August 11, 2012

Playlist Week of 8-11-12

GBV - Class Clown Spots a UFO
* Buxtehude: Seven Sonatas (Holloway/Mortensen/ter Linden) (CPO/Naxos CD)
* Brahms: Sonaten für Viola und Klavier (Kashkashian/Levin) (ECM CD)
* Bartók, et al.: Concerto for Viola & Orchestra, etc. (NRCO/Eötvös/Kashkashian) (ECM CD)
* Boulez: Le Marteau sans maître/Dérive 1&2 (Ens. Intercontemporain/Boulez) (DG CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Quintet (New York) 1975 (New Braxton House Bootleg MP3)†
* Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Karlsruhe) 1983 (New Braxton House Bootleg MP3)†
* Anthony Braxton: Duo (Belfort) 1985 (New Braxton House Bootleg MP3)†
* Henry Threadgill Zooid: The Revelry, Spp (Pi CD)
* Eraserhead (Original Soundtrack) (I.R.S./Sacred Bones LP/7”)
* Grateful Dead: Lyceum Theatre, London, England 5-25-72 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 4HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Lyceum Theatre, London, England 5-26-72 (selections) (GPD/Rhino 4HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Terrapin Lt’d. (Capital Center, Landover, MD 3-15-90 (selections) (GDP 3CD)
* The Red Krayola: Coconut Hotel (Drag City CD)
* Yes: Fragile (Atlantic/Analogue Productions LP)
* Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Warner Bros. 2-45RPM LP)
* Guided By Voices: Let’s Go Eat The Factory (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Guided By Voices: Class Clown Spots A UFO (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Guided By Voices: “Jon The Croc”/“Breathing” (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Keep It In Motion” / “White World,” etc. (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Class Clown Spots A UFO” / “Message From The Moon,” etc. (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Robert Pollard: Moses On A Snail (GBV, Inc. CD)†/‡
* Robert Pollard: Mouseman Cloud (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Jim O’Rourke: Eureka (Drag City LP)
* Jim O’Rourke: Halfway To A Threeway (Drag City EP)
* Jim O’Rourke: Insignificance (Drag City LP)
* Porcupine Tree: The Sky Moves Sideways (KScope 2CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Signify/Insignificance (KScope 2CD)†/‡
* Porcupine Tree: Stupid Dream (KScope CD/DVD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Lightbulb Sun (KScope CD/DVD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Recordings (KScope CD)†(‡)
* Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Lava/Atlantic CD)
* Buckethead: Colma (CyberOctave CD)†
* OM: God Is Good (Drag City LP)
* OM: Advaitic Songs (Drag City 2-45RPM LP)
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Legacy Edition) (Sony/The End CD/DVD)
* Opeth: Deliverance (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)
* Opeth: Damnation (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)
* Opeth: Lamentations (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner HDCD/DVD)†
* Opeth: The Roundhouse Tapes (Peaceville 2CD)†
* Opeth: In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (Roadrunner 3CD/2DVD)†
* Katatonia: Last Fair Deal Gone Down (10th Anniversary Edition) (Peaceville CD/CDEP)
* Evoken: Atra Mors (Profound Lore MP3)†
* Agalloch: Fragments (singles, etc.) (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC)†
* Agalloch: The Grey EP (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC)†
* Agalloch: The White EP (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC)†
* Agalloch: Faustian Echoes (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC)
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse 2CD)†
* Xibalba: Hasta La Muerte (Southern Lord MP3)†
* Pelican: Australasia (Hydra Head 2-45RPM LP)
* Pelican: The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw (Hydra Head CD)†
* Pelican: “March Into The Sea” (Hydra Head EP)
* Pelican: What We All Come To Need (Southern Lord CD)†
* Pelican: Ataraxia/Taraxis (Southern Lord EP)
* Russian Circles: Empros (Sargent House CD)(†/‡)
* Six Organs of Admittance: Ascent (Drag City MP3)†
* Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop 2LP)
* Dusted: Total Dust (Polyvinyl CD)



It’s tempting to say the new Guided By Voices album is their best since the hey-day of the so-called “classic lineup” in the 1990s. That might be overstating things, but Class Clown Spots A UFO is a huge step up from Let’s Go Eat The Factory, their first reunion album. The opening bass riff of “He Rises! Our Union Bellboy” even brings to mind “A Salty Salute,” the drink-along anthem that kicked off Alien Lanes back in 1995. Well, it actually turns out to be the sort of episodic rocker that characterizes Pollard’s late work, but executed with the charming sloppiness of good ol' GBV—this is a good thing! Where Let’s Go sounded tentative and pieced together, Class Clown sounds much more like a band working it out together in a room. The recordings are a little more elaborate, with hook-filled vocal harmonies and expanded instrumentation, including some cheesy keyboards, drum machines and sampled horns. The sound is still self-consciously rough-and-ready; a digital approximation of the old four-track cassette days where the lo-fi aesthetic helps to keep the creamy pop from curdling and adds gritty texture to the more experimental tracks.

