This week’s flashback brings us back to the spring of 1995, when Indie Rock was truly at its zenith. Following up the success of their album from the previous year (Bee Thousand), Guided by Voices served up a buzzy, lo-fi masterpiece with Alien Lanes.
Following a six-figure record deal with Matador Records, Alien Lanes was different in that it was a low-budget project. Bass guitarist at the time, James Greer, mentioned that “The cost for recording Alien Lanes, if you leave out the beer, was about ten dollars.”
The buzzy, lo-fi masterpiece went on to become one of the best-received indie albums of the 90s. Pitchfork Media included Alien Lanes in their ‘Top 100 Albums of the 90s’ polls, at No. 27, and Magnet named it the best album of 1995.
The album consists of twenty-eight tracks that end almost before they even hit you. The second-longest track on the album, Watch me Jumpstart, is only two-and-a-half minutes long – the galloping chords and the belting chorus of Robert Pollard’s lyrics easily make up one of the best songs on the album.
Alien Lanes hits the softer side of rock with ninety-second, Game of Pricks - which is easily one of the most honest and sincere love songs of the 90s. With surreal lyrics such as “I’ll climb up on the house / weep to water the trees / and when you come calling me down / I’ll put on my diesase” that’ll have you scratching your head to why they’re making you feel so much.
The aftermath of Alien Lanes would only serve to build momentum for the indie legends out of Dayton, Ohio. The next decade of their career would be littered with other classics, such as Tonics & the Twisted Chasers and Mag Earwhig! Legendary frontman, Robert Pollard, would have a nice solo career as well – he’s widely regarded as one of the best songwriters of all time, after all.