Song of the Day: Guided By Voices – Steppenwolf Mausoleum

Photo by Sandlin Gaither

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Steppenwolf Mausoleum” by Guided By Voices, off their self-released album How Do You Spell Heaven out on GBV Inc.

Guided By Voices – Steppenwolf Mausoleum (MP3)

Another 2017 Guided By Voices record, you say? Believe it! So what if August By Cake was just released in April? And was just their first double album? And between all of his side projects (browse database) was just only-original-member Robert Pollard’s 100th studio album to date (Bob Dylan being at 39 including The Traveling Wilburys)? There’s no time like the present so four months later Guided By Voices has now self-released How Do You Spell Heaven, the 1983-formed band’s twenty-fifth studio album. Needless to say, Guided By Voices’ timbre has been seminal to the raw sound of rock over the last three decades.

That raw sound stands out immediately in “Steppenwolf Mausoleum.” Of course, with a name like that it’s embedded with eerie undertones, but adding to the pathos is knowing it was released the same week that Goldy McJohn of the band Steppenwolf had passed away. Pollard’s fuzzed-out picking and crooning intro for “Steppenwolf Mausoleum” gothically set up a mood like that of Bowie’s “Black Star.” The overture then ramps into full-blown measures of diminished melodies alongside catchy pop riffs and chord-hammering vibrato from Bobby Bare, Jr. and Doug Gilliard’s guitars. To boot, Kevin March sets the song’s driving march with crashing cymbals and skins while Mark Shue’s low end punches through during the backing vocal-rich choruses. Clocking in at just over three minutes, “Steppenwolf Mausoleum” coalesces the ethos of classic rock and indie rock to give us a cryptic and harrowing anthem.

Given that Guided By Voices has just released two albums this year, they do have some U.S. shows coming up that you can check out via their website and/or their Facebook page. Before you do, check out “Just To Show You,” the first single from How Do You Spell Heaven, which you can find below.

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