January 14, 2012

Playlist Week of 1-14-12

The Return of GBV

* Vivaldi: “Manchester” Sonatas (Romanesca) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Handel: Trio Sonatas Op.2 & Op.5 (Academy of Ancient Music/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue (Columbia/Legacy SACD)
* Bobby Hutcherson: Stick-Up! (Blue Note CD)
* Sun Ra: Cosmos (Cobra/Spalax CD)
* Sun Ra: Chateauvallon, France 8-25-76 (d.1)(AUD 3CDR)
* Bob Dylan: Infidels (Columbia SACD)
* Bob Dylan: Oh Mercy (Columbia SACD)
* Bob Dylan: “Love And Theft” (Columbia SACD)
* Grateful Dead: Wembley Empire Pool, London, England 4/7/72 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 4/14/72 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 4/17/72 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* Jerry Garcia Band: How Sweet It Is… (GDP/Arista HDCD)
* Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin: Love Devotion Surrender (Columbia/Legacy CD)
* Joni Mitchell: Hejira (Asylum HDCD)
* Joni Mitchell: Painting With Words And Music (Insight/Eagle Rock DVD)
* Crosby Stills & Nash: Crosby Stills & Nash (Atlantic/Audio Fidelity CD)
* Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball (Elektra/Asylum HDCD)
* Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol SACD)
* Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (Experience Edition) (d.1) (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Genesis: Live (Charisma LP)
* Genesis: Selling England By The Pound (Charisma LP)
* Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Atco/Classic 2LP)
* Phil Collins: Face Value (Atlantic/Audio Fidelity CD)
* Phil Collins: Hello, I Must Be Going! (Atlantic/Audio Fidelity CD)
* Steely Dan: Gaucho (MCA DVD-A)
* U2: Achtung Baby (Deluxe Edition) (d.1) (Island/Universal 2CD)
* U2: Zooropa (Island CD)
* Wipers: Box Set (d.1)(Zeno 3CD)†
* Guided By Voices: Let’s Go Eat The Factory (GBV, Inc. LP/CD)
* Guided By Voices: “Doughnut For A Snowman” (side B) (Fire 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Chocolate Boy” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Wilco: Kicking Television: Live In Chicago (Nonesuch 4LP)
* Opeth: Orchid (Candlelight CD)†
* Opeth: Morningrise (Candlelight CD)†
* Opeth: My Arms, Your Hearse (Candlelight CD)†
* Opeth: Still Life (Peaceville/Icarus CD)†
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/Koch CD)†
* Opeth: Deliverance (Music For Nations/Koch CD)†
* Opeth: Damnation (Music For Nations/Koch CD)†/‡
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner CD)†(‡)
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD)†(‡)
* Opeth: Live In Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (Roadrunner 2DVD/3CD)
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Deadwing (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Fear Of A Blank Planet (Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Nil Recurring (Transmission/KScope CDEP)(†)
* Porcupine Tree: The Incident (Roadrunner CD)†
* Steven Wilson: Grace For Drowning (KScope 2CD)†
* Ray LaMontagne: Till The Sun Turns Black (RCA/Legacy LP)
* Ray LaMontagne: Gossip In The Grain (RCA/Legacy 2LP)



When the so-called “classic lineup” of Guided By Voices reunited in 2010 for a one-off performance to celebrate Matador Records’ Twenty-First Anniversary, they apparently found it enjoyable enough to do a few more concerts—which then led to a full-blown, year-long tour. Six years after Robert Pollard retired the name and fourteen years since this particular grouping (with Tobin Sprout on guitar and vocals, Mitch Mitchell (no, not that Mitch Mitchell!) on lead guitar, Greg Demos on bass and Kevin Fennell on drums), it was a nothing less than the miraculous rebirth of a legendary band. With the accolades they were receiving for their live shows, it only made sense for the reunited band to make a record, possibly rekindling the magic that made those old GBV albums like Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes so classic to begin with. To that end, the band returned to the homegrown lo-fi recording techniques and spontaneous, collagist songwriting approaches which defined those particular albums. Let’s Go Eat The Factory is the result and, while not quite the equal of those classic discs from the 1990s, it’s a surprisingly edgy, experimental-sounding record—a brave effort for what could have been an easy cash-in on their well-deserved victory lap.

In typical record-obsessed fashion, three seven-inch singles were released on three different labels in anticipation of the album’s January 1 release date, with the double-A sided “We Won’t Apologize For The Human Race”/ “The Unsinkable fats Domino” coming out on Matador; the UK label Fire Records getting “Doughnut For A Snowman” (with four B-sides); and, finally, Pollard's own GBV, Inc. putting out “Chocolate Boy” b/w Sprout’s lovely B-side, “As The Girls Sing Downing,” pressed on heavyweight chocolate colored vinyl that looks good enough to eat! All these songs are strange and fragmented (that’s a good thing) and, as usual, the picture sleeves feature Robert Pollard’s fantastical collages. But as cool as these singles are, the A-side songs seem to fit better within the context of the album proper—and Let’s Go Eat The Factory is a fine album that gets better with each listen.

