One thing is for certain, this isn’t like any other Neighbor Lady you’ve encountered. Not by a longsho.t Quirky monikers aside, the Atlanta, Georgia outfit just released its debut long-player in For The Birds (Park The Van)which plays out like a much needed reprieve from the world around us. It draws strength from its delicate nature. The quartet reaches new heights surrounding the songs that comprise its album, with Emily Braden’s voice leading a swirl of colorful instrumentation. But it’s not done without direction or intent, as the band’s song structures are meant to carefully allure listeners and entice them with melodious harmonies and intricate compositions. That’s not all though, the album comes with an additional batch of instrumentals of 9 of the songs. It almost leaves one thinking these are additional tracks although they’re not. It’s 2 for the price of one.
Youth is wasted on the young. Time and time again, we’re faced with disappointment from new groups attempting to prove themselves different from their predecessors. As it happens often, they fail with glaring effect. One album does NOT an artist make, it’s consistency and growth. With that said, there are moments we all must question, like “Is the new album by Guided By Voices any good?” and, “Will there be a moment we’re all disappointed by Robert Pollard and his GBV? It’s the pessimist in us all that expects someone or something to fall flat at any given moment. It’s just human nature.
With over 30 albums to its credit – and that’s not including all the “side” projects under various monikers – there doesn’t seem to be a slow down for the prolific outfit. Tremblers And Goggles By Rank, is the band’s second album this year, and if you thought or you were possibly hoping for something less than stellar, you’d be emphatically wrong. Yes, it’s as simple as that. It begins with “Lizard On A Brick Wall,” with a hypnotic guitar riff that’s captivating from the get-go. No seriously, it builds to into a rhythm that won’t let go of the senses, and is the album’s introduction for a reason. We all see what the band is doing here with its grandiose psych garage rock and Pollard’s odd yet enthralling lyricism. Does it make sense? No. Does it have to? Not at all. What it does have is an absurd amount of swagger, more than Jimmy ever had (Yes, I’m well aware his name was spelled with two “A’s” and ending with a “T” but you get the idea.)
One thing we could always be assured of is GBV’s penchant for glam-styled songwriting tossed into the mix. The band isn’t throwing on eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick but creating songs that are timeless is imbued in its blood. We hear it in its “Unproductive Funk” littered with psychedelia. But it’s “Goggles By Rank,” with Townsend-like prowess that shifts the reign of power and command. The band obviously removes any doubt as to who now leads the way in songwriting and instrument prowess. Yes, Guided By Voices is that unassuming master of sound, in all aspects.
If anything can be said of Guided By Voices, it’s the band’s ability to pull from a variety of sources and create a sound that’s uniquely recognizable as its own. This is what Tremblers And Goggles By Rank is able to do. GBV is able to be as dramatic as it wants to be without any pretense allowing Tremblers to be as fantastic as it wants to be.
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They say time and distance make the heart grow fonder but what they don’t tell you is out of sight, out of mind. It happens on occasion, people remember you for the last thing you’ve done/released, paying less and less attention to any previous accomplishments. It happens, and sometimes it’s unwarranted, discarding old releases or allowing them to collect dust in musty basement. We’re going somewhere with this I promise.
It’s been a few years since the world discovered Momma, the band fronted by core members Etta Friedman & Allegra Weingarten, who has just released its third long-player Household Name (Polyvinyl Records) but if this record is any indication, no one is forgetting Momma anytime soon. At first glance, one might think the band has shifted its direction somewhat with a much more tender approach with the opening “Rip Off,” the band coos gently over sweet guitar notes and strumming with percussion. The song quickly builds around the melody as the song crescendos before a clever dynamic shift. It’s a cacophony of sugary decadence and sets the mood for the rest of the album. Sort of. The band’s previous release, 2020’s Two Of Me, was a bad ass concoction of gritty rock smothered in pop sensibilities, but this time around Momma seems to flip the script, literally allowing its pop explosiveness to take the lead over the mettle of the strength in the rock.
Momma doesn’t need to prove it can storm the stage like just about anyone else out there, instead the band opts to shake things up with hooky deliveries like on “Medicine” where the band plays with its sonic delivery with the inclusion of sparseness of instrumentation at points, allowing its infectiousness to take hold. The band never eschews its power which is ever present, but doesn’t allow it to take control of the song. The group does play with dynamics a bit more with “Motorbike,” which plays into the band’s strengths we’ve all become familiar with, but again, the soft allure of its vocals come into play, guaranteeing listeners drawn into the siren call. While the band seems to offer up a pattern within its songwriting, predominantly opening songs with a quick shift in dynamics, it doesn’t change how the band maneuvers around the harder edge with sultry voices, although “Spiders” mainly edges over clever melodies while including volumous instrumentation for effect. It definitely works to Momma’s advantage.
Fans of Momma should rejoice as the band moves into territory that’s both familiar and unfamiliar, but it’s all completely unrestrained. With Household Name, the group takes a chance altering its music and comes out on top.