If I asked you today to make me a list of current rock bands that have been putting out consistent albums over the last several years what names would you write down? Still thinking? Is Guided By Voices on your list and looking fairly lonely at the top? Guess what – we have the same list. Sure, there is plenty of great new music out there with a multitude of artists blending genres and finding new spaces between the chords but where is the classic rock vibe that many of us grew up on? Guided By Voices’ 35th album, Crystal Nuns Cathedral, is the answer and it solidifies their current rock ranking with boisterous guitars, pounding skins and big sing along moments.
Crystal Nuns Cathedral is really a continuation of GBV’s modernized classic rock sound from the last several years that just keeps evolving with the crew of Robert Pollard, Bobby Bare Jr., Doug Gillard, Mark Shue and Kevin March. Opener “Eye City” sets the tone, as it is one of the biggest driving first tracks ever to start a GBV record. It broods, boils and even includes strings that the band stylistically buries with their muscular playing. “Re-Develop” sounds like a song that you would play to open the castle gates, as its anathematic charging lyrics just keep building to maximum pinnacle moments that will have you quickly singing along at the top of your lungs. “Climbing A Ramp” is another track that falls into this same style, as its tempo increases and highlights all of the band members talents.
Song after song, Crystal Nuns Cathedral just rocks out. Fist pounding and guitar driving songs like “Come North Together” and “Excited Ones” will give some hints of the early Gillard GBV days but now with a much tighter grip as every note hits with perfection. You also will hear Pollard’s voice flowing seamlessly with these big chords as he once again gives a master class on focusing the listener’s ear on the hooks! I do think that Crystal Nuns Cathedral will be one of the best more traditional rock records you will hear this year, as it never once gives you any indication that its not!
Key Tracks: “Eye City” / “Come North Together” / “Excited Ones”
Artists With Similar Fire: Cheap Trick / Spoon / The Who
Guided By Voices Review History: It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them! (2021) / Cub Scout Bowling Pins: Clang Clang Ho (2021) / Earth Man Blues (2021) / Mirrored Aztec (2020) / Surrender Your Poppy Field (2020) / Sweating The Plague (2019) / Warp And Woof (2019) / Zeppelin Over China (2019) / Space Gun (2018) / Ogre’s Trumpet (2018) / How Do You Spell Heaven (2017) / August By Cake (2017) / Please Be Honest (2016) / Suitcase 4 (2015) / Cool Planet (2014) / Motivational Jumpsuit (2014) / English Little League (2013) / Down By The Racetrack EP (2013) / The Bears For Lunch (2012) / Class Clown Spots A UFO (2012) / Let’s Go Eat The Factory (2012)