The world is essentially divided into 3 groups of people when the band Guided By Voices (GBV) is mentioned:
- Who is GBV?
- I heard they’re great but they have like (literally) a thousand songs. I don’t even know where to start with something like that.
- Arguably the greatest rock band in American history? Love’em.
I’m pretty much going to assume most of you fall into group 1. So let me give you a short summary of this legendary band in bullet-point fashion. (You DID press play on the playlist above while reading this, right?)
Notes on GBV:
- Robert Pollard is the lead singer and constant in the band.
- #2 above has a point. Pollard, his side-projects and GBV are incredibly prolific, sometimes releasing 3 albums (or more) in a year. There are easily 1500+ songs in the catalog.
- As you might imagine, that kind of productivity can be pretty hit or miss.
- GBV has recorded much of their catalog with a very lo-fi aesthetic, recording on basic equipment that gives the music a lot of tape hiss and less than pristine sound quality.
- Most of their songs are pretty short; under two minutes is not unusual.
- Most bands find a couple of hooks, turn them into four minute songs, add a few more and call it an album. GBV writes 15 killer hooks and 10 decent ones, lets you hear each one for a minute or two, then moves on to the next song.
- There are a few albums that are absolutely perfect from beginning to end: Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under the Bushes Under the Stars.
- If you are looking for a single place to start, Human Amusements at Hourly Rates: The Best of Guided By Voices is where you go.
You don’t need any of that, though. Spend another ten minutes skimming the songs in the playlist linked at the top of this post. Listen to it the next couple of times you’re browsing the “World Wide Web” and you’ll be hooked for sure.
- Chart Attack: Primer: Guided By Voices
- The Quietus: King Shit: An Overview of Guided By Voices
- The Rock Robot’s Guide to Guided By Voices
TL;DR: GBV is one of America’s greatest rock bands. Check out the playlist above a few times and join the GBV club.