Indie icons Guided By Voices, featuring Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout (third and fourth from left), bring their road-tested rock show and massive setlist to the Stone Pony on Saturday, August 23.
(Expanded from story originally published in the Asbury Park Press August 22, 2014)
Their discography alone Wins Show Business, just in terms of sheer volume, with close to fifty LPs, EPs, box sets, comps and curiosities — seven of them since 2011, when a supposedly one-off reunion turned into a full-tilt frenzy of creativity. Add in all the non-LP singles, splits, solos, side bands and postal projects and you’ll easily pass 250 unique releases — an intimidating listening pile for which you’ll probably need to buy a bigger “desert island.”
As garage-rock elder statesmen and Jedi masters of the two-minute pop song, Guided By Voices have staked their unique place on the scene through quality even more than quantity. This, after all, is the band of middle-aged, working-dude family guys from Dayton, Ohio who first achieved national notice in the 1990s with a string of homegrown indie recordings (including “Bee Thousand,” “Alien Lanes” and “Vampire on Titus”) — lo-fi, four-track masterpieces recorded on the cheap in laundry rooms; burning with pent-up energy and bursting with surprising hooks that emerged from the sonic muck like the next evolutionary step of a band that was in it for the long term.
Those records were the work of what came to be known as the “classic” lineup of GBV — a configuration that teamed Robert Pollard (the founder, frontman and former public school teacher who’s been the band’s one constant through the years) with guitarist Mitch Mitchell, bassist Greg Demos, drummer Kevin Fennell, and a singer-songwriter-guitarist and visual artist by name of Tobin Sprout.
It’s that lineup (with Kevin March returning to replace the departed Fennell) that takes it inside The Stone Pony on Saturday, August 23 — a rare Jersey Shore jaunt for Guided By Voices; part of an itinerary that finds the pushing-sixty rockers competing on a youth-oriented playing field, and touring behind not one but two 2014 album releases.
Following hot on the heels of February’s “Motivational Jumpsuit,” the band’s most recent self-issued long player “Cool Planet” stands as something of a return to a rawer vibe; eighteen tracks that find Sprout continuing to step up his vocal and songwriting contributions to the mix — a set that, the guitarist concedes, carries an after-chill of the polar-vortex winter in which it was recorded.