Saturday, April 29, 2017
Guided By Voices latest release, August By Cake starts off in a momentous way. It starts with an announcement by singer, songwriter and mainstay of the group since their early beginnings, Robert Pollard. The song itself features horns, handclaps, intertwining guitars and rolling basslines, which at times come off with a John Entwhistle R&B slant. Lyrically, the song seems like it could be partially autobiographical. August By Cake also marks the 100th release by Robert Pollard (when you count all of his affiliated releases with other bands and as a solo artist) since 1986. In addition to this, August By Cake is also the first double album to be released by Guided By Voices. The album appropriately is different from other releases in the Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard cannon, but also has many similarities to past music that has been created.
The previous release by Guided By Voices, 2014’s Please Be Honest, featured instrumentation recorded solely by Robert Pollard. Prior to this GBV released five albums and an EP with the classic 1992-1996 era GBV line-up featuring Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennell, Greg Demos and Robert Pollard. This release is a reunion of previous GBV band line-ups as well as a new one. The band lineup features guitarist Doug Gillard (who played with the band initially from 1997-2004), Kevin March (who played drums with the band in the early 2000’s and 2014) and Robert Pollard. The new lineup also features bassist Mark Shue and guitarist Bobby Bare Jr. This album is a strong effort that marks a second reunion of sorts. With 32 tracks clocking in at 71 minutes, there is plenty of material here to sift through.
“When We All Hold Hands At The End of the World” is a short song that seems to poke fun at getting older and adult life, “We Liken The Sun” is a song with plenty of arpeggios and guitar distortion, reflecting a sound from 1996’s Under The Bushes Under The Stars and abstract lyrics, “Packing the Dead Zone” seems to be a social commentary about our current social media trends, “What Begins On New Year’s Day” is an acoustic pop song with heavy segments of drum hits and guitar stabs and chords. This song is reminiscent of 90s era GBV songs and lyrically seems to be addressing proposed promises/failures in a reflective fashion. The song is very short, like many GBV songs they seem like they could be not completed or perhaps a demo in some cases. But, this is part of what makes GBV so interesting, there are hidden gems throughout this release, and all GBV for that matter. They are brief, but memorable.
For this album, Robert Pollard wrote songs initially intending to release a single album, but he had too many songs for a single album. Instead, he decided to proceed with a double album and asked each member of the band to contribute two tracks each. As a result, there is a new freshness to the songs found on this release. “Goodbye Note” is one of two songs written/recorded by guitarist Doug Gillard. With it’s descending guitar patterns the song seems to call for understanding in a relationship that involves life with a band on the road. “Deflect/Project” with lyrics such as “Deflect/project oh your actions are never circumspect” and “Planned obsolescence is the goal” this song emphasizes a dichotomy between being relevant and taking risks in a post-punk musical aesthetic. “Absent the Man” is a song by bassist Mark Shue with lyrics that seems to reflect a disconnect in band life/home life. “Chew The Sand” another Shue track, is an instrumental of sorts with mumbling lyrics, heavy drums and dusty guitar effects that at times drift into prog rock territory (Shue also contributes the song “Sudden Fiction” to this album as well). Bobby Bare Jr.’s contributions include the angsty garage song “High Five Hall of Famers” and “Upon The Circus Bus” an acoustic song with loud talking/banter in the background with allusive lyrics. “Overloaded” a song by drummer Kevin March, is a jangly pop song reflecting a situation showcasing someone that may have put a bit too much on their plate and is sorting through it. “Sentimental Wars” musically is an acoustic, drum filled and organ-dominated affair. Lyrically, March is searching for sentimentality or connection with lyrics such as “We are all fighting/Can we ever find the time to be alone?” and “Just take my hand/I will be with you always”.
All of these songs, whether they are Robert Pollard originals or by other band members, feature a certain cohesion to them. There is a flow to this album, that makes all of the songs seem seamless, but not in a stereotypical way. “Dr. Feelgood Falls Off The Ocean” as do several of the songs on this release, resembles a 90s era GBV sound. Lyrically, the song is a tale about suburban life. “The Laughing Closet” is a melodic track with abstract lyrics, “Whole Tomatoes” is an acoustic song that sounds like it could be a demo, while “Amusement Park is Over” reflects on a past, but once joyous memory.
