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.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Amazing Japanese Guided By Voices Cover Band - 5 Videos

Found these videos a few days ago and my mind is still totally blown. These as yet unidentified kids comprise a great Guided By Voices cover band! Especially impressive is the girl on lead guitar and harmony vocals- check out her ripping solos on Surgical Focus and Teenage FBI. Anyone who knows Japanese (I took Japanese 101 back in the day but I hardly remember a thing and certainly didn't learn any kanji) and can tell me more info about them (band name, where from, etc.), it would be greatly appreciated.

The clips showcase the late 90's - early 00's GBV stylings of Fair Touching, Skills Like This, Chasing Heather Crazy, Surgical Focus and Teenage FBI (Do The Collapse version), respectively. Not surprising considering that the only GBV gigs in Japan were in 2000 and that many of their later-day Matador/TVT LPs had Japanese releases (with coveted bonus tracks). Makes one wonder how many hardcore Geebs fans there are across the language barrier between our two countries...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Robert Pollard's EAT 4 "The All Collage Issue" - Now Available!

This one kinda snuck up on me- too dang busy, I suppose. Regardless, Robert Pollard's mighty literary journal/magazine EAT is already up to issue number four. And its just now available courtesy of our friends at Rockathon Records!

If you love Pollard's cover collages (and hate reading words) as much as I do, this is the issue for you. 48 full color pages, 72 collages in total- nuthin' but collages! Check out the sample collage "Lightninghead To Coffee Pot" below for a taste of what to expect. If the history of EAT tells us anything, much of the art is sure to be featured on future Bob albums. And as always, EAT 4 is a limited print run. So don't come crying to me if you miss the boat!

Also of note is that some of the pieces in EAT 4 will be a part of Robert Pollard's not-yet-finalized NYC October art gallery show! And can you say "Robert Pollard coffee table art book"? Keep checking the blog for more details about these exciting developments as they become known!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Robert Pollard's Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love / Standard Gargoyle Decisions - Full Albums Now Streaming!

Go now to Merge Records homepage and clicky the buttons for Robert Pollard's new evil twin LPs Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions, the full albums now streaming for your listening pleasure! They sound f'in great to me so far. And if you like what you hear, pony up on October 9th and support yr Uncle Bob. Thank you Merge and enjoy this preview, kids!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Doug Gillard Charlotte Show Review

(show photos courtesy of Enid Valu)

It little over a month ago that I found myself in Charlotte, North Carolina for Doug Gillard’s amazing solo show at Snug Harbor. Found out about Doug’s mini-tour of the Carolinas well in advance, and was instantly tempted despite budgetary concerns. It was not only a rare opportunity to see Doug headline in a small club, but also a chance to preview full band versions of new songs from his upcoming album (regular readers of this blog know what a huge fan I am of Gillard’s first post-GBV solo album Salamander).

So I used the timing of the gig to arrange a long overdue visit to my mom and older brother in the low country of coastal South Carolina (I’m the weird middle child of 3 boys). Said brother Martin was one of the major musical influences in my life- a discriminating rock fan going back to the 70’s. So it didn’t take any convincing at all for him to agree to share the four hour drive up to Charlotte and join me for the gig!

Despite his usually impeccable musical taste, Martin was never really into Guided By Voices. But the long drive up (in his comfortably air conditioned, Sirius satellite radio playing automobile) afforded me an opportunity to play Salamander for him. Thus, an instant Doug Gillard fan was born (he later picked up a copy for himself at the gig)!

The time flew by and before long, we were stepping out into the wall of heat and humidity of Charlotte, North Carolina. Snug Harbor is a cozy dark-wood New Orleans/pirate themed bar in a hip late-night district of the city. Colorful regulars (several burly, bearded and shirtless) mixed in with bespectacled hipsters and packs of lovely ladies on the back patio before the music began. The low stage was tucked away in a corner of the main bar room. Early enough to snag a nearby booth, me and Martin slowly sipped our drinks and relaxed through the opening acts Tonberry and A Decent Animal. I also had the pleasure to run into one of my Disarm The Settlers cohorts "mksmc2000", a local who was more than willing to hang out and talk GBV (to the exclusion of my brother, sorry man).

Midnight approached as Doug Gillard and Fence Lions, a local band friendly with Gillard, took the stage as a crowd gathered around. The close proximity of the audience to the band and the lowness of the stage made for a very intimate and intense rock experience.

Immediately, Gillard proved himself an energized and powerful frontman (comparable to the best I’ve seen), ripping through Salamander single Symbols, Signs. Coiled before the mic like a snake ready to strike, he played his '77 black Les Paul with the mastery I’d witnessed countless times with Guided By Voices and Richard Buckner. But as a solo artist, he simultaneously sang lead vocals and led the band without missing a step. Its not often one sees a lead guitarist fronting a band with the ease of Doug Gillard.

