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Robert Pollard, Etc.


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I love his purposeful out of tune vocal in the first verse. The one that bugs me is two songs preceding. I know I Am A Tree is a Gillard song, but the metaphors are just plain dumb.

 

doug's new record is incredible - call from restricted

 

his last one is great too - salamander

 

the lyrics to i am a tree (which was originally a cobra verde track) are bad, but the guitar solo is the shit! and live it ruled

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  • 4 months later...

any opinions yet of We All Got out of the Army?

 

still working through it over here

 

Love it. That's two brilliant solo albums in a row, in addition to three consecutive wonderful Boston Spaceship albums (with an EP and new album due soon) and three better-than-usual Circus Devils albums (with another one due next month). Uncle Bob's on a winning streak. His next solo album, Moses on a Snail, is due this summer. Can't wait.

 

:cheers :music :dancing :worship

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been on a GBV kick for a bit after ignoring everything Bob-related for about a year...just burnt out on him after Normal Happiness. I would agree that pretty much everything from FSB through FaCE is good to great. What has been extremely frustrating, for me, is how Bob just seems to be in cruise control mode lately - write a bunch of songs, send the demos to Todd, sing over them, release, repeat process 5 or 6 times a year. I will admit, however, that one could make a hell of a 30 or so song compilation tape that would easily top anything released in this decade. The man still does write some great songs - You Satisfy Me? Fucking amazing. The Blondes? Haunting.

 

Yesterday, I was listening to some Bob radio interviews from 1997 around the time when the so-called "classic" GBV lineup broke up, and all Bob talks about is how that version of the band was at their peak and how he didn't think he could take it any further, hence the new direction. This was after what...like 3 albums?

 

Apply this logic to the Bob situation of today: He's been with Todd since what, 2002 or 2003? I love the final GBV records to death, and FaCE is in my top 5 Bob records, but goddamnit if FaCE wasn't the peak of this situation. How in the hell does one go on after that epic record? Switch it up! Just like he did with Mag Earwhig! and Do the Collapse - try something new - reinvent.

 

I will give him the 3 Boston Spaceships records - they were the freshest sounding records he's put out since FaCE....probably because he did it with a BAND.

 

unfortunately, Bob seems totally enthralled with his current songwriting/recording process, and if it makes him happy then so be it. Like everyone has said in this thread, the guy still has a string of classics that will stand the test of time. i just wish he'd take his shit in a new direction.

 

as a sort of afterthought, I wouldn't even dare bring this up on the GBV board - they crucify people for much less over there - attacking Bob and/or Todd is a death wish.

 

edited to add:

 

BJ -- I agree that the Spaceships records sound better than the solo stuff, mainly because they're a departure from the tired formula of Pollard scribbling down some words and Todd Tobias rushing into the studio to match up some faceless music to go with 'em. they do sound good.

 

heh, guess I missed this post :blush

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I think his last 2 solo records, Elephant Jokes and We All Got Out of the Army are really good Pollard albums. If you are only looking at these two recordsa and the Boston Spaceship albums, then I think he's been on a roll the last two years. However, everything outside of those releases have been largely hit and miss.

 

Todd's production is just spent in my opinion. Same 'ol crap, in my opinion. I can only bare so much of it. I think it's a road block to his creativity. As an artist, you have to challenge yourself and I feel that by locking himself into this cycle, Pollard's stunted his artistic growth. No one is challenging him in his inner-circle of drunks. Just having a different producer and set of ears to challenge the man would likely lead to vast improvement in quality.

 

The proof is in the numbers, he is increasingly reaching a smaller and smaller audience thus marginalizing his importance. He may not care about that, but I be damned if the man and his music doesn't deserve a bigger audience.

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as a sort of afterthought, I wouldn't even dare bring this up on the GBV board - they crucify people for much less over there - attacking Bob and/or Todd is a death wish.

