Celebrating 21 Years of Magnet with Guided by Voices: Our Top 21 GBV Tunes

Guided by Voices
Guided by Voices

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!”

Young GBVs
Young GBVs

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 →


Magnet Magazine is throwing a birthday bash at The Troc with Guided By Voices, Surfer Blood, Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus | photo by Chris Durbin
Titus Andronicus | photo by Chris Durbin

Indie music magazine Magnet turns 21 this year and it is gearing up to celebrate in a big way.  The locally founded and run publication has invited indie rock veterans Guided By Voices to headline a birthday show at The Trocadero on May 22nd, supported by alt rockers Surfer Blood and Jersey punk rockers Titus Andronicus.  Tickets for the 21+ event will be available here.  Check out videos from the performers below.

Continue reading →


Black Francis to Magnet: Philly didn’t get an encore ’cause Philly didn’t earn an encore

IMG_7315Last month, alt-rock icons Pixies played a double-header show in Philly, following up a lively stripped-down Free at Noon at XPN with an electrifying headlining set at the Electric Factory.

Well, electrifying except for one thing. There was no encore. The set approached thirty songs and was nearly two hours long, but when the band left the stage, it left for good. Here’s how our Chris Sikich described the scene at the time:

After what seemed to be a joyous end to “Nimrod’s Son,” with Santiago having great fun with his guitar and even exchanging his hat with a smiling Lenchantin, the band did not return — despite playing an encore at every other show on the tour, the crowd loudly clapping and calling for more, and the stage seemingly set for a return.

Certainly ruling the soundwaves is hard work and not always satisfying for all. But even though the abrupt ending left a sour taste for some at the end of the night, the rare delicacy of Pixies’ ferocious sound is destined to bring fans back as long as the band deigns to tour.

Chris was more diplomatic than commenter Pat Bateman, who weighed in to say that the Pixies earlier acoustic performance was:

Unlike the evenings performance @ the Electric Factory where they hardly acknowledged the crowd and then unceremoniously walked off and never came back for an encore. Tweeted by Black Francis yesterday we weren’t enthusiastic enough as a crowd but now deleted. What a douchebag. #howtoloseafanin140charactersorless

The story develops with the latest issue of Magnet Magazine, out today. It features an epic, 7,000 word cover story interview by Jonathan Valania (of Phawker fame), who sat down with Black Francis backstage at the Factory show in question and (among other things) got a very honest explanation of what happened from the artists’ perspective. The juicy pull-quote goes like this:

The crowd didn’t earn an encore. I’m old-school that way. I’m Vaudeville. I find that when the audience is younger, they want you to hold their hand and smile and kick the beach ball around, and we don’t do that. We don’t do jazz hands.

On the one hand, the tradition of the rock show encore is played out and tiresome. It’s like, come on, we stand there, we cheer, but we know you’re coming back. Because EVERYBODY comes back. Because it’s expected. So kudos to Pixies for taking that back and reserving the encore for times when it actually means something.

On the other hand: ouch.

To read more of the interview, which also touches on Kim Deal’s departure from Pixies with similar candor, check out an excerpt over at Phawker. For the entire thing, find yourself a copy of Magnet at your local newsstand or order one online. Below, a video from happier times and our Free at Noon concert.


Vote for Nightlands in Magnet Magazine’s weekly poll of most-anticipated releases

ballot box
Cool stock photo, brah!

As you might have noticed in the post right below this one (seriously, do you really need a link? It’s right there!), The Key is pretty excited about tomorrow’s release of Nightland’s debut LP, Forget The Mantra, on Secretly Canadian. The label just sent out a tweet asking fans to vote for the band in Magnet‘s recent poll of most-anticipated releases of the week.

As it currently stands, Nightlands isn’t doing so hot, with only 7 total votes (which is worth a sad 0%). Meanwhile, Tom friggin’ Howie has 31% of the votes with 638. Tom Howie? Are you kidding me? Come on, Philadelphia—you’re not going to let that acoustic-guitar-toting Canadian singer-songwriter walk away with this week’s honors, are you? Doesn’t Dave Hartley deserve better than that?

We’ve done our part. Have you?