Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Happy Jack Rock Records #1 Rud Fins / Piss Along You Bird & #2 Spider Eyes / Battle For Mankind Review

Salutations from the fog bank! I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Been rather busy drawing Pop Zeus and otherwise enjoying my time off. But over the last few days, I've felt pretty crappy- an opportunity to catch up on some overdue posts.

If you are a subscriber to Robert Pollard's Happy Jack Rock Record Club, odds are you have received singles number one and two already, like me. And so far, so great! Physically, the Happy Jack 45's have an old-school no frills feel that hearkens back to the innocent days of rock and/or roll, from their plain paper sleeves to their big jukebox-ready center hole. But the music etched on the vinyl is anything but conventional.

The A-side of single #1 is Rud Fins, featured on Robert Pollard's upcoming "poppy" LP Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love. And it delivers in the pop department, big time (a good thing in my book). Melodic and light, the good time down-home feelin' of Rud Fins could easily be an outtake from 2006's Normal Happiness. The lyrics are a mystery to me so far. But the driving chord changes and sunny guitar are pure creamy Bob goodness. And the final section of the song reaches triumphant heights, closing the song out with power. Tasty.

The B-side to Rud Fins is the Silverfish Trivia outtake Piss Along You Bird. It's a tune already familiar to Pollard fans who caught the tour last winter. But the fully realized studio version is a revelation. I am shocked this instant classic will only see the light of day as a vinyl B-side. Bob's double track vocals dance over Todd Tobias' playful but rockin' guitars and the result is magic. And Pollard has never been stronger lyrically- from the first dismissal of "alright, alright, alright- enough you" to "take your scent back in the air" to "love is not all you need" (a humorous rebuttal of the Beatles cliche) to "I wanted you, I needed you" (a couplet last heard more endearingly on Serious Birdwoman (You Turn Me On)), dissing your ex has never been more empowering and fun.

Surprising the hell out of most listeners, Happy Jack single #2 takes a complete 180 degree turn with Spider Eyes. The final track on Robert Pollard's forthcoming "weird and proggy" Standard Gargoyle Decisions, Spider Eyes is balls-out paranoid thrash counterpointed with Circus Devils-esque bluesy weirdness (apparently designed to drive the spiders out of your speakers!). Bob's howling vocals (as recently heard on Bad Football) complement the creepy vibe perfectly. And the slogging death-march of a conclusion "and your mind.." cross-fades nicely into Bob's boombox demo. Spider Eyes brings the rawk.

And keeping the psychedelic rock vibe going on the B-side is Battle For Mankind, a song collage co-created by Rockathon Records' own Rich Turel (hee haw!). One part Revolution #9, one part Back To Saturn X Radio Report (song bits and pieces), a big hunk of Geo and Bob-speak and a dash of Ringworm Interiors' roommate repelling noise, the track is strange and comical in a good way. Upon careful listening, I hear (in order) an acoustic snippet of Stawberry Fields Forever, a bit of live Bob (sounds like old GBV?), TV clips with Bob back-talk, a woman singing Happy Birthday, back-masking, a tiny bit of The Way Of The World (?), a different version of Did It Play?, finishing up with a unknown boombox demo. Its a mystery wrapped in an enigma... and I dig it.

Good shit so far in the Happy Jack Rock Records Single Series. Here's looking forward to single #3 Current Desperation (Angels Speak Of Nothing) b/w Met Her At A Seance in August! Cheers, proud brothers!


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