Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday 8-Track

One of the books I am currently reading is Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life by John Sellers. Not to slam the guy, because I am enjoying the book, but it basically reads like a second-rate Chuck Klosterman book who just so happens to be a colleague of his at Spin. And if you don't have a pretty serious relationship with the material (i.e. the music he gushes over) then the book is almost unreadable. That being said, I kinda like it. The book originally caught my eye only because of the title which is lifted from Built To Spill's third album -- I have an ongoing debate with a friend who feels that Perfect From Now On is the band's masterpiece while I contend that the follow-up, Keep It Like A Secret, is even better. These arguments involve a lot of incredulity and "Can you believe this fucking guy?" glances to bystanding friends who shrink away and treat us like lepers during these often public moments.

Anyway, I see the title on the spine and guffaw rather loudly in the middle of the store because I think that someone has actually bothered to write a biography on Built To Spill. To be sure, they are one of my favorite bands and I revere Doug Martsch's quirky guitar genius but if I had to guess, I would say that they would make for one of the least interesting biography subjects ever published. Although it turns out that the book is really about one man's obsession with a certain broadly define genre and specifically New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths, Pavement, and the band to whom he devotes the most ink, Guided By Voices. I have now been inspired to offer my own meditation on why I too think that GBV is the greatest band in the world (a band that I have flown across the continent to see on their final tour and who forced me to buy two copies of the same "greatest hits" compilations because one was track-sequenced chronologically and the other was sequenced by GBV mastermind Bob Pollard for maximum effect) but for now, I devote an entire Friday 8-Track to them.

"Bulldog Skin" - Mag Earwhig

The song that started it all for me and the reason I fell in love. I got on the GBV bandwagon late in the game and in retrospect, this album marks a departure from the homemade lo-fi sound of their "classic" era. But I don't think I would have been ready for that if I hadn't first been exposed to the big sound on this album, particularly the playing of then-new guitarist Doug Gillard. The unconventional yet seemingly perfect guitar solo of this tune had me at hello.

"Echos Myron" - Bee Thousand

If someone asked me to describe GBV in about two minutes, I would simply play "Echos Myron" and grin. The songwriting is absolute Bob Pollard and contains a fantastic lyrical juxtaposition between the somewhat poetic line "Man of wisdom and man of compromise. Man of weak flesh in armoured disguise," followed shortly thereafter with one of my all-time favorite Pollard moments, "And shit yeah it's cool!"

"Glad Girls" - Isolation Drills

Want to see 1200 people all jump in unison? The song opens with Bob yelling the intro "Hey-ey Glad..." and the band comes crashing in on "Girls!" and everyone goes insane and it takes you a moment to realize that you are pumping your fist and screaming every word. But when you do it is sublime. I dare anyone to listen to this song (cranked up) and not bob his head.

"Game of Pricks" - Alien Lanes

If you can write a good hook with a great lyric or great hook with a good lyric, you can rule the world. Bob is king. "I climb up on the house, weep to water the trees."

"Cut-Out Witch" - Under the Bushes Under the Stars

I like to think that this song is about a magical witch made of construction paper that sort of "comes to life." Although it sounds a lot spookier than that and rocks way harder than anything I ever made with safety scissors and edible paste.

"Exit Flagger" - Propeller

I am running out of different ways to say, "GBV is the singular exemplar of indie rock and here is another reason why." (And yes, I am aware of how prone I am to making hyperbolic declarations.)

"I Am A Scientist" - Bee Thousand

Now I am getting way too worked up and need to drop everything and rock out in my apartment for at least an hour. (Best New Year's Ever: '01-'02 NYE spent in my basement shit-faced on Iron City with nothing but my stereo and every GBV album I owned. There may still be a collection of voicemail messages documenting that night's descent into madness.) The main reason I flew to San Diego to see their farewell tour was because of one line in this song.

"Motor Away" - Alien Lanes

That's it, time to rock. Enjoy!

4 Comments:

At 3/28/2007 8:38 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

No comments for days...perhaps GBV is not as widely lauded in the circles we blog in.

 
At 3/28/2007 9:02 AM, Blogger Jason said...

A perfect microcosm of GBV's real world level of commercial success. You could go to a show and meet a group of people who obsessively believed that they were witnessing the greatest band in the world (myself included) and then step back into reality where 99.9999% of the population could care less.

And that is indie rock...

 
At 4/15/2007 10:53 PM, Anonymous Ms. Write Again Soon said...

Um, is it just me or has it been MANY days since the last post? I'm imagining all sorts of sordid behavior that's keeping you from your regular blogging duties. Passed out from copious amounts of alcohol in your new place? Robbed of all your CDs and unable to create a new Friday 8-track? Fired for looking at porn on your work computer? Do tell...

 
At 4/16/2007 7:20 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I wish it was that interesting. The boring truth is that I have been so busy at work that I can't finad any time to post during the day. And when I get home in the evening the last I want to do is sit in front of my computer in an attempt to formulate my asinine social commentaries.

Blogger ennui?

 

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