Guided by Voices

Tonics and Twisted Chasers

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Originally a fan club only release of all new compositions, most of them co-written by Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout, Tonics and Twisted Chasers was reissued on CD by Rockathon Records with five bonus tracks in 1997. The characteristic Guided by Voices hallmarks are here: contorted psyche fuzz guitar on "Satellite"; lovely, pensive ballads like "Key Losers" and "Look, It's Baseball"; rawboned, fractured Who ("Ha Ha Man," "Girl From the Sun"); a helium-toned piano jingle, "Universal Nurse Finger." At times, Tonics and Twisted Chasers is almost the concept album -- though on a less-grand and less-produced scale-that Mag Earwhig! wanted to be but didn't quite reach, revolving around the point of view of growing up in Midwest nowhere ("At the Farms," "Look, It's Baseball"), and so is melancholy and resigned while somehow remaining celebratory. It even contains a similar but stripped-down and shorter version of a song that became a part of the Mag Earwhig! song cycle, "Knock 'Em Flyin.'" What is most amazing about Tonics and Twisted Chasers (and GBV's ouevre, in general) is that this album, despite its original limited pressing, is not even close to a throwaway or fan-only release. It may not be quite as accessible as the band's larger indie-label output, but it nonetheless stands up exceptionally well to the rest of the Guided by Voices catalog.