A lot of areas are covered on this album. A song like “Packing The Dead Zone” for example touches on social commentary on current social trends. There may be a vast amount of data and information out there today, but there is also a limitation. With GBV who have always had lots of material on their releases and many releases for that matter, more GBV is a good thing. For the 100th release featuring Robert Pollard, it certainly doesn’t sound stale. August By Cake has many layers to fill the listeners plate. And while this album features 32 songs, there is not too much on their metaphorical plate here. There is just enough to satisfy newcomers to the band’s music and diehard Guided By Voices fans alike.
Check out my interview with Doug Gillard here:
1. Juliana Hatfield - Good Enough For Me
2. Tacocat - I Love Seattle
3. Slowdive - Don't Know Why
4. Chad Vangaalen - Clinically Dead
5. No Fun - Planet
6. Gem - Suburban Girl
7. Doug Gillard - No Perspective
8. Guided By Voices - Goodbye Note
DOUG GILLARD INTERVIEW
9. Robert Pollard & Doug GIllard - Pop Zeus
10. ESP Ohio - Royal Cyclopean
11. Guided By Voices - An Unmarketed Product
12. Zoom - Sweet Desperation
13. Cousins - Lullaby
14. Tuns - Throw It All Away
15. Slow Down Molasses - Secret
16. Construction & Deconstruction - Onomatopoeia
17. Shotgun & Jaybird - Borrowed Minivans
18. Woods - Bleeding Blue
19. Warm Soda - Don't Stop Now
20. The Finks - Now
21. The Scenics - Western Hills (Live - Toronto 2016)
22. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Judy
23. Pavement - Unfair
24. Tim Darcy - You Felt Comfort
25. Guided by Voices - Dr. Feelgood Falls Off the Ocean
26. Guided By Voices - Universal Truths and Cycles
27. Guided By Voices - Hold On Hope
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 29.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Tobin Sprout is perhaps best known as being part of the classic era line-up of lo-fi indie rock band Guided By Voices, but Sprout has been releasing solo material, along with other side projects since the mid-90s. The Universe and Me is his seventh full-length album. For this album, the songs take on a more aggressive approach, as opposed to 2010’s Bluebirds of Happiness Tried To Land On My Shoulder, which was a more piano driven affair. One of his strongest efforts to date, The Universe and Me features a selection of older material from songs that were recorded at Sprout’s Michigan based studio in the past and newer material recorded for this album. As a whole, the songs on this album feature a contemplation of past worldviews. It is a coming of age of sorts, however, Sprout is 61 years old. The Universe and Me contains a complex youthfulness that is found within each of the songs maturities.
“Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow” opens up the album. It is a fuzzy driven rock track that recalls a Guided By Voices aesthetic, it is however, not the same. Lyrically, the song deals with a youth fascinated by superheroes as he transitions to adulthood. This is contrasted with the song title for a certain nostalgic feeling as the character in the song puts on his adult uniform. The title track is a piano driven song that pulls from a Beatles musical influence. “A Walk Across the Human Bridge” is another upbeat rock song contrasted with “Manifest Street”, which is a slower jangly pop song. The song with lyrics such as ”Something to do was raised and grew/On manifest street/In a treasure chest of dreams you’ve kept” conveys a sense of maturity from looking back on the past.
“Tomorrow From Heaven” is a lush pop song, complete with distorted guitars, as “Just One Kid (Takes On The World)” is a more rock and roll affair. With heavily distorted guitars, handclaps and power pop song dynamics, this song also features strong lyrical prowess. The lyrics are pretty straightforward, matching the song’s title, showing someone with nothing to lose. “Future Boy (Reprise)” ends the album. The song picks up where the beginning of the album started off. Where the first song “Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow” reflected a growing youth that is eventually dressed a uniform symbolizing adulthood, the reprise version of this song reflects the man this character became, one that wanted to forget his past, but decided to learn and grow from it.
