Search - Guided By Voices :: Under the Bushes Under the Stars

Under the Bushes Under the Stars
Guided By Voices
Under the Bushes Under the Stars
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #1

Not the ultimate album side of Bee Thousand, the album that will always be their high-water mark, Guided by Voices' Under the Bushes, Under the Stars's songs are more fully realized. Familiar bits and pieces continue to sh...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Guided By Voices
Title: Under the Bushes Under the Stars
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 1
Label: Matador Records
Original Release Date: 3/26/1996
Release Date: 3/26/1996
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, American Alternative
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 744861016120, 0744861016168, 744861016144

Not the ultimate album side of Bee Thousand, the album that will always be their high-water mark, Guided by Voices' Under the Bushes, Under the Stars's songs are more fully realized. Familiar bits and pieces continue to shine through, with basement Beatles and backyard Who here, and New Zealand lo-fi and acoustic Led Zepplin there. Bob Pollard and Tobon Sprout's ideas, still impeccably timeless hooks that cut through the murk to reveal the scratchy pop gem within, are examined and, maybe for the first time in the band's canon, thoroughly re-examined in the drawn-out song structures. Still, you could fit a baker's dozen of Guided by Voices tunes inside somebody else's hidden track, and have room enough left over for "Girlfriend in a Coma." Comfortably. Not all the songs stand up to the scrutiny, but the majority of GBV's tunes, as always, reveal the joy of the most minute moments that the majority of rock bands crash through while admiring the forest and missing the trees (bushes?). And no one knows the lexicon more thoroughly than GBV do. --Randy Silver

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CD Reviews

GBV's melancholy masterpiece
W. M. Davidson | St. Louis, MO | 07/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Under the Bushes Under the Stars" is probably not the place for a new Guided by Voices fan to get started, but in my opinion, it's their best album.

Most of the songs on "Under the Bushes" take a few listens to unfold. The whole album has a languid, melancholy feel, in contrast to the hyperactive hookiness of "Bee Thousand" and "Alien Lanes." The sound is dominated by dark, murky guitars-- almost a throwback to "Vampire on Titus," but with cleaner production. There are a few brighter tracks clustered toward the end ("Underwater Explosions" indeed), but nothing here is as sunny and instantly accessible as, say, "Echoes Myron."

Over time, though, that works to the album's advantage. It demands and rewards repeated listening, individual songs gradually breaking out of the murk and lodging themselves addictively in your brain. It's also ingeniously sequenced and paced, alternating small groups of darker songs and more upbeat tracks. The cryptic, cacophonous "Man Called Aerodynamics" distinguishes itself as one of GBV's greatest album openers, and the next couple of tracks keep the momentum going strong. "Burning Flag Birthday Suit" employs the classic Pollard trick of building from solo guitar and vocals to a startling full-band climax in barely over two minutes. The next few tracks chime and chug along in a low-key, gloomy vein, until "Your Name is Wild" and "Ghosts of a Different Dream" raise the tempo and infuse a welcome jolt of energy. The haunting, acoustic "Acorns & Orioles" brings things down again for a few more tracks, until the aforementioned "Underwater Explosions" and Tobin Sprout's "Atom Eyes" finally provide a glimpse of sunlight.

Those songs set the stage for the breathtakingly gorgeous "Don't Stop Now," for my money the best song Robert Pollard has ever written. Who else could wring such beauty and pathos from a song about a rooster named Big Daddy? "Don't Stop Now" may be a tough act to follow but "Office of Hearts" is up to the task, closing the album on a dissonant, slightly unsettling note.

But wait, this is a Guided by Voices album, which means we have six more tracks that happened to be lying around and got tacked on the end. These extra songs may not exactly fit into the vibe established by the album proper, but they're worthy additions, "Big Boring Wedding" and the exuberant "Drag Days" standing out in particular.

"Under the Bushes Under the Stars" encompasses all sides of GBV, from solo fragments like "Bright Paper Werewolves" to intricate rockers like "Cut-Out Witch" to weird experiments like "Take to the Sky" to loud chug-fests like "Lord of Overstock," but wraps it all in a coherent and compelling package. Robert Pollard's lyrics throughout the album are some of the most cryptic and intriguing in his entire catalog. "Under the Bushes" is decidedly darker in tone than most Guided by Voices albums, and it may take a few listens to grow on you, but if you let it sink in you'll find GBV's richest and most rewarding album."
Sadly Underrated
Paul H. | USA | 01/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Yes, the sprawling lo-fi masterpieces Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes get all the credit, but Under The Bushes Under The Stars is GBV embracing hi-fi production and letting their power-pop brilliance shine through in an easier to swallow form. Some of the best tunes on Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes had strong arena-ready melodies beneath the murky lo-fi hiss and muffles (as evidenced by the hi-fi re-recordings of "Game Of Pricks," "I Am A Scientist," "Motor Away," and "My Valuable Hunting Knife"), and while the lo-fi production allowed for a certain unearthed garage relic feel, GBV sounds just as powerful in a more crystal-clear format. Keep in mind, the production on UTBUTS may still be turn-off for people raised-on radio-ready alt-rock, but it's still a revelation for fans of GBV's earlier work. Which ever side of GBV you prefer, UTBUTS has less fragments and more solid tunes. Despite an almost dark tone at the start of the record, UTBUTS progresses into a set of bright, brilliant pop tunes. The one thing GBV doesn't get credit for is that their albums work really well as full pieces as the fragmented pieces on Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand work better in the context of an album rather than on their own. That said, UTBUTS has so many great songs to choose from: "The Official Ironman Rally Song," "Man Called Aerodynamics," "Don't Stop Now," "Big Boring Wedding," "Your Name Is Wild," "Underwater Explosions," "Drag Days," etc. For those who need a good introduction to Guided By Voices, Under The Bushes... might be the perfect introduction. And for fans, this is a must-have, a incredibly consistent album for a band with a pretty inpenitrable, sometimes spotty discography."
Perhaps the most under-rated GBV album?
Erich Hartmann | NYC | 03/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This one really sneaks up on you. Songs like "Your Name is Wild" and "Drag Days" haunt you in your sleep after a while... and those aren't even the "singles" on the album. It's produced by Kim Deal too, which, in my opinion, keeps the album from having a definitive "sound," and that's a good thing. Yes, there are some more "taditional gbv" sounds (4-trackish muffle, super-wet vocal fx, etc), as well as some more polished "arena rock"-ish stuff, which keeps it varied and ultimately keeps your interest; aka, your favorite songs after the first week will be quite different than your favorite songs further down the road. And for an album with 20+ tracks, there's really not a stinker in the bunch. And that my friends is a real feat. If you own just one gbv album, this may not be it, but if you own two..."