erasing clouds

Guided By Voices, Get Out of My Stations

reviewed by Dave heaton

There's enough Guided By Voices releases out there on vinyl, CD, or both to guarantee a nearly infinite combination of re-issues and compilations to come, especially since the band still has plenty of fans willing to buy anything they release, and GBV captain Bob Pollard definitely seems aware of those fans as demographic to sell things to. But here's a re-issue that you should pay attention to even if you're not one of the die-hards. The 7-song EP Get Out of My Stations was released as a 7" single on Siltbreeze in 1994 and wasn't available on CD until now. It's a truly weird recording, one that helps demonstrate why GBV has such ardent admirers.

Back in the early 90s, GBV first started getting attention in two areas: as a red-hot live band that would plow through 20 songs without hardly stopping to breathe (while drunk, no less) and as a mysterious recording entity, releasing a stream of fuzzy, enigmatic recordings filled with melody and imagination but also a basement full of question marks. Get Out of My Stations the EP shows off the latter side of the band. The CD reissue is augmented with 4 bonus live tracks from 92, 93, and 94 showing off the group's arena-rock side (via the "classics": "Motor Away," "Hot Freaks," "Weed King" and "Postal Blowfish"). That pairing is a nice portrait of where they were at which also demonstrates the stark contrast between the two sides. But while the live tracks are decent, it's the EP itself which is worthy of your attention, as Get Out of My Stations is filled with ghostly, beautiful, vaguely experimental songs that to my ears stand as some of the most compelling that the group has ever done.

This EP is generally cast aside for its lack of radio-ready hooks or electric guitar muscle. And truthfully it has those only in fragments, as on "Mobile," which rewrites the Who as half-drunk aliens, or "Melted Pat," the one song from the EP that was catchy enough to make it into GBV's live set (if only briefly). What Get Out of My Stations has instead is two of the most flat-out gorgeous songs Pollard has ever written, "Dusty Bushworms" and "Spring Tiger." Both are melancholy and dreamy in mood, with lyrics that are surreal but have a sense of hope about them that is comforting when combined with such pretty textures (provided by fuzzy guitars, of course) and melodies.

"Scalding Creek" is almost as pretty but a bit scarier, with a mid-song crashing noise to wake you out of your dream. "Queen of Second Guessing" and the EP-closing "Blue Moon Fruit" have the same glow to them, but it's overwhelmed by Pollard's desire to be reckless and wild, which comes out as him distorting his vocals til they're a mess. It works on "Blue Moon Fruit" to make the song a puzzle you long to figure out but never quite can. On "Queen of Second Guessing" it works to make the song nearly unlistenable. But that's part of the appeal of GBV at the time, the feeling that they were on some sort of wild trip that we couldn't quite understand, that they were possessed by a weird creative energy; that they were, indeed, guided by voices and that those voices would lead them into bold, beautiful places.


Issue 16, October 2003

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