The most striking thing is the return of Tobin Sprout, whose plaintive voice and quirky pop sensibilities always made for a welcome foil for Pollard’s cocksure, rock-god posturing. Some of the strongest songs on the album belong to Sprout, such as “Spider Fighter,” a chugging rocker that yields to a beautifully sad piano/vocal coda, or the arena rock spirituality of “God Loves Us”—and then there’s the pretty ballads, “Who Invented The Sun,” and “Old Bones.” Furthermore, Sprout also adds atmospheric samples and swooning keyboards to several tracks, giving these shambolic songs an orchestral sheen. Frankly, Sprout nearly steals the show. But Pollard sounds happy to be collaborating again with his old friends, playing guitar and singing with gusto, just like the old days. Even if there’s no obvious “hit” on the record, it sounds like they’re having fun just banging it out, being in a band. That makes Let’s Go Eat The Factory fun to listen to, twenty-two weird and wonderful songs in forty-two minutes—perfect on LP (which is housed in a gorgeous gatefold sleeve). “I challenge you to rock!” Pollard announces on “Either Nelson,” a Wire-ish punk number peppered with Sprout’s jazzy piano. We must enthusiastically accept his challenge! It’s never too late!

There was some uproar back in December when the GBV abruptly canceled their 2012 tour, leading to speculation that the band had broken up yet again. Rather, the band has recorded another album due out in the spring with yet another one in the works for the fall. Sounds like things are getting serious! Moreover, GBV performed “The Unsinkable Fats Domino” on The Late Show With David Letterman on January 3—a rare mass-media appearance and an opportunity to bring the band to a wider audience. Sadly, Demos took a nasty spill on stage—perhaps he was a bit too excited! Fortunately, he was uninjured and got up to complete the song like a true rock ’n’ roll hero. Predictably, Letterman had a field day with it. Check it out; it’s GBV who are truly unsinkable:

You can also download a FREE MP3 of “The Unsinkable Fats Domino” here. Good stuff!


Lesley said...

Did you get to see Porcupine Tree at City Hall when they were here promoting "Deadwing?

Rodger Coleman said...

@Lesley -- Sadly, I did not. Like along with Opeth, I am only now getting into them! Did you go? I bet they were great!

Sam said...

Hey, thanks for the GBV update and links! I enjoyed the Letterman clip immensely...didn't realize they moved around so much, heh heh.

Here are my lists for last week:

Playlist 2012-01-16:

*Beethoven: The Late String Quartets (Emerson String Quartet) disc 3
*Morton Feldman: Morton Feldman Festival 2008-02-09 Amsterdam Part 3 (CDR) disc 3
*Ad Hoc Quartet: 2011-11-26 Pyramid Atlantic (wav)
*Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Moscow) 2008
*Sylvie Courvoisier/Mary Halvorson/Ikue Mori: 2010-07-24 Whitney Museum of Modern Art (CDR)
*Andrew Hill: The Complete Blue Note Andrew Hill Sessions (1963-66) disc 6
*Andrew Hill: 2001-08-14 Saaldelden, Austria (CDR)
*Evan Parker + Barry Guy + Paul Lovens + Walter Prati + Furt: 2010-09-26 Venice (CDR)
*Colla Parte: 2011-11-11 (wav)
*Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory: 1999-06-11 Chicago (CDR) disc 1
*Sun Ra: The Eternal Myth Revealed, Vol. 1 (discs 1-5)
*Sun Ra: Outer Reach Intensity-Energy (side 2)
*Henry Threadgill & Make a Move: Everybody's Mouth's a Book
*Henry Threadgill's Zooid: 2004-08-13 Jazz Gallery, NYC
*Beach Boys: The Smile Sessions (discs 1-4)
*Beatles: Unsurpassed Broadcasts, 2nd ed. (CDR) Vol. 4
*Beatles: Live Highlights, Bonus Disc Sweden and the Tube (1963-1964) (CDR compilation)
*Boston Spaceships: Brown Submarine
*Al Bowlly: Al Bowlly and the Great British Bands
*Steve Cropper: Dedicated
*Donald Fagen: Morph the Cat
*Grateful Dead: 1969-06-14 Monterey (CDR) "Dark Star" "The Eleven"
*Grateful Dead: Steppin' Out With the Grateful Dead (disc 4) "Dark Star > Sugar Magnolia" (1972-04-08 Wembley Pool)
*Grateful Dead: Europe '72 Vol. 2 (disc 2) "Dark Star > The Other One" (1972-05-07 Wigan, England)
*Hatfield and the North: Hatwise Choice
*Justice: Audio Video Disco
*Mayte: Children of the Sun
*Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
*Robert Pollard: Elephant Jokes
*Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin'
*Stock, Hausen, & Walkman: Oh My Bag!
*Kelley Stoltz: To Dreamers

Reading List 2012-01-16:

*Manguel, Alberto. A Reader on Reading (started)
*Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind (started)
*Bradbury, Ray: Bradbury Stories (finished)
*Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game (finished)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 2 (in progress)