This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

John Sellers, Guided By Voices, and weirdo nerd obsessions

When it's lunchtime at work, I turn off my phone, shut my door, turn up my boombox ('cause you know I kick out the jams no matter where I am), and read while eating whatever delicious special the Korean couple in the downstairs deli has whipped up that day. Currently, I'm reading Perfect From Now On, the memoir of one John Sellers - music writer, Donkey Kong champ, and internet whore.

It's an alright book. Nothing too astounding, but I agree with his critical assessments - enough to the point that I read on in the hope that he continues to validate my own tastes. Probably the emotional centerpiece of the whole book is his trip to Dayton to spend the afternoon with champion drinker Robert Pollard, whose band Guided By Voices is the object of Sellers' obsession.

GBV is certainly a band that seems primed for the obsessives to slavishly follow. Most albums clock in at 30 songs, and as Sellers notes, "Pollard is the kind of guy who writes fives songs on the toilet every morning...and three of them are good." While I wouldn't go so far in that assessment (I've always seen Guided by Voices as Pavement with a Paul Weller fixation), they are still a wildly entertaining band with off-kilter lyrics that don't seem to make much sense on paper, but somehow to fit whatever mood you're in. Guess it's the power of the right words mixed with the right music - Underwater Moonlight would be dadaist if it weren't a rock 'n' roll album. Thus, lines like "the hole I dig is bottomless/but nothing else can set me free" become poignant instead of silly. (I still think it's a Simpsons reference. The only hint I'll give is "I have used this time to escape from your jail." I'm guessing Chris nails it before anyone else.)

It's funny the music we obsess over. Despite being a devout fan of the Ramones and the Smiths, my utter devotion to the Replacements is probably the most genuine. I mean, it's a story that's as old as rock'n'roll mythology itself. To wit, drunk, stoned fuckups show up late to gigs, vomit on their own shoes, drop the ball four times on major label money, play better gigs in basements than industry showcases, piss each other about, and generally live and perform in a ramshackle manner, all while crafting some of the best, most touching songs of any genre and of any generation. GBV appeal to the same kind of fan impulse - older dudes (Pollard being an elementary school teacher) put out go-nowhere lo-fi LPs recorded on two-tracks in the basement and were about to throw in the towel when a surprise gig resulted in a flurry of press and industry hype. They ended up putting out a series of critically acclaimed albums (some fuzzier and more in tune with their early basement output and others slicker than an oil patch after a rain storm) before calling it quits in 2004.

I will say that any band that releases an outtakes compilation (as in, not released anywhere else) that runs over 100 songs, you know there's gotta be some chinks, and there are. Despite hitting high after high after high, GBV were plagues by Pollard's insistence of putting loads of material on each release instead of adopting a system of tight quality control like Mission of Burma. That said, they put out some of the best indie rock of the 90's, and the strum-a-Fender-as-fast-as-you-can crop of post-millennial artists took more than one cue from them. They never hit it big, but then again, pioneers are never really meant to. Besides, they had one of their ballads on Scrubs, so you know Zach Braff likes to listen to them while he imagines standing around in the rain looking sad.

For people who are intoxicated in very small rooms.

Game of Pricks:

I Am a Scientist:

Motor Away (single version):

Titus and Strident Wet Nurse:

My Kind of Soldier:


Blogger AmyMeacham said...

Thanks! I enjoyed the 4 that could download. You've helped me to appreciate another 90's band more; I'd seen them twice, but the shows went on so long I was numb and I wasn't too familiar with the songs.

12:53 AM

Blogger Matt Ramone said...

Which one wasn't working?

12:55 AM

Blogger AmyMeacham said...

Titus. It still won't download this morning.

9:24 AM


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