Aside from the shambolic rhythm section of Greg Demos and Kevin Fennel (and the inebriated lead guitar of Mitch Mitchell) (no not that Mitch Mitchell!), the key player in the “classic lineup” was singer/songwriter/painter Tobin Sprout. He was the perfect foil for Robert Pollard’s profligacy, Sprout’s sweet melodicism countering Pollard’s rockist intensity, sort of like what Paul McCartney did for John Lennon in The Beatles. Sprout is given a lot of space here, almost stealing the show once again (as he did on Let’s Go). But Pollard brings his A-game this time and generously allows the rest of the band to flesh out the arrangements, turning songs like “Class Clown Spots A UFO,” “Keep It In Motion” and “Jon The Croc” into his catchiest songs in years. As with the last album, three (3!) seven-inch singles were released in the interim featuring those tracks and some choice B-sides, including two more gorgeous ballads from Sprout (“Breathing” and “Message From The Moon”) plus a one-minute power-pop masterpiece from Pollard (“White World”), a song so good it really should have been included on the album. And as usual, Pollard’s whimsical sleeve designs are worth the price alone.

According to this article in Rolling Stone, another album, The Bears For Lunch, is due out in November and the band has already started work on the next LP, to be titled, English Little League. Apparently, there are plans to "put out a new album every six months after that.” Well, alright! Let’s hope the rejuvenated GBV continues to evolve and grow—they give hope to us old guys.

You can download a free MP3 of “Keep It In Motion” here.


Pollard continues to release solo albums at a semi-furious clip, the most recent one being Mouseman Mars, another collaboration with producer/multi-instrumentalist, Todd Tobias. It’s a pleasant enough collection of sophisticated AOR rock but, aside from the dramatic final track (“Chief Meterologist”), nothing really stands out, even after several close listens. Oh well; no one bats a thousand, not even the amazing Robert Pollard. Never fear: another one, Jack Sells The Cow, is due out on September 18.

You can check out the opening track from Mouseman Mars, the aptly titled, “Obvious #1,” here.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Full speed ahead! Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2012-08-13:

*Colla Parte: 2012-06-21 Fillmore, Washington DC (wav)
*Joe Henderson: Canyon Lady
*Interstellar Fife and Drum: 2012-06-30 RVA Noise Fest, Strange Matter, Richmond VA (mp3)
*Ingrid Laubrock Sleepthief: The Madness of Crowds
*Tom Rainey Trio: Camino Cielo Echo
*Sun Ra: The Eternal Myth Revealed (selections)
*Sun Ra: “Sun Ra and Friends” video soundtrack (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor Trio: 1975-09-06 Alassio, Italy (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor Trio: 1975-08-01 Orvieto, Italy (CDR)
*Henry Threadgill & Zooid: 2010-06-24 Jazz Gallery, NYC (CDR)
*Henry Threadgill & Zooid: 2011-11-25 Poland (CDR)
*Broadcast: Broadcast & The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Get Happy (2003 reissue, disc 2)
*Dark Carpet/Blackman/Lassie/Jefferson Pilot: 2012 CDR compilation
*Mike Elder/Greg Jordan/Harry Forrest/Sam Byrd: 2012 CDR compilation (wav)
*Mike Elder/Greg Jordan/Sam Byrd: 2012 CDR compilation (wav)
*Grateful Dead: Live/Dead (side 1)
*Grateful Dead: 1969-04-13 Boulder, CO (CDR) "Dark Star”
*Grateful Dead/John Oswald: Grayfolded
*Kinks: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (Special Deluxe Edition disc 2)
*Little Richard: Here’s Little Richard
*Pavement: Wowey Zowey
*Robert Pollard: Crickets: The Best of The Fading Captain Series
*Prince & the Revolution: 17 Days Live 1984 (boot CDR)
*Percy “Thrills” Thrillington: Thrillington
*Ike Turner: Rock-A-Bucket (disc 1)

Reading List 2012-08-13:

*Link, Kelly. Magic For Beginners (started)
*Barth, John. The Friday Book (reread/in progress)
*Barthelme, Donald. Sixty Stories (in progress)
*King, Stephen. The Shining (reread/in progress)