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.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Meet The King : Asshole 2 - Available Now!

Hope you are all enjoying the holidays! I am transmitting from my dad's computer here on the Jersey Shore, having a rather groggy (jet lag plus burn out) but enjoyable time off. I was just now surfing the net and found out some great news that warranted a news flash from my blogging slumber. Robert Pollard's second stage rant comedy album Relaxation Of The Asshole 2: Meet The King is now available through Rockathon Records! Here is the tracklisting...

Side One

Rock and Roll Soldier
I'm The Frog
Johnny Appleseed/Insane Asylum
Dick Pants On
Old John Meyer
300 Toes and Heavy the World
The Heart, The Lungs & The Liver Of It All
God Gave Us Rock and Roll

Side Two

The Hateful Fred
Burt Bacharach in Reverse
Buy Me A Shirt
Screw Foot
Song About Your City
Get Wasted
I Like To Give Beer To Kids
Blaze of Fire

Of course I have already ordered up my copy and you should too while supplies last. Like the previous comedy record, Meet The King is a vinyl-only 1000 copy limited edition and should prove quite hilarious... or in the words of Rich T, at least "funnier than Tenacious D" (heh heh). And while you are at Rockathon, check out the other cool Bob merchandise including tee shirts, stickers, Eat literary mags and other Rockathon exclusives.

And for more info on upcoming Pollard releases, please check out my previous post on the subject. See you all in 2007 A.D.!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Here's hoping your Festivus pole is raised high for the holidays (aluminum of course, due to its high strength to weight ratio). And as a way of celebrating, here is a terribly insular and ultimately touching video compiled by Disarm The Settlers own el goodo. Great tune, ripping guitar solo and many many jokes only understood if you spend way too much Penske file time at work on DTS. If the clip makes absolutely no sense to you, come sign up and join the fun on the GBV message board!

So to one and all, have a merry Christmas, happy Chanukah, kwazy Kwanza, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan. See you in 2007!

Monday, December 11, 2006


Noticed that we got a visitor to the blog from Tacoma, Washington... which reminded me of this great moment in music history. Enjoy! ;)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Robert Pollard and The Ascended Masters- Bowery Ballroom NYC Show Review

(NYC show photos courtesy of and copyright Erin Leah Pryde)

In a word- wow. Phil's tiny grey cells were fully blown by this amazing show. Easily my favorite Robert Pollard or Guided By Voices show in a number of years, and that's not just the post-show glow talking. But let's start at the very beginning of the story...

So, your boy (me) has been really struggling over the last couple months. Work burn-out in the extreme was turning me into a zombie for most of my waking hours. And as usually follows, my personal life was suffering (the last thing I want to do when I am exhausted is see other people... or rather, let them see me). I was really starting to cave up, big time- isolation drills in full effect. A vacation was in order. And the opportunity presented itself in the form of my niece, Grace!

I had been wanting to meet (does one "meet" a baby?) and spend time with my niece for many months (she is nearly 5 months old as I write this). And, as it happens, Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters were doing a brief Midwest and Northeast 8 date tour in support of Normal Happiness. So it was on! Of course my first priority was spending time with my brother Dave, his wife Jen and Grace. But I figured I would be able to see at least one of the two tri-state area shows (NYC and Philadelphia).

Flash forward to mid-November and several relaxing and fun days at my brother's place in Caldwell NJ. And it seemed cool for me take a brief time-out from the family to check out the New York City gig. So I drove to Jersey City on a soggy, chilly and congested Monday evening, took the PATH train into lower Manhattan and headed for the Bowery Ballroom.

And as I climbed into the familiar confines of the PATH tunnels, I started to feel really happy for the first time in a long time. I was on the PATH, the same trains I had ridden as a fresh-faced SVA art student back in the day. I was heading into Manhattan, my city- full of the kinda people, MY people that I miss out here on the left coast. And I was on my way to a Bob show- an annual (at least) renewal of spirit and soul. What could be better?

I had hoped to meet up with some of the NY and traveling Settlers from the Guided By Voices message board I frequent. But I didn't have a chance to check DTS from my brothers house, so the meet-up spot and time was unknown to me. Plus it was drizzly and cold, so I hightailed it over to the venue to warm up and get a good spot for the show.

Bounding upstairs with glee, I secured a spot right in front of the stage between future Tommy Keene and Bob positions. And as I waited, I struck up a conversation with the two folks nearest to me- one of whom seemed very familiar from past Guided By Voices shows. As it happens, they were both very cool hardcore fans originally from Houston who were even in Chicago for the final shows. The world of Geebs fans is indeed small. And its always fun to shoot the Bob with fellow fans.

First up on stage was La Dolce Vita, the unsubtly named band that actor Michael Imperioli from the Sopranos had assembled. And they were pretty damn good. Bob even made an appearance in the doorway above the stage in the wings, his silhouette nodding approval from on high- a rock Godfather of sorts. But I can't say much good about the second act, Starling Electric. Besides appearing to have spent more time on their hair and clothes than their rock chops, the music was like a K-Tel Rock Sounds Of The 60's compilation- lacking focus and playing into many cliches. Not helping matters were the hilarious asides and rolling eyes from my new friends from Houston- almost laughed out loud several times!

So, cooler of beers at the ready, it was finally time for Bob and the gang to take the stage. And the packed crowd was right there with them. A big part of what made the show so fun for me was the nearly out of control, but still not annoying enthusiasm from the crowd- the perfect blend of chaos and fun. There was some ugly pushing and shoving right in front of Bob (and one particularly obnoxious crowd surfer), but in my little corner things were cool. And the Ascended Masters were in high spirits, gelled into a unit more than any other show I've witnessed.