The songs on this album are short, but well put together. A good song is a good song. There are 14 of them on this album, all of which contain an undeniable youthful energy. The production is sometimes rough around the edges, but it just further proves the point that a song can be great regardless of the production style, if done properly. The songs on The Universe and Me showcase a complex feeling, one draped in the colours of nostalgia, but also one with a new sense of understanding. This is a feeling that permeates all of the tracks that are found on The Universe and Me. It is one that like the album’s front cover provides the listener with a sense of awe and wonderment.
Check out my interview with Tobin Sprout:
1. The Clash - Police & Thieves
2. The Congos - Sodom & Gomorrow
3. Robyn Hitchcock - I Pray When I'm Drunk
4. Brain James - Why? Why? Why?
5. Feefawfum - No Content
6. Tobin Sprout - The Universe and Me
TOBIN SPROUT INTERVIEW
7. Tobin Sprout - Moonflower Plastic (You're Here)
8. Tobin Sprout - To My Beloved Martha
9. Guided By Voices - Awful Bliss
10. Fig.4 - Behind Her Eyes
11. The Kinetics - Take A Train
12. Ron Gallo - Pleasure Yourself
13. The Jesus & Mary Chain - Always Sad
14. The Evaporators - Welcome To My Castle
15. Lush Buffalo - Jane The Ripper
16. Jay Som - 1 Billion Dogs
17. Middle Sister - The Sea
18. Beams - Black Shadow
19. Elliot Smith - Speed Trials
20. Spoon - First Caress
21. Blessed - Endure
22. Mad Ones - It Never Rains
23. Iggy & The Stooges - I Got A Right (Raw Power Sessions Outtake)
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 22.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Northern Passages is the 10th full-length album released by Toronto’s The Sadies, who formed in 1994. This album makes connections with the band’s past, musically and spiritually as well as connecting with the present and future. Dallas and Travis Good have a musical history that is deep rooted in country and folk music. They are the sons of Margaret and Bruce Good. Bruce, alongside Brian and Larry Good (Dallas and Travis’ uncles) performed and recorded music as The Good Brothers. It’s also no secret that The Sadies have collaborated with numerous artists such as Andre Williams, John Doe, Neko Case, Gord Downie, Neil Young, Garth Hudson and many others. On Northern Passages they collaborate with a new contributor, Kurt Vile.
Several of the songs on Northern Passages are like walking into a wide-open field. With each track The Sadies make new paths and breathe new life into previous paths that they’ve travelled through in the past. “Riverview Fog” opens Northern Passages in a psychedelic folk fashion. It is slow and conjures up the feeling of walking on an overcast day prior to a rainfall. Lyrically the song acts as a letter and combination of thoughts to an old reclusive friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. “Riverview Fog” is said to be about Rick White of Eric’s Trip/Elevator, who alongside Greg Keelor (of Blue Rodeo), Dallas Good, Travis Good, Sean Dean and Mike Belitsky of The Sadies played in The Unintended. With lyrics such as “I know that’s not where you’re at today/Stay calm in your quiet getaway”, “Long gone are the days/They’ve all passed away” and “But I know you’re where you need to be/Out in the country”, “Riverview Fog” mixes up a complex pairing of thoughts and reflectiveness, while at the same time displaying a hopefulness.
“The Elements Song” clocks in at five minutes and 21 seconds and calls for being aware of your surroundings. Musically, it was the first song that they worked on for Northern Passages, which was recorded Dallas and Travis’ parents’ basement and produced by Dallas Good. With this song The Sadies take little bits of the music that has surrounded them throughout their career. The Sadies tread through familiar pathways that some would say have been passed through before, but when The Sadies travel through, it sounds mesmerizing. “Through Strange Eyes” is a country-garage song with strong narrative lyrics, dealing with the devil, a place without love and birds in flight. “God Bless The Infidels”, is a country song, featuring backing vocals from Margaret Good that questions our current social climate, however, it is a song that has a universal message. “The Good Years” is a sweeping dark country-folk song that is haunting, both musically and lyrically. This song was name checked on The Sadies website as “Northern Gothic”, and this is a path that no matter how many times it is walked through, it is still powerful.
Following the reflective “Questions I’ve Never Asked”, “The Noise Museum” comes in as the last and the 11th track on Northern Passages. This instrumental track, the only one found here takes on an Ennino Morricone slant mixed with surf elements and is executed in a cinematic fashion. With an overall sound that can be described as an “acid-folk-country-punk trip”, Northern Passages finds The Sadies navigating through familiar and new territories. The Sadies are not travelling through a path less travelled here, but they are creating their own.
