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Alien Lanes

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Alien Lanes

Artist: Guided by Voices
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: April 1995

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

Guided By Voices are one of the most exciting bands of the 90's. GBV leader is a genius for creating a rock hook. He's distilled rock songs down to their essence, getting back to the simple pure fun rock and roll can be. Many Guided By Voices songs don't last more than a minute but that still is time for a couple great verses and choruses. Pollard doesn't usually waste time with introductions or fadeouts. He get right to the song and when it's done its job, he moves onto another. Mag Earwhig!, Under the Bushes, Under the Stars and Bee Thousands all have many very good songs. They also have songs that drag, don't work or are just weird, so the best way to listen to GBV is with your cd player programmed or by making a compilation with 50 or 60 of your favorite songs. Alien Lanes has the highest percentage of quality songs. Most of Alien Lanes' 28 songs are interesting and a large number are great. Of course if you don't like one, you can just wait a minute and they'll move on to the next. Alien Lanes starts with A Salty Salute, apparently a tribute to a favorite drinking spot. The record gains speed with Watch Me Jumpstart with Pollard talking the vocals over a great raw, jamming guitar. In general, the production values are low budget but that helps make the sound real and immediate. Pollard has a magnetic, idiosyncratic personality, confidently spewing out the weird, quirky lyrics. As We Go Up, We Go Down is basically the chorus repeated over a big bass line, it hits its peak with Pollard singing "See the truth is just a lie" then "I speak in monotone, leave my f**king life alone." Game of Pricks is exhilarating rock with a great nonstop guitar line. A Good Flying Bird is a fun remembrance of a happy past accompanied only by a fast strumming guitar. Closer You Are has a bigger, boppy rock sound and then comes the even catchier Motor Away, where Pollard recommends just getting in the car and speeding to get away from your troubles.  My Valuable Hunting Knife, with a great, cheesy drum machine and another great, fast guitar line, really is a love song to Pollard's knife. Blimps Go 90 is a sweet sounding rocker spiced up with a violin. There are a couple other songs on the record but the last great one is My Son Cool, which is very enjoyably exciting with the band whaling on guitars and drums. Pollard's bandmate Tobin Sprout also writes and sings a couple of loose, fun songs on Alien Lanes. The musicians seem to be having a good time. It's fun, loose rock and roll. The guitars are great. The music is catchy and tough to resist. The simple, rocking one or two minute songs are a great alternative to most of the bloated rock out there. Guided By Voices have since made records with somewhat longer songs that generally retain the same unpretentious feeling. But no GBV record, and few records by anyone, keeps moving like Alien Lanes.



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