Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department

REVIEW: Robert Pollard with Doug Gillard – Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department (1999)

ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION! ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION! ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION! We have assumed control. We have assumed control. We have assumed control….

SATCHMO

 Welcome to an April Fools Day switcheroo!! Mike and I have told each other what to listen to for today’s post.  Fun times!! Initially, we were even gonna try to write in each others’ styles, and really try to fool you guys. But, as you’ll see from the album choices, it might have been a nigh on impossible task!

For Mike, I chose Robert Pollard & Doug Gillard’s ‘Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department,’ largely because Mike awesomely found it and bought it for me in Ottawa, but I already had it, so I said he should rock it himself! But it’s awesome that he’ll get to hear a bit of the MAJESTY of Bob Pollard! I can’t wait to read what he says about it…

And for me, Mike has chosen Deep Purple’s In Rock (for which I thank him profusely). And here is where I really worried about trying to write like Mike for a post. That man KNOWS his Deep Purple, and there’s no way I could bring perspective to an album he’s heard for years and probably has coded directly into his DNA by now. It just wouldn’t work. You’d all know it wasn’t Mike!

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this April Fools site switcheroo! Let’s get in there and GIVE ‘ER!!

A

IMG_20160319_132526


 

Scan_20160325 (3)ROBERT POLLARD with DOUG GILLARD – Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department (1999 Luna)

Guided By Voices have always eluded me.  Aaron says they’re brilliant but not for everybody.  This Robert Pollard “duo” album with Doug Gillard looks really interesting.  Let’s see if I’m everybody or not!

“Frequent Weaver Who Burns” is instantly likeable.  The lo-fi but genuine recording sounds right out of 1969, and the song recalls some of the best hippie rock bands from that era.  I hear a hint of 54-40’s “I Go Blind” in the guitar, but this is far more ambitious, as it descends into dance music madness.  “Soul Train College Policeman” (how the hell do they come up with these titles?) is different and indescribable, but “Pop Zeus” is brilliant.  Simple guitar melodies weave together with layers of rhythm guitars creating a power-pop rock track without embellishment.

Most of these songs are short bursts of ideas; in and out and no nonsense.  The longest track at 4:20 is “Slick as Snails”, a slow and enticing exercise in mixing sweet notes with sour notes and making a delectable concoction regardless.  Regal guitar chords keep the ship from running aground.  Power pop returns on “Do Something Real”, a simple guitar riff melded with an unorthodox melody.  In fact the album in general is built from these ingredients.  The guitars retain catchy rhythms, often classic sounding in nature.  Meanwhile the vocals are not constrained to sing anything simple or straightforward.  The lo-fi tape hiss and nature of the recordings do not detract; they enhance.  “Life is Beautiful” sounds as if recorded in the can.  Mix in a smidgen of psychedelia.  There is also a contrasting bombast on the album, a power just bursting at the seams.  Drama is often the companion of the arrangements, “Port Authority” being a fine example of this.  The short tunes meld influences varied far and wide.  Aaron hears the Who, and it’s there, and I think I even picked up on some Ace Frehley in the ring of the guitars.

Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department comes highly recommended for the musically fearless.

4.5/5 stars