Video Review: Let’s Go Eat The Factory – Guided By Voices
Yup! That’s the first video review of Sunken Treasures! Pretty exciting stuff, huh? I severely underestimated the difficulty and time of making a 12 minute video of a 21 song album so I was rushing to cover what I thought was important. However, before I filmed the video, I typed up a script/notes on the album so I could organize my thoughts and then did the video off the top of my head with my notes in mind. Since the video was semi-improvisational, I screwed up a couple things such as forgetting Kevin Fennel. Ah, well, sorry Kevin! I thought I should post the script so you can read along/ see some of the stuff that I couldn’t cover in the video. I’d love to hear what you think about the new Guided by Voices album!
Guided By Voices – Let’s Go Eat The Factory Review Notes
It’s the first GBV album in eight years!! The last Guided By Voices album was in 2004, Half Smiles of the Decomposed. More so, this is the first “classic” (since Under the Bushes, Under the Stars and the ones responsible for Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand) line up of Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennel and Greg Demos. Explain why that’s exciting.
Explain my own love of Bee Thousand. Guided By Voices are the Hobos with the Golden Voice of Lo-Fi. It isn’t even that silly of a metaphor! They’re frequently drunk. They have crappy equipment to record on (but not particularly because they can’t afford it). They’re just as incoherent. Explain the guitar going off in Bee Thousand’s Hardcore UFO’s. They’re lovable scamps. I think they are a personification of one of the reasons why I love independent music and why it interests me; brilliant people being as resourceful as they can to express themselves. Sure, it may sound like they’re recording underwater in a tunnel while their amplifiers short out, but if you can get past the horrible 4-track, Pollard and crew are capable of churning out some fantastic stuff.
Guided by Voices are a grab bag. For every I Am A Scientist there are two or three directionless, meandering, and pointless songs. They’re an exercise in faith and patience. They’re like throwing a fistful of darts at a dart board, some will completely miss the board and go clattering to the floor, some will hit the board in the 5, 10, and 20 point spots, and maybe one or two will land smack dab in the bullseye. They’re always surprising and filled with noises, ideas, and lyrics that certainly won’t be found anywhere else.
Let’s start it off with…
Laundry and Lasers! Ah, I love that machine like rhythm underneath everything else. It sounds like a generator or something. Pollard sounds just like he always did. singing about Laundry and Lasers, whatever that means. Then the guitars kick in like a kick starting engine and boy I can imagine GBV as the hero riding out into the sunset and right before he disappears over the horizon, he decides that he isn’t quite ready to take a nice quiet retirement telling little dogs to get along so he turns around, kicks his horse into a full out sprint, and charges back the way he came. GBV aren’t messing around. They’re back, guns a-blazin’!
Ah, it’s just so nice to have that same crunch and power backing Pollard. I can’t understand a single word, really, but I don’t care. There’s the Album’s title! There’s him talking about Laundry again! BUT LISTEN TO THOSE GUITARS! SO MUCH NOISE! Ahh!
The Head is next. I love how you can hear the buzz of the bass. It sounds like the crappy set up we have in my college dorm-room band (which is like a garage band but with less professionalism and class). When I play the bass, it vibrates the drums next to me and I love that I can hear that noise in the recording. That and the simplicity of the song is pretty appealing. GBV play music that I could play. They record music in a way that I would record it. They’re doing things that I could do if I spent a little time at it. And dig that piano! I don’t remember too much piano in GBV.
DONUT FOR A SNOWMAN! YES! There’ a half-assed tootin’ flute for no apparent reason. It’s my favorite part of the song, actually. It’s so stupid and uneven with the rest of the song that I can’t help but think that someone thought it was a good idea to include, put it in, and left it there. Its inclusion is equivalent to everything I think is funny at 4 in the morning. Nothing is truly as funny as what I think it is at that point and when I try to tell others the HILARIOUS story of what happened to me the next day, it isn’t funny. That flute probably sounded like a good idea at 4 in the morning but as the song continued to be developed, it just didn’t make any sense anymore. I love the amateurness of the flute like the band are simply guys screwing around in a basement and somehow their drunken, stupid, in joke demos were circulated nationwide. I love how GBV remind me of listening into the pet project of a group of really good friends who also happen to be pretty good musicians. But back to the song! This is my favorite song on the album. Image of a little girl running around and trying to deliver the ice cream. Krispy Kreme donut, as sweet as life can get. “She loves the Good Humor MANNNNN! HE says, they don’t call us that!” Is it silly that it is almost touching? After such a ridiculous song I feel elated that a girl delivered the donut to a snowman? Ah, it’s just so silly and stupid and catchy that I absolutely love it. It brings a smile to my face.
Spiderfighter! Those knife guitars slicing back and forth and lyrics buried under waves of sound. There’s that piano again. Huh. I love the slow down and ballad that emerges from a completely turbulent soundscape. It’s like someone smashed Rod Stewart into a Dinosaur Jr. song, said, what the hell and just went with it. It is really baffling and immensely enjoyable. I mean, who the heck does that? They slap this tearjerking kind of ballad onto a total hack and slash guitar attack. I can’t get enough of it. I grin just out of the sheer defiance and courage that it takes to do something that defiant of all normal sense. Even better is the fact that it works! It’s a good song and I actually get that look up in the sky look after the song ends. Here, I’ll demonstrate… “Now is the time, I make up your mind….”
Hang Mr Kite. I like the new instruments! There’s a violin! And a cello! I mean, what the heck? It kind of brings me out of my romatic, hopelessly broke romantic vision of GBV but I really, really like the new sounds! Other than that, I like the lyrics and they’re quite evocative but it’s not a real standout track.
