Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Closing Out The Decade:
Guided By Voices -
Universal Truths and Cycles (2002)

I wrested with the idea of coming up with a list for the AGP's favorite releases of the last 10 years. After some serious back and forth, I made the decision that the last thing we need is another list. Instead we will feature some of the albums that have made a lasting impact on us. These are the albums that we told our friends to buy, annoyed our spouses with, and ultimately inspired us to launch this blog.

From now until the end of December The AGP will feature our favorite albums of the decade. Each week we will feature posts highlighting our favorite albums of the 00's. We will even have a few contributions from the AGP's extended family. We invite your comments, we want to know why you agree with us or perhaps why you think we're off our collective rockers.

We hope you'll join us as we take a look back at the albums that shaped the past 3,653 days our lives.
For frequent readers the inclusion of Guided By Voices to this segment should come as no surprise. The question should be, what took me so long? Let's just say this is the first but possibly not the last time you will hear about a Robert Pollard fronted project on Closing Out The Decade, a look back over the last 10 years of the music that inspired us here at The AGP.

Universal Truths and Cycles is a return on many levels. A return to the lo-fi/mid fi wizardry of the bands early output, a return to the Matador stable after two fine releases with TVT, and a return to Pollard taking back the control over production. The results proved to be GBV's finest recording since the holly trinity of Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under The Bushes, Under The Stars.

After recording there two previous records with big name producers, Ric Ocasek and Rob Schnapf respectively, Robert Pollard took back production control by self producing Universal Truths and Cycles with Todd Tobias. Tobias, a member of Pollard 's experimental outfit Circus Devils would go on to produce two more GBV albums and pretty much everything Pollard has released since then. Universal Truths and Cycles was recorded at Cro-Magnon in Dayton and at Waterloo Sound in Kent, OH. The album was released on June 18th, 2002 by Matador. Prior to the albums release Matador issued a press release in which they described the record: The big story with ‘Universal Truths And Cycles’ is that it melds old and new GBV approaches to spectacular effect.

Wire Greyhounds sets the tone for the album as the bands charges through 35 seconds of guitar bashed prog-punk. From there what follows is a sharp and focused record and one's that has aged incredibly well due to the sheer quality of the material found on GBV's 13th long player. Universal Truths and Cylcles is Pollard's strongest batch of tunes in the final stage of Guided by Voices long and beer soaked career. With tracks like Christian Animated Torch Carrier, Pretty Bombs, Storm Vibrations and the ultra catchy Back To The Lake UTAC stole my attention, but it was the shorter songs on the record like Zap, The Weeping Bogeyman, and The Factory of Raw Essentials that hold the record together. For me the sign of great record is if you can listen to it over and over and manage to find a new favorite song each time, Universal Truths and Cycles is that kind of record. If you ever liked GBV even in a little you owe it yourself to hear one of the decades truly remarkable recordings.

Buy Universal Truths and Cycles at the Matador Store.

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