Gem Sunglare Serenades

You might know Doug Gillard from his current roll as guitarist with Robert Pollard's Guided By Voices, his previous band, Cobra Verde, or his seminal work with '80s indie rock band Death of Samantha. Fewer will know of his band Gem, having first formed in 1992. Gem's other core member, Tim Tobias, followed Gillard's lead from 1996 and joined GBV in 1999 as bassist. The connection goes further, in that the Gillard-penned GBV song "I Am A Tree," on Mag Earwhig!, was originally a compilation-only Gem track. With only one previous album from 1995, Gem has been anything but prolific since its members are all involved in other full-time gigs. The current incarnation of Gem features Doug and Tim sharing vocal and guitar duties with brother Todd Tobias on bass and Eric Vogt on drums. With songs written by either Gillard or the Tobias brothers, every single track on Sunglare Serenades hits the spot. The clean arrangements, focused hooks and raw performance brings to mind classic rock material from the '60s and '70s. The high-energy indie rock of the Tobias brothers is featured on "Many Fanged Breezes" and "When They Pull You Out," while the pair really hit their mark on the mellow yet sweet confection of "A Slow Crawl" and "Ghostville Anyway." Gillard comes to the table with some of the best material of his career, including powerful dark rockers like "I, Today" and "J.H.-S," along with the pop perfection of "Carcass and Crow," "Good to See You," "Time Was" and "Razors in the Skies." It would seem that Gem have taken some real tips from their work with Pollard. In fact, Gem is much closer to GBV in sound than any of Gillard's other bands and truth be told, the tracks on Sunglare Serenades are even better than most of GBVs recent output. (Pitch-A-Tent)