Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand LP
Once again this legendary slab of lo-fi indie rock is available again on vinyl. The umpteenth iteration for sure, but honestly, if for some reason you don't own this record already, or missed out on previous vinyl issues, do NOT snooze, cuz this really is one of THEE greatest indie rock records EVER, and most probably the finest moment from a band whose career is littered with finest moments.
And while we love LOTS of GBV albums (and singles and EPs), if forced to pick THE ONE record that best exemplifies what made Guided By Voices so special, it would have to be Bee Thousand. Originally released in 1994, Bee Thousand perfectly captured both sides of GBV, the frustratingly experimental fragmentary side, with short 30 second bursts of pop brilliance that burnt out before making it out of the first verse, exhausting in under a minute, the sort of hooks other bands would kill for and would most likely repeat 50 times in a song if they had come up with it themselves, and classic pop songsmithery, with gorgeously hooky, jangly pop gems, cobbled together from bits of the Beatles and the Kinks and other pop stalwarts, all filtered through GBV frontman Bob Pollard's non-sequitur flecked lyrical flights of fancy and a distinctly drunken desire to ROCK! It's impossible to describe exactly what makes this record so great. The songs sure, but also the way they are recorded, and the sequencing, and the way some songs are butted up right against each other, and some songs just cut off and trample all over the end of another songs. It's absolutely perfect. One of those rare records where the spaces between songs and the random bits of sonic detritus are jus as catchy as the songs themselves. Sort of like the way you would find yourself humming the drum fills in Nirvana songs, GBV records were a single dense collection of sounds and songs and parts and pauses and chunks of rock and pop assembled in a seemingly haphazard arrangement, but really, on closer inspection, it couldn't be any other way, and most certainly couldn't be played by any other band. The first ten minutes of Bee Thousand is possibly the finest opening salvo in musical history. "Hardcore UFO's," "Buzzards And Dreadful Crows," "Tractor Rape Chain," "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory." A 1-2-3-4 punch! And while the record is basically solid, no filler to be found, there are a handful of POP CLASSICS scattered throughout: "Echoes Myron," "Goldstar For Robot Boy," "Awful Bliss," "I Am A Scientist" and more... This record is definitely one of the best (if not THEE best) indie rock records of all time. Fuck Slanted And Enchanted. Sure that's a great record, but it's often irony-heavy and too cool. Bee Thousand is just a regular bunch of beer drinking yokels from Ohio who love pop music, love to rock and somehow struck gold. And somehow, even all these years later, Bee Thousand still sounds as fresh and exciting, and bafflingly and confusionally next level weirdo pop bats hit bonkers as it did the first time we heard it.