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Down By the Racetrack


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Audio CD, January 22, 2013
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Here is the last Guided By Voices album. Not in the sense of “Here is the previous Guided By Voices album,” but in the sense of “final.” If it’s true in movies where the voice-over says “You never really appreciate something until it’s gone,” and the credits roll, and you leave the theater with little bits of popcorn stuck to your shoes, then you ... Read more in Amazon's Guided by Voices Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 22, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Guided By Voices
  • ASIN: B00AMPXZQ4
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,195 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

2013 EP release from the prolific mind of Robert Pollard and his reunited GBV mates. Welcome to the commencement of 2013's Guided By Voices recorded output. Please take your seats quickly. For those who slept through 2012, the Dayton, OH, rock legends released three hugely-acclaimed albums last year and toured throughout the United States of America, including Florida. Down By The Racetrack is Guided By Voices stretching out in a way not seen since early- to mid-'90s EPs like Get Out My Stations or Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer. It's a particular kind of lo-fi weirdness from the Midwest-warped minds of Dayton's canniest rock warlocks.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ross on February 19, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I get everything that Chase is saying, but when you believe, you just believe. And the difference between us and a religious fanatic is that we know when to say when when it comes to our proselytizing.

And I'm not as bonkers about the EPs as some other hardcore fans are. I definitely think the 1994-1995 EPs are good, but surprisingly inconsistent, which is what you get when you buy a Pollard EP.

However, the hit and miss ratio is even further off with this release. As Pitchfork correctly noted, the first song sounds like it was being written on the spot. Pictures of the Man honestly sounds like nothing else in Pollard's massive discography, and I've heard everything... and I mean everything. That fact alone warrants a listen.

Tobin's fake string patch on whatever synth he's using has GOT to go.

Side two fairs better. The first song is a quirky "sounds like it was written on the spot" song also, but then after that comes the highlight. A pure weird Pollard pop nugget.

I take that back. Tobin steals the show here with the title track. It rocks harder than Tobin has rocked... possibly ever. How do they squeeze so much music into 1:45?

So... two good songs, one great song, and three throwaways. Business as usual. Henry Rollins referred to The Fall as a magazine subscription. The Fall is becoming more and more like McSweeney's (and judging by their recent output, we can all breathe easy). Guided by Voices is like Newsweek. If you don't like the current one, the next one is already being written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Red Neville on January 24, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Please see J. Brastad's review below for an excellent encapsulation of this release. As indicated, this is a weird one, harkening back to those mid-'90s eps that kept fans going between albums, e.g. Fast Japanese Spin Cycle. If you've been following the band for a while, you have probably been anticipating this little nugget. If you're new to GBV, this may not be the place to start. "Standing in a Puddle of Flesh", for example, might leave you scratching your head, with its meandering piano and (even for R. Pollard) jumbled mash of lyrics. Returning fans are likely to recognize this as part of Pollard's M.O., and I enjoy seeing how he can turn chance phrases and rhyming dictionary-type lines into something resembling actual structure via his melodic prowess.

I was initially skeptical of the Sprout-Mitchell title track, but by the end of the first listen, I fell in love. Mitch's gracefully brutal power chords marry well to Sprout's mantra-like vocals, and I sincerely hope that they trot this one out for the live shows (I can hear Bob piping in for the "Say it!"s now)-- very anthemic. All in all, a welcome addition to an already staggering catalog.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chase on February 18, 2013
Format: Audio CD
GBV has accomplished what other bands only dream of doing: releasing throwaway songs that turn out to be better than most bands' best work. Particularly with their EPs released in the 90's, Bob and the gang could toss just about anything into the audio world and find that their songwriting was strong enough to be fawned over by fans and critics alike. Get Out of My Stations and Fast Japanese Spin Cycle are arguably the best EPs ever released in history. This happened to a point where the fans no longer bothered to be honest with themselves whether a release was great or not. If it had the Bob Pollard name on it, they ate it up like bread in a proletariat household. The only problem was that the songwriting became more uneven and sometimes downright weak (half of Universal Truths and Cycles, almost all of Suitcases 2 & 3, and From a Compound Eye from start to finish). Criticizing this band in front of the true believers is like telling a FLDS member that polygamy might not be the best idea, but it needs to be said by someone.

Their three "reunion albums" since 2012 have had some inspired moments ("The Unsinkable Fats Domino"!) and are worth a listen if you have not heard them. Now comes Down by the Racetrack, a lo-fi release that sounds like a Cessna taxiing for a takeoff that never happens. The songwriting on all the tracks is better than your band's, probably (sorry, I'm just being honest here). Yet it isn't a three-star effort like Class Clown Spots a UFO, a four-star job like Dayton, Ohio Nineteen-Something-Five, or a five-star masterpiece like Clown Prince.

I'm sure the band worked hard on these songs. Unfortunately, that does not a great song make.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jules Anderson on January 24, 2013
Format: Audio CD
"Down By The Racetrack" is a highly decent GBV EP: better than the recent "Donut For a Snowman" but it ain't "Static Airplane Jive" or "Sunfish Holy Breakfast" (but really, what is these days?). Like so much of their music, the tracks on this album flow and stick together like glue, morphing from mournful-pop to post-garage to half-sloshed saloon piano ditties often in the course of the same minute. The opening number "It Travels Faster Through Thin Hair" features the band's beloved permanent resident genius frontman Bob Pollard and bassist Greg Demos waxing tender and acoustic over an intimate lo-fi tape. Next on "Pictures of The Man" Pollard, with full classic lineup in tow, pulls out a Cheap Trick-inspired proggy hand-clap number that could easily fit right in on "Class Clown Spots a UFO". "Amanda Gray" continues Tobin Sprout's current winning record of writing gorgeously sweet mini-pop epics: this one perhaps most impressive for making an indelible impression in just 43 seconds (what other band can do that these days? really?) You can almost taste the bad tequila and feel Pollard's hangover on the busted-piano driven "Standing in a Puddle of Flesh" which even seems to be written about a drunk stumbling around a cluttered room, trying to find a couch to waste. "Copy Zero" is in my opinion, the highlight. Its a vintage Sprout/Pollard song that dials back to some of the best of Airport 5, with its perfect pop precision and collaborative synergy: the sort of sure-fire formula track even last November's great "Bears for Lunch" LP could have used a wee bit more of.Read more ›
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