A few weeks ago I picked out which of Pollards releases
I would review next, I won’t say which one, but it was a challenge.
Not really one of my favorites and I’ve never heard any one refer to it.
So I assume not many have heard it.
For those who want to take a guess at what it is,
The music is as intense as having your head drilled.
Imagine my surprise (and relief) when I checked the mail and found a package
from Rockathon with the two new GBV eps.
And being that all new releases get put to the top of the list of what I review,
I was free from reviewing the above mentioned album,
at least for the meantime.
But that release wasn’t a Guided By Voices album, a solo album or anyone of Bob’s
ongoing side projects, it was a one-shot project.
So I couldn’t even call it a disappointment.
In the past fifty years of being a fan of rock music (God I’m old),
besides Robert Pollard, I can’t think of one band or performer
that has not been a disappointment.
Usually they are great at first, or grow into something great,
but somewhere down the line things change in their music or style,
and they never return to that original greatness,
or at least what I liked about them in the first place.
I could give a long list which would include many of people’s favorites,
who may like these performers so much, that they completely overlook
that the quality is no longer there and enjoy it just because they were once a fan.
I’ll give one, actually four examples:
Beatles Solo Albums.
I’ve heard most of them so I know,
and there was never a bigger Beatles fan,
Damn that’s a weight off my shoulders.
The reason I’m saying this is because, like I’ve said many times,
after all these years, Robert Pollard is at the top of his game.
This most recent line-up of Guided By Voices, which include Doug Gillard, Bobby Bare Jr.,
Kevin March and Mark Shue, has released three studio albums,
one of them a double as well as a live album,
with two more studio albums on the way, one of them another double.
Something that really impressed me was the diversity of the bands playing
on the "Cash Rivers and the Sinners" recent double album.
Spoiler Alert: Apparently Cash and the Sinners were Bob and GBV.
Now we have the “Wine Cork Stonehenge” ep, to add to that Crown.
Before it was released, it was said that the two eps, including the other, “100 Dougs”,
is a return to the old days when Guided By Voices released eps like,
“Fast Japanese Spin Cycle”, “Static Airplane Jive” and “Get Out Of My Stations.”
which is not all together true.
Though I really enjoy those eps and prize them,
some of the songs didn’t seem fully realized and some were even demos or early versions.
I’m not saying that as a bad thing, I love that stuff.
But all six tracks on “Wine Cork Stonehenge” are full band recordings
and appear to be finished, final versions of the songs.
Two of Bob’s more recent side projects were my favorites,
ESP Ohio and Ricked Wicky.
The releases of those groups were between the breakups of the reunited
“Classic” Guided By Voices line-up and the formation of the new.
That was the year of “Please Be Honest” the GBV album Bob made himself.
I figured that GBV, as a group were finished for good and Bob would be the only member.
I was all geared up for Ricked Wicky or ESP Ohio touring.
Can you imagine a Circus Devil tour???
But three (or is it four?) albums later we are full on into another Great GBV line-up.
I momentarily mourned the passing of Ricked Wicky and ESP Ohio,
(I still seriously mourn the passing of Circus Devils)
but considering most of the members of the new line-up were in those bands,
does it even matter?
Each one of those projects has a sound of their own,
but some songs on the past couple GBV albums and this ep “Wine Cork Stonehenge”,
could have easily been credited to ESP Ohio or Ricked Wicky.
“My Angel” is Classic Pollard Power Pop.
At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of “The Stars Behind Us,”
with Bob seemingly singing off-key and the guitar kind of wandering around,
but this ended up being one of my favorites.
The chorus sounds so GBV!
Love the guitar noise in the background and end.
“The Pipers, the Vipers, the Snakes!” and “Skull Arrow” could be Ricked Wicky out-takes
but I hear Doug playing lead.
“Thimble Society” Damn great!
“Tiny Apes” Freakin Great!
The total length of the ep is 9 minutes,
Four of the tracks are under a minute and a half and two songs are slightly over.
Lesser songwriters would milk a song for four or five minutes,
not Bob, he has no fear of running out of songs.
I understand that some of these songs will be on the upcoming album,
“Warp and Woof” which is coming out April 2019,
but which songs?
Not to disparage any of the past line-ups or band members,
especially since they are all important in GBV history and without
whom the band may not be where it is today,
but this line-up is amazing.
I always thought Doug was a great guitar player,
but his playing on the past couple releases and this ep is incredible.
If that was him playing lead on the Cash Rivers album,
my hats off to him, if I wore a hat.
I’ve said this a billion times, but here’s a billion and one,
Bob is at a creative peak, which was at an upswing ten years ago
and has yet to descend, just keeps going up.
Who else can you say that about?