 

no, you're right ... Disarm the Settlers is an odd little place. some really cool people individually, but if you don't follow the precise set of accepted opinions agreed upon by the few dozen main posters - namely that everything pollard releases is better than the last thing he released and he's never put out a bad song and garbage like Superman Was a Rocker is way better than Alien Lanes - you're a fucking asshole. criticism is not allowed. if you don't like something, you're simply not welcome.

 

and make sure you mention how drunk you are, that's big over there. "I just drank two six-packs of Miller Lite. Just like Bob!"

 

anyway

 

BrianJeremy speaks the truth. the Boston Spaceships stuff has been real good, but the solo stuff is tired and very uneven, and the Todd Tobias connection has definitely lost its spark. and Circus Devils ... yeah, well, the hardcore fans pretend to like it, but it's 99 percent crap

 

pollard remains the greatest songwriter who ever lived. but his hit-miss ratio is as low as it's ever been

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DTS is a little hard to stomach sometimes when it comes to their over-enthusiastic opinion of Bob and their bragging about drinking. It's border line pathetic. I do wish some of the hardcore fans were more reasonable and realistic about Bob's output. He's great and all but not that great.

 

Yet, even Wilco has those type of over-the-top fans who think that Tweedy can do no wrong. However, Wilco fans as a whole seem to be more reasonable and are all-around the best community of fans out there, im my humble, non-biased opinion of course.

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pollard remains the greatest songwriter who ever lived. but his hit-miss ratio is as low as it's ever been

 

You've brought this up before, and I'm curious what makes you feel Pollard is the "greatest ever"?

 

I love the guy - he's a unique and ridiculously talented songwriter in a prolific and melodic sense, but lyrically I would not put him in the same league as a Bob Dylan or Neil Young. Not even close.

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You've brought this up before, and I'm curious what makes you feel Pollard is the "greatest ever"?

 

I love the guy - he's a unique and ridiculously talented songwriter in a prolific and melodic sense, but lyrically I would not put him in the same league as a Bob Dylan or Neil Young. Not even close.

 

what makes me think he's the best ever?

 

his songs?

 

believe me, i love dylan and neil young, and they're both in my all-time top-20 artists, but nobody has ever written as many incredible songs in such a staggering variety of styles over such a long period of time as pollard

 

it's not even close

 

anybody who can put out something like "question girl all right" on his 140th release is in a world of his own

 

dylan, his recent stuff has been passable, he hasn't blown me away probably since Time out of Mind - and that's gotta be 15 years ago? and most of his stuff actually since Slow Train has been uneven. that's 30 years ago.

 

neil, i dunno, the last record of his that i love is probably ragged glory, and that's 20 years ago

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what makes me think he's the best ever?

 

his songs?

 

believe me, i love dylan and neil young, and they're both in my all-time top-20 artists, but nobody has ever written as many incredible songs in such a staggering variety of styles over such a long period of time as pollard

 

it's not even close

 

anybody who can put out something like "question girl all right" on his 140th release is in a world of his own

 

dylan, his recent stuff has been passable, he hasn't blown me away probably since Time out of Mind - and that's gotta be 15 years ago? and most of his stuff actually since Slow Train has been uneven. that's 30 years ago.

 

neil, i dunno, the last record of his that i love is probably ragged glory, and that's 20 years ago

 

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree here...while I certainly LOVE Pollard, I cannot bring myself to put him above Dylan, Neil or someone like Tom Waits. However, it's nice seeing someone champion Pollard somewhere other than DTS. :cheers

 

Just for the hell of it, I'm curious to see what your 20 or so GREAT Bob songs since Normal Happiness mix would look like? I'm working on a mix for a friend who fell off the wagon after NH as well and need input.

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I can't hang with the Pollardheads around here, but I am thoroughly enjoying Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department right now. I have no idea where fans think that album sits in the pantheon.

In my opinion , it's up there pretty high. There are 7-8 solid pollard tracks that would make just about any best-of.

