, and it is hard to argue with Superheroes as being the predominant and most iconic images of the medium. Here, in celebration of our favourite spandex clad characters, we present the Top 10 songs about Superheroes.

10. The Wedding Present – Flame On

The Wedding Present are one of the only bands to have their own comic book, so this Watusi era b-side, with a Human Torch theme, is no surprise from Mr.Gedge.


9. XTC – That’s Really Super Supergirl

XTC (sort of) appear twice in this chart and this charming tune from Skylarking is their first appearance.


8. Guided By Voices – Matter Eater Lad

With thousands of Guided By Voices songs recorded it is inevitable that comic books get a mention, the choice of one of the more obscure DC characters fits the band to perfection.


7. The Clique – (I am) Superman

This 1969 track is better known as sung by REM nearly 20 years later and is the first appearance in our chart by the first superhero.


6. Wings – Magneto and Titanium Man

Who knew that Macca was a comic’s enthusiast that invited Jack Kirby to a Wings show? Not many people, and even less have heard this Venus and Mars era b-side about some iconic Marvel villains. Also a song that has a surprising (if passing) similarity to Belle and Sebastian’s ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’.


5. Robert Pollard – Faulty Superheroes

The title track from Pollard’s latest solo album is not character-specific but still one of the best super-themed songs on record.


4. Darren Hayman – Spiderman beats Iron Man

One of the best songs from the excellent Essex Arms, and manages to reference a number of top-flight heroes as well as Top Trumps, which can only be a good thing.


3. The Dukes of the Stratosphere – Braniac’s Daughter

XTC’s psychedelic alter-egos make little sense with this tune about the super-villain’s progeny, but lots of great lines and references hide within.


2. The Flaming Lips – Waiting For Superman

It is no surprise that Superman gets more references in song than other heroes (see also Laurie Anderson) and this track from Wayne and co. has to be the best.


1. The Trait – Nobody Loves The Hulk

Researching a post like this is fun in itself and also also helps discover some previously unheard tracks, from unheard-of artists. This 1969 garage track is brilliant from start to finish. “We don’t allow no green skinned people in here!” indeed.

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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Robert Pollard – Faulty Superheroes

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Robert Pollard – Faulty Superheroes

Posted on 26 May 2015 by Dorian

Like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts I too love rock and roll. But sometimes the idea of putting another dime in the juke box baby fills me with horror. Then just when you’d almost given up hope an album comes along and renews your faith in rock and roll. This is that album.

Robert Pollard - Faulty Superheroes

This album has all the good stuff that you hope for in a Bob Pollard release, with none of the more frustrating elements. Catchy off-kilter alt-rock? Check. The title track and ‘Up and Up and Up’ deliver that wonderfully. You want some oblique lyrics and British Invasion classic rock? Well howsabout ‘Take Me To Yolita’ or ‘You Only Need Me’. Inclined towards a galloping bit of proper post-punk? Skip forward to ‘Mozart’s Throne’. Stick around until the end and you get to sign-of with the pretty acoustic psyche-folk of ‘Perikeet Vista’. Even better, there are none of the sludgier tracks or tuneless noise-pieces that have upset the flow of even his better solo outings in the last decade.

I always enjoy a lazy comparison with a Guided By Voices album and for this release I choose Earthquake Glue, which is an album that has been a little overlooked in the GBV discography.

Sure there are a number of songs that sound like other Bob Pollard songs. So what? He releases 10 albums a year. It is easy to reinvent yourself if you are Radiohead and can only muster one album every four years or so. Lazy he is not, and this album perfectly captures his obvious love of writing and recording music.

The other thing is that however much he sounds like himself, he doesn’t really sound like anyone else. The Who influence is there, track one has that REM vibe he loves (possibly his most REM-y track since the 1986 debut Guided By Voices EP)  and the Beatles make an appearance, but all in all it sounds like Bob Pollard in a way that nothing else does.

It is also a really well played album, the band all earning their recording fees on this one. Kevin March is reliable as ever behind the drums and this album features some of Todd Tobias’s best guitar playing on a Pollard solo effort. ‘Cafe Of Elimination’ features a proper bit of alt-rock guitar soloing and ‘Photo Enforced Human Highway’ just sounds great, faux-flute keyboards and all (and is perhaps the finest song on the whole record).

