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Selective Service

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Album Review

Selective Service is a collection of three limited-edition vinyl singles (all out of print) that were available via the Fading Captain Series label, an imprint devoted to the prolific output of Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices). First up is GBV's live rendition of "Dayton, Ohio-19 Something and 5," a melancholic look back at the easygoing days of old that first appeared on the classic Pollard/Tobin Sprout team-up, Tonics and Twisted Chasers. The three home demo recordings that follow feature Pollard alone with an acoustic guitar, and are easily the most intimate recordings he has released in years. Although this occurrence may cause the fanatical to salivate at the thought of Bee Thousand-era lo-fi brilliance, there's just as much focus on his intricate plucking (who knew he was such a fine guitarist?) as there is on melody, with nary a chorus to be found. The two Airport Five 45s include the best songs culled from the disappointing Tower in the Fountain of Sparks (the immensely catchy tunes "Total Exposure" and "Stifled Man Casino), the first Pollard/Sprout collaboration since Tonics and Twisted Chasers. Both "Total Exposure" and one of its B-sides, "Cold War Water Sports," contain imagery of children at play (more longing for carefree times), while "The Wheel Hits the Path (Quite Soon)" possesses a quintessential Pollard lyric, where the context is inconsequential ("like a hairspray party at the wind tunnel"). The remaining B-sides are largely forgettable ("Eskimo Clockwork" is a wordless number that features Sprout banging away at the piano, and suffers from Pollard's absence). The real jewel is the psychedelic "In the Brain," a previously unavailable track that betters most of the material found on Tower in the Fountain of Sparks.


Formed: 1985 in Dayton, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Inspired equally by jangle pop and arty post-punk, Guided by Voices created a series of trebly, hissy indie rock records filled with infectiously brief pop songs that fell somewhere between the British Invasion and prog rock. After recording six self-released albums between 1986 and 1992, the Dayton, Ohio-based band attracted a handful of fans within the American indie rock underground. With the 1994 release of Bee Thousand, the group became an unexpected alternative rock sensation, winning positive...
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