Guided by Voices have finished recording Broadcaster House, their second full-fledged hi-fi effort, which combines moody hard rock and chiming psychedelia with some of the group's catchiest power-pop songs to date.
The album, tentatively due in March, is more representative of the formerly lo-fi band's essence than its last album, 1999's Ric Ocasek-produced Do the Collapse, according to group mastermind Robert Pollard.
"It gets back to more of a roller-coaster effect. It's the way I'd like a GBV album to sound," Pollard said last week at an informal listening party for the new album in New York. "It's got all the P's on it pop, prog, psychedelic."
The album's first single is slated to be "Glad Girls," a melodic retro-rocker with an indelible chorus reminiscent of '70s cult band Big Star.
Another potential single is the uptempo, tambourine-heavy "Chasing Heather Crazy," which Pollard describes as "ultra-stupid pop."
album, which also includes the two-chord, anthemic "Run Wild," features lyrics that are more personal and revelatory than Guided by Voices' oft-inscrutable songs of the past, Pollard said.
"They're still kind of cryptic, though," he warned.
The album was produced by Rob Schnapf, who previously worked with Beck, Elliott Smith and the Foo Fighters. Not coincidentally, singer/songwriter Smith contributed keyboards to Broadcaster House.
Since the mid-'80s, GBV, whose only permanent member is Pollard, have released a barrage of home-recorded albums and singles. Beginning with 1994's breakthrough Bee Thousand, the band became one of the most critically acclaimed indie-rock acts of the last decade, although it has yet to move beyond cult-favorite status.
The ever-prolific Pollard has released at least seven albums and EPs, along with a hundred- song box set, in the last two years alone.
True to form, as GBV prep the new album, which will be
released by TVT Records, Pollardis also releasing his latest side projects, two small-scale albums that will be available only through the band's Web site (www.gbv.com ).
The first of these albums, Big Trouble, was released last week under the band name Hazzard Hotrods, which first popped up as one of many fictional groups on this year's box set of unreleased songs, Suitcase: Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircraft.
The Hazzard Hotrods album, recorded live in 1990 in a video store, finds Pollard and former Guided by Voices members Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell improvising songs based on the titles around them, such as the Alfred Hitchcock film "The 39 Steps."
The album, which was recorded on a boombox, will be available on vinyl only, in a limited edition of 500 copies, according to Matt Davis, vice president of the GBV-affiliated label Rockathon.
The other side project, which will be
released within two weeks, is an EP under the name Howlin' Wolf Orchestra.
The EP, recorded in September in a studio in Pollard's native Dayton, Ohio, also consists of improvised songs, this time recorded by Pollard along with his brother, honorary GBV member Jimmy Pollard, current GBV guitarist Nate Farley and former bassist Greg Demos, according to Davis.