Rock and roll has always been about excess, where the listener thrills to bacchanalian tales sung by their favorite electric troubadour. But as it enters its seventh decade, this beloved popular musical art form has been diluted by any number of unrewarding additions and reductions. Thankfully, there are still those champions who fly the R&R flag proudly, among them such (relative) young bucks as Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees. But leading the charge against bloodless, vapid music is General Robert Pollard and his crack squad of bandmates, Guided By Voices!
Pollard’s innate understanding of rock’s excesses extends in many different directions, not the least of which is in terms of productivity. Who else would dare put on a concert with the promise of playing a hundred songs, as Guided By Voices did here in LA over 4 & ½ hours this past New Year’s Eve. Since GBV’s first record in 1986, Pollard has released well over 100 albums and an uncountable number of singles and EPs, either as GBV or his various solo/side projects, and he shows little sign of stopping, with the announcement of the latest Guided By Voices album, Surrender Your Poppy Field, due to be self-released on February 20.
To celebrate, we are happy to premiere “Volcano,” a track from the forthcoming album. Pollard’s prolific nature is not merely limited to sheer quantity; he is also adept at providing a diversity of styles, whether straight-up ravers or more melancholic meditations. And he knows the best way to showcase the songs, ranging from intimate, lo-fi productions to full-bodied studio jams, and the new album is the perfect sonic encyclopedia of the band’s many facets. “Volcano” begins with a plodding rhythm, but it evolves and builds, with a guitar-lick here and Pollard’s tuneful croon there, until it crescendos with a chorus worthy of the Pixies or Nirvana. It’s GBV in a microcosm, and each new song, each new album adds to their rock & roll legend.