As for post NH, here's a mix I put together last August, that coincidentally enough, is just that. One caveat, it contains nothing from the last BSpaceships record, ZERO to 99. I would give him in that in its entirety.

 

Things Have Changed (Down in Mexico City) **

Stiff Me **

Death of The Party $$

Symbols and Heads **

Miles Under The Skin ++

Heavy Crown ##

Gratification To Concrete ()

Canned Food Demons ##

Go For The Exit &

Johnny Optimist **

Queen Of Stormy Weather ##

Jimmy **

No Island *

The Original Heart ()

Beauty of the Draft $$

The Killers ^^

Tattered Lily **

The Naked Wall $$

(All You Need) To Know **

Wealth And Hell-Being ()

 

 

Robert Pollard - Elephant Jokes **

Boston Spaceships - Planets Are Blasted ##

Robert Pollard - The Crawling Distance *

Robert Pollard - Off To Business ()

Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine &

The Keene Brothers - Blues and Boogie Shoes $$

Robert Pollard - Coast To Coast Carpet of Love ++

Robert Pollard - Standard Gargoyle Decisions ^^

 

Go here and scroll down for the link :

 

http://conqueror-of-the-moon.blogspot.com/2009/08/best-of-robert-pollard-2006-2009.html

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hey matt! speak kindly is incredible! it is very highly regarded by GBV obsessives. as close to a GBV record as you'll ever get outside GBV (except maybe the equally incredible Choreographed Man of War)

 

tight globes ... pop zeus ... slick as snails (maybe my favorite gillard solo ever) ... frequent weaver who burns ... soul train college policeman ... all classics

 

 

Just for the hell of it, I'm curious to see what your 20 or so GREAT Bob songs since Normal Happiness mix would look like? I'm working on a mix for a friend who fell off the wagon after NH as well and need input.

 

ok, this beats working, so basically post-GBV minus FaCE?

 

top 40 post-FaCE would look something like this:

 

1. Miles under the Skin (Coast to Coast Carpet of Love)

2. Death of the Party (Keene Brothers)

3. How Wrong you Are (Boston Spaceships, Zero to 99)

4. Question Girl All Right (Boston Spaceships, Zero to 99)

5. No Island (Crawling Distance)

6. Be it not for the Serpentine Rain Dodger (Takeovers, Turn to Red)

7. Beauty of the Draft (Keene Brothers)

8. Circle Saw Boys Club (Silverfish Trivia Version 1)

9. Let it Rest for a While (Boston Spaceships, Zero to 99)

10. The Blondes (Off to Business)

11. Serious Bird Woman you Turn me On (Normal Happiness)

12. I Feel Gone Again (Normal Happiness)

13. Life of a Wife (Coast to Coast Carpet of Lov)

14. Radical Amazement (Boston Spaceships, Zero to 99)

15. Jesus the Clockwork (Psycho and the Birds, All that Is Holy)

16. The Butler Stands for all of Us (The Crawling Distance)

17. Gratification to Concrete (Off to Business)

18. Father Is Good (Psycho and the Birds, All That is Holy)

19. Look at your Life (Moping Swans)

20. Pattern Girl (Circus Devils, Sgt. Disco)

21. Shadow Port (Standard Gargoyle Decisions)

22. Island of Lost Lucies (Keene Brothers)

23. It's Devine (Go Back Snowball, Calling Zero)

24. Supernatural Car Lover (Normal Happiness)

25. Folded Claws (Standard Gargoyle Decisions)

26. Meddle (Boston Spaceships, Zero to 99)

27. Piss along you Bird (Silverfish Trivia)

28. Tattered Lily (unreleased demo from RobertPollard.com)

29. Insane/Cool It (Takeovers, Turn to Red)

30. Our Gaze (Coast to Coast Carpet of Love)

31. You Satisfy Me (Boston Spaceships, You Satisfy Me)

32. Gratification to Concrete (Off to Business)

33. The Way Out (Boston Spaceships, Camera Found the Raygun EP)

34. Lost upon Us (Keene Brothers)

35. Look at Yourself (Moping Swans)

36. Late Night Scamerica (Psycho and the Birds, All that is Holy)

37. To the Path! (Off to Business)

38. Silk Rotor (We all Got out of the Army)

39. Enon Beach (Psycho and the Birds, We've Moved)

40. Weatherman and Skin Goddess (Off to Business)

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I can't hang with the Pollardheads around here, but I am thoroughly enjoying Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department right now. I have no idea where fans think that album sits in the pantheon.

