Saturday, December 31, 2005

Guided By Voices: Static Airplane Jive (1993)

I do not yet own Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer due to it's extreme rareness, for if I did I would be able to review it at around this time. I have heard a couple of tracks such as Matter Eater Lad and Johnny Appleseed either live or through MP3s available on GBV's website. From what I have heard, and from a question I posted on Disarm the Settlers, I would guess it is among the worst of GBV's EPs. However, I do have Static Airplane Jive. I suggest you keep in mind that I have yet to hear Clown Prince when I say that this is my least listened to release by Guided By Voices...

Friday, December 30, 2005

Guided By Voices: Fast Japanese Spin Cycle (1993)

Fast Japanese Spin Cycle is for the most part a required listen for any Guided By Voices fan. One of GBV's better EPs, it contains fan favorite My Impression Now, Vampire on Titus variants Marchers in Orange and Dusted, Propeller variant Kisses to the Crying Cooks (Over the Neptune), and a couple of other pretty cool tracks. That mixed with the fact that it is readily available for a fairly cheap price, there is no reason anyone who considers him/herself a Pollard fan should not have Fast Japanese Spin Cycle...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Added new chatbox

I added a chatbox on the sidebar today so visitors can leave comments on GBV/Robert Pollard in general...or I guess anything else really. I will continue adding entries to the guide soon, likely at the start of the new year. See you later.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas and See You in '06!

Well, the usual Christmas craziness is about to begin so I'm taking a break until the new year, and taking time to visit with friends and family. Merry Christmas and happy New Year, and I'll see you all again in 2006, when I will continue working on the GBV Guide!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Guided By Voices: Vampire on Titus (1993)

I don't think it is even possible to enjoy the majority of Vampire on Titus on the first listen, as it takes Guided By Voices' lo-fi sound to the extreme. It is a mix of some of GBV's heaviest songs and some slower numbers. The heavy tracks have great guitar parts, but are plagued by the tinniest, hard-to-hear vocals. Some may consider the vocal quality as endearing for GBV, but in fact it really does take away from the songs, mainly due to the fact that these are some of the best cuts in GBV's catalog. After a couple of listens, you should be able to hear the melody hidden behind the fuzz. The acoustic tracks are also lo-fi, but with better sounding vocals...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Guided By Voices: The Grand Hour (EP) (1993)

Released on Scat shortly after Propeller, The Grand Hour would be the first Guided By Voices release to really show the world their lo-fi sound. Clocking in at around six minutes or so, this six track EP is for the most part unspectacular. It is mostly known for having two tracks with titles which would soon become album titles (Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand), and for being the home for one of GBV's biggest hits, Shocker in Gloomtown. It also includes a track (Off the Floor) which starts with the riff from the upcoming Hot Freaks. Therefore, The Grand Hour is aimed directly at the collector. And since Shocker in Gloomtown is also available in the Best of compilation, Human Amusements at Hourly Rates (available on its own and in the Hardcore UFOs box set), the best reason to buy this may be its cheap price...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Guided By Voices: Propeller (1992)

Two words: Weed King. Guided By Voices' breakthrough album Propeller is one stadium track after another. Other than one throwaway, Propeller is great all the way through, and any fan who claims it is the ultimate GBV album would have some choice cuts to back that claim. Not quite totally lo-fi yet, Propeller is the nicest sounding album until Under the Bushes Under the Stars shows up in 1996. Did I mention Weed King yet? This song has the greatest claim to the Best of album released in 2003 of those tracks not selected. A song with four distinct parts that build on top of each other until the very end when you are left helpless against the urge to play air guitar while Pollard sings "for the dreams of the Weed King we all sing"...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Guided By Voices: Same Place the Fly Got Smashed (1990)

From what I've read on various web sites, Same Place the Fly Got Smashed is a concept album about drinking. One could likely figure this out for themselves, since the first two tracks both refer to drinking/alcoholics, and the fourth track is even called Drinker's Peace. This record is similar to Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia, but with a larger focus on straight-forward rockers, and less weirdness (though, there is some weirdness). The secret to the greatness of Same Place the Fly Got Smashed is how the "bad" songs, which do not work on their own, still enhance the theme of the album. As far as I'm concerned there are two albums in Same Place the Fly Got Smashed; the straight up old-school rock and roll record, and the odd lo-fi ramblings found intermittingly between the gold...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Guided By Voices: Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia (1989)

Okay, let me just say it; Guided By Voices really don't get going on all cylinders until Propeller. That being said, there are many fans of the band that consider Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia among their favorites (as well as the next release Same Place the Fly Got Smashed). I do consider Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia as the first album to have the GBV sound, whereas the previous two releases (Devil Between My Toes and Sandbox) sounded like a completely different band. Since I am doing this guide in a somewhat cronological order, it is safe to say this record is Guided By Voices' best yet (as of 1989), and may be the best reason to pick up the Box boxset...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Guided By Voices: Sandbox (1987)

1987 would see Guided By Voices release a second LP. In what would be one of GBV's dullest covers, would also be one of their most lackluster efforts. Even Robert Pollard felt that Sandbox was one of GBV's worst. Keep in mind though, that when we refer to GBV's worst, it is usually in consideration of what we expect from the band. Sandbox would be a mediocre album for any band, but for the standard we have come to expect from Robert Pollard, it becomes a greater letdown. With a similar lineup as that for Devil Between My Toes (review here), GBV went for a more standard straight forward rock and roll. The majority of Sandbox sounds like the least interesting tracks from Devil Between My Toes (I am referring to Dog's Out, Hank's Little Fingers, and Hey Hey Spaceman). We all know Robert Pollard can write a fairly decent rock track, but it is the slight oddness which he would later add to albums such as Propeller and Bee Thousand which makes his music transcend the usual rock fare...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Guided By Voices: Devil Between My Toes (1987)

In 1987, Guided By Voices released their first record. The lineup during this era included Robert Pollard on vocals/guitar, Mitch Mitchell on bass, Jim Pollard, Tobin Sprout, and Steve Wilbur playing guitar, and Kevin Fennell on drums. This was not, however, GBV's first release on Scat. Forever Since Breakfast, an EP, was released prior to this. I will cover that EP when I get to the Hardcore UFO's box set. Currently, the only way to get this album is in the Box box set, which contains the first four GBV releases as well as a rarities disc. Chances are if you are a fan of GBV, however, it is not because of this album...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Jim Greer: Guided By Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll (2005)

I started reading this book at around 2:00pm yesterday, and finished at around midnight. I also got in some supper and an episode of Farscape during that time. It contains a short introduction by Steven Soderbergh (for whom Robert Pollard did the soundtrack to his upcoming film Bubble), about 215 pages of actual text, a couple pages of black and white photos, a GBV family tree, and an extensive discography and gigography. I am not sure how much new information there is for someone who followed the band during their entire career, but for someone such as myself who has learned of GBV somewhat recently, there was tons of info. If there is anything to be learned from this book, it is this: Robert Pollard is an extremely hard person to get along with. I should also note that the book comes with a fairly huge bias. The author (James Greer) obviously already thinks the world of Guided By Voices and Robert Pollard, so I see it as a book mostly for fans...