Typically I give Pollard’s albums a good review, whatever guise they might appear in, but I’m normally cautious to recommend them. They are not always easy listens, and the erratic quality can be off-putting to the uninitiated. Faulty Superheroes however I can recommend wholeheartedly. It is simply 12 excellent songs and a very easy album to enjoy. Coming off the back of the similarly excellent Ricked Wicky album this could prove to be a bit of a golden year for an artist that undoubtedly has a lot more music up his sleeve.

I love rock and roll. This is rock and roll.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Ricked Wicky – I Sell the Circus

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Ricked Wicky – I Sell the Circus

Posted on 16 January 2015 by Dorian

2014 was one of the most up and down years in all my 20+ listening to the music of Robert Pollard. The ups included two first rate albums by the rejuvenated Guided By Voices. The downs included the collapse (again) of Guided By Voices and a rare Robert Pollard album that I couldn’t get along with, under his Teenage Guitar moniker.

It is hard to say what 2015 will bring, or indeed just how many records he will release, but the release of his first album as Ricked Wicky is a pretty stellar start to the year.

Ricked Wicky I Sell The Circus

I Sell the Circus sees Pollard teamed with regulars Todd Tobias and Kevin March as well as Dayton based cover band professional Nick Mitchell. It also sees him producing my favourite non-GBV recording since he called it a day with Boston Spaceships.

It is the Yin to Teenage Guitar’s Yang, showcasing the other side of Robert Pollard’s album style. Where that album was all fuzz and crackle, this is a surprisingly well produced record, where that album was half-formed ideas and snippets this is a set of fully formed psych-pop classics.

It is a remarkably consistent, by Pollard’s standards at least, with no duff tracks on the album. It is also a very well sequenced album, with no risk of front loading the standout tracks. These alternate universe radio favourites are peppered through the album and surprisingly strong for an artist roughly 1 billion tracks into his career.

The attractively titled ‘Piss Face’, completed with distorted slide guitar, is the kind of off-kilter rock that Boston Spaceships exceled at. This is followed immediately by the acoustic ‘Even Today and Tomorrow’ which is what Love might have sounded like if they were fronted by a sozzled former school-teacher rather than Arthur Lee.

‘Frenzy of Blame’ is the most obvious “pop song” on the album, and in the great tradition of Pollard casually throwing in a classic two-thirds of the way through an album. To the converted this will come as no surprise but whether the uneducated will ever take the time to listen to this album is another question.

Pollard is surely at peace with his place in the musical world, his days of employing star name producers to push his albums a distant memory. In fact he sounds like he is having more fun on this album than he has for a long time. Album closer ‘A Real Slab’ is a case in point as Pollard and co. knock out three and a half minutes of the best Who song the Who never recorded.

If Pollard was to bring out a dozen even better albums this year it wouldn’t be a surprise, but if this is the last record we see from him in 2015 it would be more than enough.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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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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Guided By Voices – Closed For Business

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Guided By Voices – Closed For Business

Posted on 22 September 2014 by Dorian

So, Guided By Voices have split again, as announced a couple of days ago via their Facebook page and website. The second time they have formally split, the first being in 2004, and the end of the second edition of the “classic line-up”.

GBV Closed

In this second version they never made it to the UK, an aborted ATP show was the closest they got, and I have my doubts that Bob Pollard will ever return to these shores in any musical guise.

The Guardian responded to the news with an article asking if it was possible to pick the five best songs by the band. I have tried this task and found that there are just too many songs to make that possible. I decided to scale down the task; so here (in no particular order) are my top five from the six “comeback” albums.

Doughnut For A Snowman

Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere

Planet Score

Bad Love Is Easy To Do

Waving At Airplanes

By Dorian Rogers

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Guided By Voices – Cool Planet

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Guided By Voices – Cool Planet

Posted on 24 May 2014 by Dorian

With the dizzying regularity of Guided By Voices releases I struggle to think of ways to make reviewing them interesting. In the interest of variety I’m basically going to side-step the issue by reviewing the album launch party held at the Lexington in London.

Stewart Lee

The evening was compered by Stewart Lee, the stand-up comic is a big music fan and has made no secret of his love of the work of Robert Pollard. Disappointingly he declined to offer up any comedy during the evening, choosing instead to run a very tricky GBV trivia quiz between bands. He was a genial and enthusiastic host, giving the bands some positive support and even taking part on the mosh-pit (albeit briefly). He was accompanied in the audience by Kevin Eldon, who stayed clear of the flayling arms and legs of the enthusiastic crowd.