 

most Pollardheads rank that album pretty high, I think. it's a great one...so melodic...

 

i loved when Bob would introduce that stuff live..."this is a song from Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department...because they might just save your burning asshole" :rotfl

 

thanks for the mixes, guys...I'll post mine when I'm done with it

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most Pollardheads rank that album pretty high, I think. it's a great one...so melodic...

 

i loved when Bob would introduce that stuff live..."this is a song from Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department...because they might just save your burning asshole" :rotfl

 

thanks for the mixes, guys...I'll post mine when I'm done with it

 

the 1999 tour GBV played like seven or eight songs from Speak Kindly. those were amazing shows with a ton of Fading Captain Series stuff in the set list

 

when they did And my Unit Moved totally straight with no sense or irony is what downright creepy

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I'm curious what makes you feel Pollard is the "greatest ever"?

 

 

just came across this blog post, no clue who it's by, but it kind of approaches putting into words what makes pollard special

 

http://grubtunes.blogspot.com/2010/03/superman-is-rocker-and-his-name-is.html

 

(by the way, superman is a rocker is the name of pollard's worst record ever)

 

Superman Is A Rocker And His Name Is Robert Pollard

Last year I fell in love with the music of Robert Pollard.

 

I’ve known about Guided By Voices for a long time. At least since I was 15 or something and asked my guitar teacher to bring me some of their albums after seeing the name online. I liked Aliens Lanes and Mag Earwhig! (not Bee Thousand though, which for some reason I always thought was overrated), but it wasn’t until the Boston Spaceships album The Planets Are Blasted that I started to really go nuts for this guy.

 

The Planets Are Blasted was the clincher because, unlike those cherished mid-90s GBV albums, it was (by Pollard’s standards) a lean 14 tracks long. Even if each song was like 1-minute long, the classic GBV albums are like 30 songs long and I just would always lose patience with them. I also liked how with The Boston Spaceships (and even later GBV work that at the time I hadn’t heard) the songs were actually fleshed out rather than just tossed off bits of genius.

 

The more I listened to Planets, the more I started to get why people worship Robert Pollard.

 

It’s because he is the Superman of songwriting.

 

Fact.

 

Though Pollard’s songs don’t (appear to) have any kind of deeper meaning and he’s not Bob Dylan writing stunning metaphoric imagery, or Lou Reed capturing the existential angst of city life, his grasp on hook craft and the abandon with which he rocks out may be unparalleled in all of rock music. When Pollard sits down to write a song, he never gets bogged down in any pretensions: he knows what he wants and what he wants are smashing rock hooks.

 

Song after song, Pollard’s verses are strong and melodic, but cut quickly to the chorus where he always seems effortlessly able to create incredible momentum and climax, often by repeating the same phrase over killer changes that manage to ‘lift’ it higher and higher. Sure, whatever, a lot of songwriters can write a solid chorus, but the sheer consistency with which Pollard can pump them out is astounding. It’s like he simply has the formula down for busting out pop songs. Or maybe he’s like that guy in Sandman who is driven mad by inspiration, except Pollard actually will turn all that inspiration into killer songs.

 

Like many 90s indie rockers, his lyrics seem chosen for their sound rather than their meaning, but Pollard just has this kind of earth shattering conviction noone else has. Even when he’s singing the most ridiculous thing, it always just sounds like, “yeah, totally.”