And later, I was amazed to learn that Fence Lions normally play in a more moody and mellow country-influenced rock style, nothing like Gillard’s. After only several rehearsals and performances, they meshed amazingly well with Doug’s music and live performance, bringing a high level of energy and drive to the set. It felt to me as if they had played together for years.

But for me, the sweetest thing about the show was seeing and hearing Gillard unleashed on his own material. From songs I’ve grown to love from Salamander like Goin’ Back, Valpolicella, Me & The Wind, to GBV b-side Free Of This World, to incredible new songs like No One Above You, Gogol Was Rollo, Call From Restricted (many demos of which were featured on Doug’s myspace page at one time or another in the past year), Gillard seemed to relish speaking in his own unique musical voice. And my already high level of excitement for his forthcoming album went through the roof. Major goosepimples hearing those new songs in full bloom.

As a special treat, the band squeezed in a very faithful and rocking cover of The Smiths’ Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before. Closing out with the Gillard penned Gem/GBV classic I Am A Tree (a song with more intensely catchy guitar riffs that should be allowed by law) was the icing on the cake. Couldn’t resist pumping a fist in a moment of rawk ecstasy. Here is the full setlist from the gig…

Symbols, Signs
No One Above You
Gogol Was Rollo
Free of This World
For What I've Done
Love, Blinding Love
Call From Restricted
Stop Me (Smiths cover)
Goin' Back
Me & The Wind
I Am A Tree

Unfortunately, there was no encore. Gillard and Fence Lions played every single song they knew together! But being a part of an uplifting night of blistering rock… who could ask for more? Both me and my bro had a great time... well worth the cross-country flight and road trip through the Carolinas.

And if you live in major metropolitan area east of the Mississippi, go check out the Superdrag reunion tour this fall. Doug Gillard will be on lead guitar with Stewart Pack's band as the opening act (warm up gig at The World Grotto, Knoxville, Tennessee on September 22), playing songs from Pack's solo projects as well as his former bands, and perhaps some of Doug's songs too! Go check out this new Knoxville Daily Times article about Gillard and Pack's collaboration and the upcoming gig.

Take care my Earth-bound brothers and sisters in rock!

Guided By Voices - Hold On Hope Video Smorgasbord

Alas, Hold On Hope. Some say it was Guided By Voices' best chance to crack the Billboard Top 100 and hit the big time (whatever that means), others say Robert Pollard should have trusted his instinct and never let it see the light of day (in spite of Cars' frontman and Do The Collapse producer and Ric Ocasek's insistence). It is a lovely song, but is it too lovely (or too creamy, as Bob might say)? Too Everybody Hurts? I say nay. Only the hardest heart would not find beauty in this song. A live staple from 1999-2000 (including a performance on Conan O'Brien), Hold On Hope still remains the GBV song most known by the general public, as evidenced by this video collection. First up though, is a performance on Australian TV (unconfirmed, but its the most likely source) by the Geebs themselves. This may be the best produced and artfully shot TV performance in the band's history. Love the Jimmy Mac drum cam, especially. Check it...

Here is a clip from the show Scrubs (can't be bothered with most network TV myself, tend to dwell in the lower depths of the cable dial) featuring Hold On Hope. This is likely one of the reasons the song is fairly well known. I also recall the song appearing on the Scrubs 2002 soundtrack...

And now we enter the realm of YouTube weirdness (and confirmation of the song's popularity). How about clips from the film RENT set to Hold On Hope? Not good enough? What about Scrubs brethren Grey's Anatomy (another show I've never seen a second of) a la Hold On Hope? Or maybe your tastes run to Japanese anime? Not quite weird enough for you? How about Hold On Hope set to lyrically inappropriate images of poverty and other unrelated world events?

There was an amazing South Park clip on YouTube with Kenny singing Hold On Hope, but unfortunately it seems to have been removed. Brutal!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Richard Buckner / Doug Gillard - A Chance Counsel Live Video (Updated With Improved Audio!)

I feel like I'm always having to apologize for a lack of posts these days! In my defense, my so-called computer has been acting really screwy since late last week, making my internet connection extremely unreliable. Plus, I have been quite busy working on Pop Zeus along with a couple other art projects... of which I am not at liberty to discuss just yet. But I will. And they are cool! Stay tuned, true believers...

In the meantime, here is an update to an old post. I had the privelege to see two Richard Buckner/Doug Gillard gigs here in San Francisco last year, which I wrote about at the time. But the video for "A Chance Counsel" made at the first show had the typically sludgy blown-out audio only a Powershot can produce. And it bugged me.

Lo and behold, I got my hands on the soundboard audio. And yesterday, with the invaluable assistance of fellow Gargon Terror blogger Sean, I was able combine the two. The end result is a massive improvement! Without a doubt, A Chance Counsel is my favorite Buckner song and this is an amazing performance. Check it out...

