Every time a new Guided By Voices album is released,
it’s the same story.
Reviewers give lukewarm reviews, basically tell the GBV story,
but they never seem to mention much about the songs.
so you know they only heard the album once,
if at all.
Fans usually say it’s not as good as the prior album,
even though they said the same about it at the time of it’s release.
And other fans can’t get beyond “Bee Thousand” or “Alien Lanes”
which I agree are great albums, but not a stopping point,
but a beginning.
The truth is, at least for myself,
you can not completely take in and understand a Guided By Voices
album in the first listen.
The first GBV album I ever bought was Alien Lanes in 1995,
after the first listen, I put the cd on the shelf, for about two months
and moved on to something else.
Then I decided to give it a fair listen.
being there were 28 songs I would play five songs over and over
till I know them, then move on to the next five.
Then I fell in love with the album and GBV.
I feel that Guided By Voices albums don’t get as good of reviews
that they deserve.
Reviewers give albums that they understand after one listen the best reviews.
But the magic that is Guided By Voices is something that grows on you,
and though it takes a little longer to get used to,
it stays with you longer.
The first time I heard “August By Cake” I was not sure what to think,
but from my past experience with hearing a GBV album for the first time,
I knew I had to keep listening.
“August By Cake” is a masterpiece of an album.
Most of the 32 songs on this, Guided By Voices first double album,
clocks in at between one to two and a half minutes.
And much like “Alien Lanes” many of the songs segue into each other.
“August By Cake” is Robert Pollard’s one hundredth album,
Bob is joined by a new line-up featuring Doug Gillard who was in GBV
between 1997 and 2004 and had a side project Lifeguards, with Bob.
Last year Doug joined Bob for the excellent album,
“Starting Point Of The Royal Cyclopean” under the name, ESP Ohio.
Doug replaced Nick Mitchell on last years Guided By Voices tour line-up
which included ex-GBV drummer Kevin March, Bobby Bare Jr. on guitar
and Mark Shue on bass guitar.
So the question of many much be,
Does it sound like a Guided By Voices album?
You have the pop/rock anthems like the opener, “5° on the Inside”
that would be the perfect opener for the live shows,
as well as “Keep Me Down” which is a rerecording of a Boston Spaceships song.
Old fans will recognize “When We All Hold Hands at the End of the World”
which appeared on old fan tapes and Suitcase2.
The amazingly prolific Robert Pollard wrote many new classics
that fans will fall in love with, once the songs “click” with them,
like “Amusement Park Is Over”, “Generox Gray ®”, “Substitute 11”,
“West Coast Company Man”, “Packing The Dead Zone” and “Warm Up To Religion”,
just to name a few, I can name more if you want.
One, or shall I say, nine of the surprises within “August By Cake”
are the songs the other four members wrote for the album.
When the news first came out the other members would have songs
and sing on the album, I admit I was skeptical,
Because as much as I enjoyed Nick Mitchell guitar playing
on the three Ricked Wicky albums,
I felt the songs he wrote and sang,
didn’t really fit the mood of the albums.
But each one of the band members songs go with the flow of the album.
they fill the same space that Tobin Sprouts songs did,
a calm between Bob’s more “out-there” songs.
Doug Gillard’s “Goodbye Note” is a brilliant pop/rock gem,
that needs to in the set list of the upcoming shows.
Same with Bobby Bare Jr’s “High Five Hall of Famers”
and Mark Shue’s three gems.
Kevin March’s “Sentimental Wars” is an Unexpected Joy.
I really wish that Guided By Voices would perform most of this album
during their upcoming tour instead of just five or six,
even though I live in Hawaii and won’t get a chance to see them this go around.
If there were one album I would want Guided By Voices
to be discovered by the general public with,
it is this album.
Because it defines what Guided By Voices is all about,
without an outside producer trying to make them something they aren’t.
It has the old GBV sound combined with Doug Gillard’s excellent
guitar playing of their later albums.
You get pop/rock, Bob’s weird little songs like the ones from “Mag Earwhig!”
and even some Prog/Psychedelic stuff.
It would be great if new fans discover GBV with this album,
because it’s a great representation of what they are about,
and a great place to start the long but worthwhile journey
into the world of Guided By Voices.
Why the title “August By Cake?”
I may be completely wrong,
but perhaps Bob was toying with calling this album, “Guided By Voices”
much like the Beatles self titled double album.
“August By Cake” might be an inside joke of the band name.
Excellent album, shouldn’t be overlooked by any GBV fan.
a great one to introduce a friend to the band,
sooner or later, they will thank you.