I woke up the other day with a brand new Breeders song stuck in my head. Was it the 1990s again? The lineup of the band that gave us the landmark 1993 album “Last Splash” recently released the proper follow-up, “All Nerve.”
To further confuse the timeline, Guided By Voices has another new album coming out. The calendar confirms many years have passed but, thankfully, there’s still plenty of fire in two of Dayton’s most popular rock bands.
The Breeders: “All Nerve”
Released by longtime home 4AD, this is something hardcore fans have dreamed about for years. “Mountain Battles” (2008) and “Title TK” (2002) are solid albums, but fans yearned for leaders Kim and Kelley Deal backed by fan favorites Josephine Wiggs (bass) and Jim MacPherson (drums), the nimble rhythm section on “Last Splash.”
Murmurs of a possible new batch of songs have been around since this lineup reunited in 2013 for the 20th anniversary tour for “Last Splash.” The rumor finally became a reality with the release of “All Nerve” on March 2, and this album doesn’t disappoint. It opens with the one-two punch of “Nervous Mary” and “Wait in the Car” followed by the beautifully somber title track. Other standouts include “Spacewoman,” “Skinhead #2” and a faithful rendition of “Archangel’s Thunderbird” by German rock band Amon Düül II.
On the surface, “All Nerve” doesn’t have a breakout smash like “Cannonball” or “Divine Hammer.” There’s nothing quite so overtly poppy and there is a sense of foreboding darkness coloring tracks like “MetaGoth” and “Walking with a Killer.” Yet there’s still plenty to love, from the creamy vocals and nonstop barrage of melodies to the crunchy guitars, dynamic shifts and subtle atmospherics.
Guided By Voices: “Space Gun”
You’re forgiven if you’ve grown weary of the announcement a new Guided By Voices album has arrived — but if you’re not keeping up, you’re missing out. “Space Gun,” getting its official release on March 23, finds Robert Pollard clearly still energized by the latest lineup.
Doug Gillard (guitar), Bobby Bare Jr. (guitar), Mark Shue (bass) and Kevin March (drums), who appeared on the 2017 releases “August By Cake” and “How Do You Spell Heaven” are back for “Space Gun.” The album opens with the lead single, “Space Gun,” an anthemic, mid-tempo rocker, and it doesn’t let up until the final ringing notes of the sprawling album closer, “Evolution Circus.” In between, Pollard has crafted the perfect mix of power pop and indie rock with requisite hints of prog and psychedelia, and there’s not a clunker in the bunch.
“Space Gun,” Pollard’s 102nd album, is supposedly the only Guided By Voices release this year, which is something of an anomaly for the ever-prolific songwriter. With another great full-length behind him, and no new GBV album in the pipeline, it’ll be interesting to see what Uncle Bob cooks up next.