Thursday, April 9, 2015
Guided By Voices peeled the old skin to motor away onto the indie powerpop superhighway with a satisfying salty salute. The Dayton, Ohio stalwarts had delivered 'Bee Thousand' to universal acclaim and had another album ready to induce Matador Records (who had done the distribution for 'Bee Thousand' ) to offically sign them to the label. Recorded in a basement with four and eight track machines, 'Alien Lanes' was produced by Mr. Japan, engineered by The Red-Nosed Driver, and mastered by Bob Ludwig with Robert Pollard on vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, and percussion; Tobin Sprout on bass guitar, guitar, drums, percussion, vocals, and piano; Kevin Fennell on drums and percussion; Greg Demos on bass guitar, guitar, and violin; Jim Pollard on bass guitar and guitar; Jim Greer on bass guitar and backing vocals; Mitch Mitchell on guitar; Dan Toohey on bass guitar; and Larry Keller on drums and percussion.
Jim Pollard considers: "Well, we finished ['Alien Lanes'] before we were signed. We were actually carrying it around with us saying, "Listen, if you're gonna sign us, you have to put this out as it is," kind of our last completely four track deal. And everybody said they would. It's not as if we deliberately being contrarians or something. At the time, we really didn't have the money. And actually, there's some 8 track stuff on there, too...We like the 4-track for two reasons: for one--we like the way it enables to be more spontaneous. If we have a song, we can just go into Toby’s basement and record it that day. You can't really do that with a big studio. Second, some things just sound better on four track. We've spent a lot of time in the studio trying to get the vocals to sound as good as they do on the four track, that natural compression that you get. There are other things that we like about the four-track: the way it simplifies the arrangement, the way it allows you to get away with maybe not being technically perfect, which you're not going to be anyway because you just learned the song. Like the rhythm section is usually buried on four-track, all the low end gets kind of squashed out of existence, and the high end is really emphasized, so mainly what you hear is guitar and vocals, and this kind of clatter. But that's kind of the way that you used to hear songs on transistor radios back in the 60s, which is cool."
Bob Pollard reveals: "Whenever I hear phrases I like, I write them down in a notebook, and then when I feel like writing lyrics, I'll usually come up with the title first, and then I go from point A to point Z in a stream-of-consciousness-kind-of-way. And when I need a line, sometimes I use phrases. Most of the time it's for the imagery, and the look of the words on paper, and the sound of them...Sometimes I feel like I'm being inspired in an abstract way, like I'm trying to write something about something but not specifically. Usually we can analyze it later, so I just write it and then look at it and say, "well, maybe that's a song about ecology or...' ... Titles are important. Titles are what used to make me buy records as a kid. If I wasn't too familiar with the band, and they had a good band name, and the titles were cool on the record, and it had a fairly neat cover, I’d buy it. I use other points of reference now, because now I know certain producers and engineers and labels and stuff better, I use that. But I used to just go on titles and covers...I don’t know. We're just wanna-be classical rockers, really. We've just always had access to our basements and living rooms and four tracks and stuff. We used to go into big studios and it never worked. We were working with people who didn't have the slightest idea what we wanted, and at the time, neither did we...We can afford to go into a big studio and make a record, but we're still not doing it, because we've gotten used to the four track process, so we can't completely quit that. We're in the enviable position of having been around for 15 years. We're a new band, yet we're an established band. We're considered peers with Sonic Youth. We've been around as long as REM. But we want to show signs of progression, whatever that is."
"Watch Me Jumpstart"
"As We Go Up, We Go Down"
"Game of Pricks"
"My Valuable Hunting Knife"
All songs written by Robert Pollard unless otherwise noted.
"A Salty Salute" (R. Pollard, Tobin Sprout) – 1:29
"Evil Speakers" – :58
"Watch Me Jumpstart" – 2:24
"They're Not Witches" (Greg Demos, Jim Pollard, R. Pollard) – :51
"As We Go Up, We Go Down" – 1:37
"(I Wanna Be a) Dumbcharger" – 1:13
"Game of Pricks" – 1:33
"The Ugly Vision" – 1:34
"A Good Flying Bird" (Sprout) – 1:07
"Cigarette Tricks" (Demos, J. Pollard, R. Pollard, Sprout) – :18
"Pimple Zoo" – :42
"Big Chief Chinese Restaurant" (J. Pollard, R. Pollard) – :56
"Closer You Are" – 1:56
"Auditorium" (R. Pollard, Sprout) – 1:02
"Motor Away" (R. Pollard, Sprout) – 2:06
"Hit" – :23
"My Valuable Hunting Knife" – 2:00
"Gold Hick" – :30
"King and Caroline" (R. Pollard, Sprout) – 1:36
"Striped White Jets" – 2:15
"Ex-Supermodel" (R. Pollard, Sprout) – 1:06
"Blimps Go 90" – 1:40
"Strawdogs" (Sprout) – 1:17
"Chicken Blows" – 2:21
"Little Whirl" (Sprout) – 1:46
"My Son Cool" – 1:41
"Always Crush Me" – 1:44
"Alright" – 2:56