For the past 21 years, Magnet has been a source of incisive and interesting reporting on the national indie rock scene. This Thursday, the locally-produced magazine celebrates its 21st birthday with an epic show at The Trocadero, featuring a similarly long-running band, Guided by Voices. Since forming in 1986, the legendary Ohio band—helmed by the wily and creative Robert Pollard—has released no less than 500 songs, spanning 22 records, and three decades. In honor of Magnet’s 21 years, we present our top 21 GBV tunes—one for each decade of great music writing. Stream the entire playlist here—and read on for a description of what we chose.
1. “Sometimes I Cry” (from Forever Since Breakfast, 1986). “Sometimes I Cry” is one of the very first GBV songs ever released, and surprisingly one of their most honest. “Sometimes I cry because you don’t love me no more,” croons a young Pollard, sounding a little like Elvis Costello. It’s our first taste of the quirky auteur that would later emerge, and it sounds great.
(Note: “Sometimes I Cry” is not available on Spotify. It’s just that obscure. So here it is on YouTube instead. Enjoy!)
2. “Over the Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox” (from Propeller, 1992). GBV are not known for writing long songs, but “Over the Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox” clocks in at almost 6 minutes, making it one of their longest to date. It’s also totally epic, transitioning from easy-going lo-fi jangle to thick, indulgent jamming. If you ever wondered what Pollard would sound like fronting REM, this gives you a good idea. To quote the song: “It’s rock’n roll time!”
3. “Hot Freaks” (from Bee Thousand, 1994). I recently read a blog post (appropriately, in Magnet Magazine) about how “Hot Freaks” is the most overrated song in the GBV discography. I disagree. This short, 112-second nug is not only snarky and hilarious, it’s the only GBV song to contain a Pilam shout-out (ok, so maybe not really…but it totally sounds like Pollard is saying “Pilam,” instead of “Pie Land.”)
4. “The Queen of Cans and Jars” (from Bee Thousand, 1994). One thing I love about GBV is that their songs always evoke such brilliant imagery. “The Queen of Cans and Jars” is one of my faves, because the imagery is so strong—I imagine a small child, sitting atop a mountain of canned goods, a paper crown placed precariously on her head and a huge smile across her face. Also: that see-saw guitar line? So good. Continue reading →