God Loves Us. I’m pretty sure this song’s title and… uh, only words are a from the Benjamin Franklin quote of “Beer is living proof that God love us.” Interesting quote to take from especially because of the influential role beer has in the creation of pretty much anything GBV does. Bob Pollard does love his brew… How can you not dig this song? It’s all chorus! None of that verse nonsense to muddle up the best part of every song, right? Straight to the goods.
The Unsinkable Fats Domino. This was the first single from the album and the thus the first song I heard from Let’s Go Eat… It sounds so much like “classic” GBV that the two months that I had to wait were unbearable. There’s all the Bee Thousand characteristics, lyrics that are have the just the right mix stream-of-consciousness and significance to feel like maybe if you just had a couple more words, you could understand what Pollard was trying to say. I love the lyrics of Pollard, when he’s really on top of it, they make me feel like if I was just a little bit smarter or had a couple more clues, and I could understand the potentially insightful comments he was making. He’s a drunken philosopher, spewing insight in his incoherence.
Who Invented the Sun. Cool title. It feels like it could drift away into the air because it’s so quiet and understated. “Don’t let them tell you to send me away and break us apart.” I’m not a huge fan of the song, but I also don’t hate it. It’s pretty but kind of a throw away.
The Big Hat and Toy Show. It’s Pollard’s foray into the dominion of Beefheart: spoken word, jagged guitars and ominous bass, and some vocal tricks. While I like some of GBV’s “weirdest stuff” like this song (I love “Hot Freaks” from Bee Thousand) but I just don’t like this one that much.
Imperial Racehorsing. Now this one, this one I like. The drums at the beginning sound like the opening to an 80’s arena rock song (hmmmm… I wonder if Pollard did that consciously) and the guitars are insistent and I love that breakdown. It’s such a strange song (who stops a song with that kind of momentum?) and that’s why I like it. Is there a Peter Gabriel reference in there? Horns! Holy moly! As the song hits the chorus and repeats it for the rest of the runtime, there’s an absolutely vicious guitar solo that, once again, sounds like it was from the 80’s and then it’s done. GBV love short songs and often the average two minute run song is good but every once and a while they just hit the right spot and I’m left hoping that the song would go on for another two minutes or so. This song is one of those songs.
How I Met My Mother. I guess Pollard is a fan of sitcoms. Sure, it’s a clever joke and concept but it’s kind of a one trick pony. Haha, that’s clever that he named it after HIMYM. Hahah, I like pie, too. It’s another throw away. It’s a So, you think you can… whisk eggs instead of a flagpole program.
Waves, on the other hand, is ready for prime time. There’s the sound of a furious humming bee stuck in a microphone and I can’t understand a single word. However, the rhythm of the words and that damn catchy constructed wall of sound make me repeat this song at least twice when I listen to the album. Sing it with me! “As the waves crash round me…”
My Europa. It sounds like an outtake from the classic GBV albums but I think it should have stayed an outtake. I love the “My sweetheart sleeps a wink. 12 minutes is a wink.” It sounds like a TMBG quote. The chorus is pretty catchy but that’s about it…
Chocolate Boy. Where My Europa sounds like an outtake that should have stay buried, Chocolate Boy sounds like a lost gem from classic GBV albums. It’s very vivid, somehow sad, and I find myself wondering wishing I could hear more about the tragic Chocolate Boy.
The Things That Never Need. HEY! It’s the obligatory spoken word piece of the GBV albums! Two boys talking about the apparent timelessness of difference appliances. Interesting, sure. Entertaining, no. The album begins to drag a little at this point.
Either Nelson. It’s anthemic and I like the return of our friend, The Piano. Pollard sure does sound defiant, doesn’t he? Too bad that I just don’t find this song interesting. Doesn’t he sound like Peter Gabriel at parts of this song? Maybe it’s just me.
Cyclone Utilities (Remember Your Birthday). The riff is very cool. Pollard sounds like Peter Gabriel again. It’s another throw away.
Old Bones. This song sounds so much like a Lamb Lies Down Genesis song. I think it’s the reoccurring thoughts of Peter Gabriel that I keep getting from Pollard’s singing. I really, really like this song. That drone is strangely complementary to the rest of Pollard’s achingly sweet love song. The song sounds like it was recorded from a broken music box, but I think that’s part of the charm. It’s like finding a love letter between your grandparents. Old, surprising, a little strange but, mostly, very touching.
Go Rolling Home. “They say you need to bleed to go rolling home.” “They say you need to hurt to go rolling home.” I can’t help but think this is a commentary on the difficulties of returning to GBV for all of them. AND THERE’S A DOG!
The Room Taking Shape. “And it’s all taking shape in the room.” While it may not be a very gooooood song, that lyric is the most exciting I have heard on this whole album. I sincerely hope that Pollard and the rest of GBV feel the lyric is self-referencing. Finally, the band is together and they’re clicking again, coming closer to the polished sloppiness and lovable drunk loser persona heyday of their older albums. I sincerely hope that Pollard believes in what he is singing; that the magic of GBV is returning and taking shape in the room of whoever’s house they are recording in.
We Won’t Apologize for the Human Race. While the last couple of songs may have been hit or miss, this is a return to form of GBV. It’s silly, pounding, and a major ear-worm. It’s one of the best songs on the album. And I love the “ohhhh ahhh ohhhhs!” and the mock seriousness of the chorus.