Archive | May, 2016

Certain Songs #552: Guided by Voices – “Gold Star For Robot Boy”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

What does it mean to be friends with someone strictly over social media? I’ve been doing it for much of my life, and the process by which I end up deciding that words on a screen or a voice through a speaker means I’d probably enjoy hanging out with that person in real life (and vice versa) is still a bit of a mystery.

That said, because I’ve met so many amazing people this way, I’ve learned to trust in that mystery, because with very few exceptions, meeting those people face to face has turned out to be a delight.

When Rox & I went to Minneapolis-St. Paul & Chicago back in 2014, we hung out with people I’d met on Twitter in or while playing Fantasy Baseball or back in the day on Prodigy or event the CB radio. Scott & Larry & Kevin & Joey & Ranjit & Ann & Ira & Myra & Pat & Meg. That’s nearly 40 years of people who I otherwise would have never met.

Every single one of those people helped make that trip especially memorable. Oh, and The Replacements, as well. Who I got to meet in 1985 thanks to the social media known as College Radio.

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Certain Songs #551: Guided by Voices – “Tractor Rape Chain”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

It starts out with just an acoustic guitar being ramdomly strummed in the corner of a room, as if Robert Pollard hasn’t quite worked out the song that the rest of the band — who are filing into the room and grabbing their instruments — are going to play next.

Suddenly, he finds a riff, and “Tractor Rape Chain” explodes into full-blown technicolor glory, guitars perfectly interlocked, drums right on the spot, and everything right with the world. Maybe this is low-fi, but it sure isn’t a song that was accidentally recorded.

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Certain Songs #550: Guided by Voices – “Hardcore UFOs”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

I’m pretty sure the first time I heard of Guided by Voices was by reading about them in SPIN, whose Senior Editor, Jim Greer, had just written a biography of R.E.M. I liked called Behind The Mask.

I don’t remember exactly what he wrote about GBV, I just remember there was a Jim Greer piece in SPIN that really made me want to hear them. Because that’s how we still discovered music in 1994: we found writers whose opinions we trusted, and triangulated their recommendations with our individual tastes.

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Certain Songs #549: Guided by Voices – “Weedking”

gbv propeller Album: Propeller
Year: 1992

Like so many people, Bee Thousand was where I first heard Guided by Voices, and because of the beyond-indie nature of their back catalog, I’m not sure when I heard Propeller.

My guess is that I found it at Amoeba as part of the Vampire on Titus CD, which helpfully appended Propeller, but which also meant that the superior Propeller material showed up halfway through, and it took me a long time to figure out what was what.

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Certain Songs #548: Guided by Voices – “Over The Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox”

gbv propeller Album: Propeller
Year: 1992

“Alright, rock ‘n’ roll!
G!B!V!
G!B!V!
G!B!V!
G!B!V!”

This is where the legend begins. Sure, Guided by Voices were a band prior to Propeller, but this is still where the legend begins.

The big rock. The prog rock. The lo-fi. The pop hooks. It’s all here on nearly six minutes of poorly-recorded yet still transcendent bliss. “Over The Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox” might not be the longest song ever recorded by GBV, but it’s the longest of the 229 Guided By Voices songs that are in my iTunes.

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