And Bob! Bob was in great voice and kicking up a storm. I swear I saw at least 3 everlasting big kicks that night. He seemed renewed, young even (in spite of his nearly white 'fro of curls)- in great shape and so happy to be playing with this talented bunch of musicians, throwing arms around Tommy and Jason throughout the show.

And being right in front of the venerable Tommy Keene, I can say without hesitation that he was on fire that night! Keene's guitar rang out like a bell, adding lovely textures to the leads, improvising upon the recorded material. Shifting with ease from guitar to keyboards and sometimes both at the same time, Tommy's contribution to the Ascended Master's sound cannot be overstated. And the very addition of keyboards to Pollard's live show adds subtle dimension to the usual guitar attack.

Right off the bat, Bob and the Masters tore through Accidental Texas Who from Normal Happiness like a hot axe through butter. I had managed to sneak my digital camera into the venue so as soon as Bob announced the next song, Fairly Blacking Out from my beloved Takeovers LP Turn To Red, I knew I must seize the opportunity. Here is the video!..

The clip gets freakin transcendent right around 1:45, if I do say so myself. Jason Narducy leaps in from off screen and Bob points up to the rock gods in the sky- just amazing. One of my best live videos, I think. And you can pinpoint the moment when security asked me to stop filming, the bastards. ;)

Normal Happiness was well represented that night, dominating the setlist with 13 songs- including the surprisingly strong Give Up The Grape/Pegasus Glue Factory medley, pop gem Rhoda Rhoda, Whispering Whip, the lovely Boxing About, and my favorite Serious Birdwoman. The rollicking album closer Full Sun also served to close out the main set.

Interspliced were a surprising number of brand new, ear-catching songs from the upcoming 2007 Robert Pollard solo LP Silverfish Trivia. Piss Along You Bird, Met Her At A Seance, Circle Saw Boys Club (my early favorite), Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love, Life Of A Wife, Father Is Good and Touched To Be Sure all made their New York debuts.

Understandably, 2006's amazing double solo album From A Compound Eye was an big part of the setlist, including the live powerhouses The Right Thing, US Mustard Company (for which Bob turned around to display the song title on the back of his workshirt), Dancing Girls And Dancing Men (the Ascended Masters really send this one into the stratosphere, with even more jump than the album version), Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft and the epic Conqueror Of The Moon.

But what really made this night and the rest of the tour so special were the setlist surprises- brilliant songs of yesteryear rarely if ever played live. I Get Rid Of You from Speak Kindly, Wrinkled Ghost from Waved Out, Ghosts Of A Different Dream, Drag Days and No Sky from Under The Bushes Under The Stars and Much Better Mr. Buckles from Do The Collapse were all live revelations, particularly Drag Days. And the inclusion of perennial favorites Everybody Thinks I'm A Raincloud, Subspace Biographies (at the behest of Tommy Keene, the song most requested of him... and quite possibly my favorite Bob song, not heard since the next to last GBV show ever), Motor Away and Game Of Pricks (mosh/crush city).

Amazingly, Bob chose to end the evening with the rarely heard and brilliant Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory. The crowd sung along with pure joy and abandon. Stupendous.

Spirits lifted right out of my sweaty frame, I practically floated back to Jersey City. It was one of those shows that left me feeling truly liberated, with an optimism about the future and renewed vigor for Pop Zeus. For some reason, I cranked Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True all the way back to my dad's house on the Jersey Shore. Singing along over the ringing in my ears, I realized that I knew every single word- weird.

I arrived home at 3 AM, quickly realizing I was not going to make it to Philadelphia that night. Ironically, the Philadelphia show was not only sparsely attended (only about 100 fans- man, do I still feel profoundly guilty I didn't go) but it became the unexpected last show of the tour. At some point, Bob severely tore his calf muscle (ringing any bells?) and cancelled the remaining 3 shows of the tour. Rather than half-ass his performances and let the fans down, Robert Pollard graciously called it a day. But little did we realize the announcement that was to come. Philadelphia- the last show ever, or at least for a long while?

Regardless, the Bowery Ballroom show was an amazing evening, bringing this uber-fan to joy (Subspace Biographies) and tears (Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft)- a night I will not soon forget. And I hope Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters realize how amazing they are, how much these shows mean to the fans and keep on keeping on...

(show photo courtesy of Dfactor from Waved Rumor)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Waved Out Collages By Robert Pollard On Ebay

As you may have guessed, I have been extremely busy in the last few weeks (months?). Work has been ramping up as we approach the end of the season (39 episodes this time around, as compared to 26 last season). Plus, my dad was visiting from New Jersey over the Thanksgiving week. So getting around to blog posting has been tough.

But today, I saw this interesting news item that I knew could make a nice quick blog post. Robert Pollard is yet again auctioning off some original collage album artwork on eBay. And this time, one of my favorite Bob albums and album covers are represented!

Waved Out, Robert Pollard's second solo album released in 1998, is a dark and hard rocking classic. The legendary tunes Make Use, Subspace Biographies (in my personal top 5 Bob songs), People Are Leaving and Steeple Of Knives are all in the mix. And I loved everything about the record immediately upon release, including the dynamic cover art.

And now you can own a piece of rock history as both the front AND back cover collages are up for auction! Already too rich for my blood (why, oh why did I go to art school, forever dooming myself to poverty and calls from the bank?) but hey, maybe you out there might be the lucky so and so to win this amazing collection of original art.

Good luck with the auction folks and I should be back soon with my NYC show review!