Thursday, October 20, 2005

Robert Pollard's Music From "Bubble"

Yesterday, I stayed home from work with what could possibly be Avian Flu, Monkey Pox or just the sniffles. I’m never sure. The high point of an otherwise dull convalescence (other than catching up on season one of Lost) was the arrival from Luna Records of Music from "Bubble" by Robert Pollard.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, Bubble is the latest film from Steven Soderberg, who is a longtime fan of Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices. In fact, Soderberg used another Pollard composition over the closing credits of Full Frontal. So, when working on his latest film, Soderberg commissioned Pollard to compose music. And the music has been released as a six song CD.

First impressions, a great post-GBV release. Two of the four tunes, "Boring About" and "Search-light Pickups" are instrumental, both simple acoustic guitar- based pieces that actually scream for some kind of magical Pollard vocal melody. But no such luck.

The release kicks off with "All Men Are Freezing" a great mid-tempo tune that is reminiscent of the last few GBV releases with the great kiss-off lyric "For all you’ve done/I will miss you anyway."

Next is the first of two versions of "747 Ego," the second being "747 Ego (Oh Yeah)." Both start with "Take Me To the River" drums and go into great dirty guitars and could very well be the "big rock" sound Pollard has been seeking for years. The "Oh Yeah" version is the superior version thanks to some great backing vocals.

"I’m No Child," the remaining song from the release is probably the most peculiar with Pollard singing in a high and sometimes uncomfortable vocal register. One gets the feeling that the song could collapse under the effort. But by time you get through to the end, you feel as though you may have witnessed possibly one of the greatest moments in a catalog of songs that has had many great moments.

Music from "Bubble" is further proof of the songwriting prowess of Robert Pollard. With From A Compound Eye scheduled for release on Merge next year, the two new post-GBV releases from Pollard demonstrate that this master songwriter has still got the gift.

And, speaking of staying power, here are the ten last songs my iPod played:

1. "Trampled Rose" by Tom Waits
2. "Henry Lee" by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
3. "Too Tough To Die" by the Ramones
4. "I Let Love In" by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
5. "Simple Stuff" by Echo & the Bunnymen
6. "She Said She Said" by the Beatles
7. "Dead Cloud" by Guided By Voices
8. "I Was a Kaleidoscope" by Death Cab For Cutie
9. "We Are The Dead" by David Bowie
10. "Clampdown" by The Clash


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