PS- The clip cuts out at 3:00 because my camera only takes 3 minutes of video at a time. To preserve the full audio length, a blank slate was inserted into the clip until the video was back up and running.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Albert Hammond Jr. - Postal Blowfish Live Video

Albert Hammond Jr. is rhythm guitar player for The Strokes, infamous New York based "garage" band whose paths have crossed with Guided By Voices throughout their careers. From being discovered by throwing their demo tape on stage at a GBV show, to opening up for the Geebs, from having Guided By Voices guest star in their Someday video (and simultaneously battling them at "The Feud"), to Hammond's solo record Yours To Keep (the title of a Bee Thousand track). And the icing on the proverbial cake is Hammond's faithful and rocking cover of Guided By Voices' classic Postal Blowfish live in France, December 8, 2006. Enjoy!..

The Takeovers - Bad Football Review

I will never be a professional music critic. There, I've said it. Snap judgements on anything, especially music, are not my forte. To listen to an album once or twice, then sit down and cast judgement upon it is the height of irresponsibility, in my humblest internet opinion that no one cares about. What if the critic's dog just died or he had a bad burrito that day- wouldn't that factor in? What if, like many critics, they had a natural bias against Robert Pollard for being too prolific / too old / too drunk / not making another Bee Thousand / fill in the blank?

It's a rare day in magic land when I listen to even the most anticipated release and love it right away (and if I do, that's usually a good sign that I will become obsessed with it for a lifetime). Music grows on me, like a fungus in the YMCA's mens locker room. I can't tell you how many records or songs left me feeling "meh" at first, and then became my favoritest (not a word) thing ever.

That said, I decided to take my sweet ass time before reviewing The Takeovers' latest rock record Bad Football. I figured at least 10 listens and I would begin to get a grip on the newest Pollard / Slusarenko (with Pacific Northwest cronies) collaboration. Compounding the problem, the first few times I played the CD was in the car, on a hot day and my air conditioning was broken (still is). It didn't seem fair that I began to associate Bad Football with being stuck in traffic with a sticky shirt. So here we are, 3 months later...

I still brazenly declare that 2006's Turn To Red is Robert Pollard's best post-GBV album. For me, it has the perfect mix of pop creaminess, cosmic weirdness, Waved Out-like darkness and good old-fashioned fun. And former GBV bassist Chris Slusarenko's production and musical contribution was nothing short of brilliant- showing impeccable taste, tons of energy and a dynamic sonic range (including lots of piano and tambourine) that Pollard's melodies had never seen before.

Bad Football is a surprisingly different record. It feels much more traditionally "rawk"- very guitar-centric and stripped down- with buzzing and fuzzing electrics, screeching through their solos, and crashing drums underlying nearly every track. The awesome gun in yr face cover collage and blood red splattered jacket hint at the music within. Slusarenko and his collaborators tear through the songs with abandon. The only breath of fresh air comes from the contemplative but still creepy "Molly & Zack" and the lo-fi "The Year Nobody Died". So in that way, its a much more intense and assaultive rock record than Turn To Red.

Providing unexpected contrast to the heaviness, Robert Pollard's vocal stylings can only be described as extremely raw in a nearly comical way. Pollard growls, whoops, and hollers throughout. B-side track "Music For Us" is particularly insane. There are a few moments of gorgeous harmony ("Father's Favorite Temperature") and vocal creaminess, but for the most part, Bob is hilariously loose and freaky on Bad Football. And the lyrics, when not straightforward and emotionally brazen, are more nonsensical and distant than ever, adding to the silly vibe.

Highlights of the Bad Football include the barnstorming lead-off "You're At It" (with a yummy Malkmus solo and the memorable lyric "this form of suicide's not quick enough, what else ya got?"), the country-fried nurturer "Father's Favorite Temperature", the noncommittal heavy-duty anthem "Pretty Not Bad", the rollicking "I Can See My Dog" and the chugging sing-along album closer "My Will".

And in keeping with Takeovers tradition, Rockathon's own Rich T appears as the narrator in the aforementioned intensely weird "Music For Us". And another lovely old Pollard demo gets redressed in new musical layers with "Smokestack Bellowing Stars" (as "Be It Not For The Serpentine Rain Dodger" did on Turn To Red).

So upon reflection, The Takeovers' Bad Football does indeed sound like being caught in traffic on a hot summer's day with no air conditioning, but in the best possible way! An album of sharp contrasts and heavy guitar flavored rock, fans of raw rockist Robert Pollard have yet another instant classic to sink their teeth into. Though not surpassing the mighty Turn To Red in my eyes, Bad Football does receive a solid 4 everlasting big kicks through the paper-football goal posts, out of a possible 5.

And look out for The Takeovers' Little Green Onion Man EP, coming in late fall from Off Records. It will feature 3 unreleased Bob tracks in a more Turn To Red vibe, with a sick new cover collage. More news as it arrives!..