 

“He’s a terrible burden/On the quest for perfection/He’s such an infection/But it never gets him down,” he sings in “Johnny Optimist”.

 

Or another great line: “She may love her eggs,” from “Fair Touching” off Isolation Drills.

 

What do those lines even mean? They probably meant nothing when he wrote it, but you always know that even if he doesn’t mean it, he believes it. Maybe the first one means that he (the person being described) is a very far-from-perfect person, but he’s cool with that. Maybe the second means that she’s in love with youth and fearful of getting older and becoming infertile. Maybe. I don’t know. There’s always potential for meaning in Pollard songs, just like in everything apparently written nonsensically, but it’s that conviction of Pollard’s that truly makes him special. Even songwriters like Stephen Malkmus (who gets by on apathetic coolness) or Frank Black (who gets by on charisma and off-kilter-ness) who wrote some of the greatest indie rock of the 90s, simply don’t have the kind of conviction for material that is truly ridiculous like Pollard does. He seems like Jack Black’s character in School of Rock, a guy with a crazy record collection who’s very soul is possessed by rock; a kid who never grows up. Coincidentally, Pollard was also a schoolteacher before he started making enough money with his music to stop.

 

Of course, Pollard is also renown for being incredibly prolific, releasing at least a couple albums either solo or with one of his bands each year. He released more albums in 2009 than most bands release in a decade, or ever. Not all of these albums are great, and not all the songs on them are great, but they’re never that bad, and sometimes they are very awesome. One of the best things about being a Pollard fan is that you’re rarely kept waiting too long between one release and the next, and rarely are they disappointing. Even if he does release a shitty album, he’ll release another in a month that may very well kick ass. And he never changes but he’s never gotten boring either. If you keep doing something really, really well, who cares if you never change?

 

Actually that’s not true, Pollard has changed. His music has gone from short and scrappy to longer and finer tuned, from more rock to more pop, from 90’s production to 00’s production, and his songs cover a range of style like folk and grunge and different kinds of rock. But he’s never strayed from making the kind of balls-out, everybody-have-fun rock he’s always made and made better than anyone else at a pace that is beyond comprehension.

 

Superman is a Rocker. And His Name is Robert Pollard.

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just came across this blog post, no clue who it's by, but it kind of approaches putting into words what makes pollard special

 

http://grubtunes.blogspot.com/2010/03/superman-is-rocker-and-his-name-is.html

 

(by the way, superman is a rocker is the name of pollard's worst record ever)

 

 

I pretty much agree with all of what that guy said...don't get me wrong....I absolutely ADORE Bob. I broke out the film Watch Me Jumpstart tonight and went on an hour-long rant about how great Bob is to my girlfriend, who probably didn't even fucking GET it.

 

most people never will. the man is a rock n' roll machine...I can't think of any other artist I'd rather sing along and pump my fist in the air to. One of the true "geniuses" of our time - no doubt. I don't want anyone in this thread to think I'm slighting the guy in any way when I knock his recent Todd-stricken output...

 

that being said, We All Got Out of the Army is pretty great...."Red Pyramid" sounds like it came straight off Mag Earwhig!

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Here's my 30 song Best of recent Bob mix...I focused on most of the 2009 releases for some reason, with some older stuff thrown in because its so good.

 

Come Outside

Silk Rotor

When a Man Walks Away

Keep Me Down

The Blondes

You Satisfy Me

How Wrong You Are

Stiff Me

Canned Food Demons

Gratification To Concrete

Be It Not For The Serpentine Rain Dodger

Weatherman And Skin Goddess

No Island

Symbols and Heads

Talking Dogs

Miles Under the Skin

Question Girl All Right

Two Girl Area

Tattoo Mission

Tattered Lily

Red Pyramid

Big O Gets An Earful

Soggy Beavers

Hippsville (Where the Frisbees Fly Forever)

Newly Selected Dirt Spot

Epic Heads

Jimmy

Ready To Pop

(All You Need) To Know

Go For The Exit

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