Some of you may know that I’m a songwriter, musician, producer with a bunch of albums out (and a taste of “success” along the way that I’m still proud of!). And I’m still pursuing it all because I want to and — frankly — need to. Thus I fully understand how challenging it is to get your music out there. Its a process. I am always impressed with musicians who make it happen — releasing new music — against all odds. I feel safe saying that The King of Making Things Happen has to be Robert Pollard, the wizard behind indie rock lo-fi legends Guided By Voices.
Robert has a bazillion side projects in his cottage industry — Boston Spaceships, Circus Devils, his own Fading Captain series of solo archive releases, and of course endless new solo works like the fine fine Moses on a Snail, which I reviewed a while back.
Last week I was driving to LA and popped in a sampler disc I’d gotten at a recent music conference, and the fourth track just jumped out of the speakers, forcing me play it over and over at least 10 times before letting the disc continue on its way through the remaining 14 tracks. When I got to my destination I looked up the band, and sure ’nuff it was another side project of Robert Pollard’s, this one called Lifeguards.This is the second Lifeguards album, a collaboration between Doug Gillard — who was in the 2nd incarnation of Guided By Voices — and Pollard.
This album isn’t a throwaway — it rocks like nobody’s business. Gillard apparently recorded all the basic tracks and sent them off to Pollard, who added words and melodies on top of it all. A really incredible way of songwriting (The Smiths’ johnny Marr used to write this way with Morrissey, apparently). This might as well be a new-era GBV album. The opening three tracks, “Paradise Is Not So Bad,” “Nobody’s Milk,” and “(Doing) The Math,” are just fantastic. “Product Head” sounds like what might happen if Gang of Four jammed with The Who circa 1973. Most of the album is very accessible and fun. “You’re Gonna Need a Mountain” sounds like a cross between John Cale-era Velvets and early New Order, and “Sexless Auto” is just… well… listen to the clip below for yourself. “Trip The Web” sounds like what might happen if Ray Davies of The Kinks had collaborated with T-Rex’s Marc Bolan circa 1972 — replete with strummy acoustic guitar alongside scorching electric guitar and happy hand-claps and harmonies. “What Am I?” ends the album on a grand driving psychedelic note that just sends shudders down the spine
I’d love to see Lifeguards tour as a band. Heck, I’d love to see Pete Townsend collaborate with these guys.
Find this. Get this. It’s just $10 at Pollard’s website. You have no excuses.
Dive in. The water is great.