Band of Pricks

First up on stage was the GBV tribute act band of Pricks. In the absence of the real band, who seem less and less likely to ever play in the UK, this is nthe closest you’ll get to seeing Bob and the boys play live. They sounded great, and the choice of songs was pretty perfect with a mixture of favourites, EP tracks and oddities delighting the partisan crowd. They were joined by super-fan paddy Considine (more of him later) for a few tracks, and he had all the moves down perfectly. The singing drummer was a bit of a star and they definitely could have played for longer judging by the chants from the crowd when they finished.

Fawn Spots

Next up was Fawn Spots, a much noisier and more abrasive proposition. Just two guitars and drums (bass players increasingly out of fashion) they tore through a set largely made up of their own tunes. Technical hitches aside they sounded pretty good, but it was the Guided By Voices covers they also added that went down best with the crowd.

Riding the Low

Headlining the night was Paddy Considine’s band Riding the Low. The actor takes his music very seriously, and he is a pretty impressive front-man. He has clearly studied the moves of Robert Pollard, as well as the granddaddy of it all Roger Daltrey, and he wasn’t shy about striking a pose during the set. The band played very well, the musicianship probably the best of the night, and the songs were decent. I don’t have any urge to buy their album, but it was an enjoyable way to spend an evening. In keeping with the theme of the night they closed proceedings with a handful of Guided By Voices tracks including a note perfect rendition of ‘The Girls of Wild Strawberries’.

So, I guess I can’t write a review of the Cool Planet album and not mention it at all. The summary is that it is another good Guided By Voices album, with a mixture of tracks varying in quality – nothing surprising here. Tobin Sprout is on great form, offering his best set of songs for a while,  and ‘Psychotic Crush’ is one of the most enjoyable tracks on the album.

It isn’t quite as enjoyable a set as Motivational Jumpsuit and Robert Pollard’s writing is a little bit uneven, even by his own typically uneven standards. Given that he manages to deliver a large handful of top quality rockers. ‘Bad Love Is Easy To Do’ is just perfect and any album that opens with a song as strong as ‘Authoritarian Zoo’ is worth 30 minutes of your time.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Guided By Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit

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Guided By Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit

Posted on 04 March 2014 by Dorian

Motivational Jumpsuit is the first Guided By Voices album since “drumgate” and as such slightly less of a classic line-up album than their previous post-reunion releases. Changes on the drum stool aside this is an album that continues the general style of the last four releases and may well be the strongest of the bunch.

Motivational Jumpsuit

At first I struggled with the album, it seemed very straight and focused but lacking in anything to really grab my attention. Coming back to it a few weeks later my response couldn’t have been more different. To start with the album opens with ‘The Littlest League Possible’ a perfect 80 seconds of psyche-punk-pop reflecting on being a cult musical concern. It is followed by ‘Until Next Time’ which proves to be one of those proper lo-fi low off-key gems that could be on pretty much any GBV album since the band started.

Importantly, because it indicates a confidence in Pollard’s writing, this album has a couple of bona fide classic singles. ‘Vote For Me Dummy’ may be the albums key track and sounds like a lost recording from the ‘Earthquake Glue’ album. (It is the common wisdom that the original “classic line-up” albums are where to go when listening to GBV and that things went downhill after that line-up split. I tend to disagree. Sure Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes are brilliant but I love Mag Earwig, Isolation Drills and Earthquake Glue almost as much. I’d take them over the last classic line-up album, Under The Bushes Under the Stars, any day of the week.)

The other great pop single on the album is ‘Planet Score and even has a video starring Breaking Bad’s Matt L. Jones. This song is one of those alternative reality chart hits that makes me wish I had control of the Radio 1 playlist.

Tobin Sprout also has a lot to offer, he has fully settled back into his role on these albums, playing Colin Moulding to Pollard’s Andy Partridge. The wistful 60s influenced ‘Jupiter Spin’ alone makes his contribution worthwhile. His songs add a balance to Pollard’s tracks and that is one good reason why this line-up of the band works so well.

Even as a committed fan I sometimes struggle to keep up with, and process, Pollard’s frenetic output.  There are likely to be more GBV albums coming this year and keeping up is my problem and not theirs. If the next album is as engaging and fresh as this one then bring it on.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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