Sound Advice: Guided By Voices with The Dopamines (Aug. 16)

Dayton Indie Rock legends play Woodward Theater in support of brand new album, 'How Do You Spell Heaven.'

click to enlarge Guided By Voices - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Guided By Voices
There is no logical, rational explanation for Robert Pollard. He creates constantly and consistently, whether it’s writing songs or crafting the collages that have graced the covers of a fair amount of his releases. April’s August by Cake, the first double-length Guided By Voices album, was characterized as Pollard’s 100th full-length release, which, in typical Pollard fashion, was followed almost immediately by last week’s release of the 25th GBV album, How Do You Spell Heaven, which is receiving even better reviews than usual. As a result, Pollard has been hailed in recent press as the most prolific songwriter in Rock history, although I would say he’s neck and neck with former Be Bop Deluxe guitarist Bill Nelson (look him up and be equally astonished at his extensive 36-year solo catalog).

While Pollard’s output over the past three decades has encompassed a broad sonic range — from ragged lo-fi basement recordings to high-end productions shaped by the likes of Ric Ocasek and Rob Schnapf — his areas of purest musical consistency are his erudite and often impenetrable stream-of-consciousness lyrical musings and his devotion to The Who. Is Robert Pollard the American Pete Townshend? There is a case to be made in that regard — the power chording, the energy, the volume and the traditional melodicism utilized in distinctly non-traditional ways all point to a singular Midwest talent steered by Hall of Fame classicism and skewed by his own funhouse prism of musical impulses.

Although that thread essentially runs through all of Pollard’s work, he compartmentalizes his reactions to his influences in a variety of projects — Circus Devils, Boston Spaceships, his solo work, among them — but he continues to reinvent, dismantle and revisit GBV, his most revered entity. The band itself is an ever-mutating collective of gifted collaborators and provocateurs, and the end result of any given recording can be chalked up to the chemistry of the players involved as much as Pollard’s master vision for the songs he’s written for them.

Where does How Do You Spell Heaven fit into this elaborate blueprint? It’s the latest brilliant magic bus that Robert Pollard and his cohorts have launched onto a new route. If you miss it, sit tight — there should be another one coming along any minute.


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