Playlist for Show # 653 (Originally Aired on April 15th, 2017):
1. Street Chant - Pedestrian Support League
2. The Verlaines - Death & The Maiden
3. The Chills - Doledrums
4. The Rolling Stones - Cool, Calm & Collected
5. Bubble Puppy - Lonely
6. The Soul Motivators - Dr Know It All
7. The Easybeats - Saturday Night
8. The Gooeys - Scary Black Cherry Nap
9. The Moby Dicks - Mike Molloy
10. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Julie's Place
11. Dream Whip - Hopeless Romantic
12. Elephants Memory - Jungle Gym At The Zoo
13. Craig Brown Band - I Wondered What
14. CATL - Lamplight The Way
15. New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
16. Timber, Timbre - Sewer Blues
17. Protomartyr - Want Remover
18. Dude York - Tonight
19. The Flaming Lips - Just Like Before
20. Paul Jacobs - Favorite Number
21. The Oblivians - No Reason To Live
22. Pow Wows - Hey Doctor
23. The Jury- Who Dat?
24. The Zombies - Gotta Get A Hold of Myself
25. The Zombies - Indication
26. The King Khan & BBQ Show - Too Much In Love
27. The Gruesomes - Wish You Were Her
28. The Gruesomes - Who Dat?
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 15.
Playlist for Show # 652 (Originally Aired on April 8th, 2017):
1. The Sentinals - Exotic
2. The Reprobettes - Danger!
3. Spencer Burton - Dark Cloud
4. By Divine Right - Field Of Trampolines
5. Adrian Teacher & The Subs - Late Last Night
6. Shotgun Jimmie - Drunkeness
7. Calvin Johnson - Lies Goodbye
8. The Sadies - Riverview Fog
9. The Sadies - It's Easy (Like Walking)
10. Beams - I Wanted To Tell Her
11. James O-L & The Villains - West End
12. Lychi - Married
13. The Orwells - Fry
14. Mexican Knives - Turner
15. 3-D Invisibles - Cool Ghoul
16. Johnny Thunders - Cool Operator
17. Damaged Bug - The Cryptologist
18. Idols - Girl That I Love
19. The Adverts - Safety In Numbers
20. The Only Ones - Another Girl, Another Planet
21. Link Cromwell - Crazy Like A Fox
22. The Jujus - Do You Understand Me
23. The Collectors- We Can Make It
24. Northwest Company - Eight Hour Day
25. The Benders - Can't Tame Me
26. The Black Lips - Freedom Fries
27. Guided By Voices - West Coast Company
28. Guided By Voices - Keep Me Down
29. Guided By Voices - Sudden Fiction
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 8.
Playlist for Show # 651 (Originally Aired on April 1st, 2017):
1. Vangelis - One More Kiss, Dear
2. Dion Lunadon - Fire
3. The Maggie's Marshmallows - No Friend of Mine
4. La Conversion Des Sauvages - Dans La Granges
5. La Conversion Des Sauvages - Jappe Le Chein
6. Little Richard - Jenny Jenny
7. Little Richard - She's Got It
8. Muddy Waters - Can't Be Satisfied
9. Townes Van Zandt - Who Do You Love (Live At The Old Quarter)
10. Stompin' Tom Connors - The Ketchup Song
11. The Sadies - Through Strange Eyes
12. T. Hardy Morris - Painted On Attitude
13. Saint Pe - Spun and Spurn
14. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Sick Bug
15. Tim Darcy - Still Waking Up
16. The Beets - Cold Lips
17. Bob Dylan - Braggin'
18. Teenage Geese - Itchy Feet
19. Cub - Cast A Shadow
20. Jack Lee - Hanging On The Telephone
21. Jack Lee - Women
22. Ron Gallo - Put The Kids To Bed
23. Ron Gallo - Why Do You Have Kids
24. Tobin Sprout - Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow
25. BA Johnston - Alley Beers
26. Preoccupations - Zodiac
27. The Mummies - Zipa Dee Do Da
28. Xanadu - No Change
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 1.