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Old 06-29-2011, 05:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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I haven't logged in at MB for a week or so and this is the first thing that catches my eye. I'm so excited! Awesome thread, Zero - the two first reviews were great! Looking forward to the others!

I first heard of Pixies in autumn 2008 - a thirteen-year-old girl recommended them to me on a Sims 2-forum. (Good taste in music for such a young age.) In January 2009 I bought my first Pixies-album: Surfer Rosa & Come on Pilgrim in one package. I would listen to it twice (or more) every day - I loved it and I still do. I'd never heard anything like it - the lyrics, vocals and riffs just blew me away. A while afterward I bought Doolittle and even though it took some time getting used to because of all the Surfer Rosa-playthroughs, I came to love it just as much or maybe even more.

I've listened to Surfer Rosa, Come on Pilgrim and Doolittle countless times, but I still have trouble discribing the music to others. I don't know what terms to use or how to formulate the sentences. Reading these two reviews helped a lot - your description of the songs is very recognizable. Finally I feel like I've have found the right words for my thoughts.

I don't feel anything special about Trompe Le Monde and Bossanova. I don't know, maybe they just haven't grown on me yet. I'll just have to try playing through them more times and wait for the magic to happen.
Cheers!

I love Bossanova, even though it's not as strong as Surfer Rosa and Doolittle it does have a certain feel to it that I love. Trompe le Monde has some great moments but overall it's definitely not my favourite Pixies album. I'll reveal more when the time comes.
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Old 06-30-2011, 04:04 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Gigantic


With the song 'Gigantic' the Pixies knew they had a good strong single on their hands. Not only was 'Gigantic' the only single released from Surfer Rosa it was also the first single to be released by the band. In order for the song to make a bigger impact the band decided to re-record the song with producer Gil Norton, who they went on to record Doolittle, Bossanova and Trompe le Monde with. In stark contrast with Steve Albini, who's production methods were raw and used little or no overdubbing, Gil Norton's production was glossier and gave the music a bit more clarity. The single version of 'Gigantic' recorded with Gil Norton had a punchier and cleaner sound overall and more of a traditional pop song structure with an additional chorus added in at the end of the song. With this single the band a potential hit and a song that could gain the band a lot more exposure. It didn't quite work out that way however as the song only reached 93 in the UK singles chart, but what they did have was the ultimate indie anthem that would be played on alternative radio stations and in indie discos for the next 23 years. In the end a job well done.

The first video is the single version and the second is the album version.





================================================== ===============

Here's a Pixies interview from 1988 that is very interesting and funny.





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Old 06-30-2011, 05:22 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Surfer Rosa is one of the finest, rawest rock records there is, but I never much cared for Gigantic. It just didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the record.
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:34 PM   #14 (permalink)
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that is why it is my favorite song on the record. Stood out.
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:45 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Doolittle
Year: 1989
Producer: Gil Norton
Length: 38:46




Track Listing:
1. Debaser
2. Tame
3. Wave Of Mutilation
4. I Bleed
5. Here Comes Your Man
6. Dead
7. Monkey Gone To Heaven
8. Mr. Grieves
9. Crackity Jones
10. La La Love You
11. No. 13 Baby
12. There Goes My Gun
13. Hey
14. Silver
15. Gouge Away

Like most listeners my first real encounter with the Pixies was with the album Doolittle. It's almost like a right-of-passage for teenagers to get this album and dive further into the whole indie and alternative rock scene, which is exactly what I did in my last year of school. While all the other misfit kids in school were still wearing their Metallica and Slayer hoodies, a few friends and myself gradually ditched all that and turned more and more towards indie-cool by the time we started college. The album itself still contains some of the off-beat madness and insane lyrics of Surfer Rosa but in place of the raw production is a glossier and better produced sound courtesy of Gil Norton. This rise in production quality could allow the band to live up to their pop potential and perhaps break into the alternative rock big league.

The clarity of the band's sound is evident from the opening track 'Debaser', Kim Deal's throbbing bass having much more presence than before and Joey Santiago's wonderful lead surf-guitar melodies sounding crystal-clear and full of soul and passion. Black Francis however sounds as bonkers as he's ever been, crying out "Got me a movie. Ha ha ha ho. Slicing up eyeballs. Ha ha ha ho" like a man seriously deranged. The inspiration for this song was the insanely surreal short film 'Un Chien Andalou'. This is probably the best opening track on a Pixies album and really showcases the combination of atonal singing and soaring guitar melodies to brilliant effect. Kim Deal's funky bass and David Lovering's ever solid drumming form the backbone to the second track 'Tame'. The most striking and engaging element however is Black Francis' vocals, with switch from a sinister whisper in the verses to a full-on roar in the choruses. Listen to Black Francis roar "Taaaaaaaaaame" with all the power he's got at the end of the song and put any extreme metal vocalist to shame. While the first two tracks on the album contain some pretty harsh and insane vocals from Black Francis that all changes with 'Wave Of Mutilation' which features Black Francis singing, yes actually singing. Backed by some wonderful punk/surf hybrid guitars Black Francis pulls off his melodic vocals brilliantly to create a stunning pop-infused song, the chorus refrains of "Wave of mutilation" lodging themselves deep inside your head. Doolittle offers a bit more variety than it's predecessors and this is evident in the slower-paced 'I Bleed'. The slower-pace and sparser sound allows for the song, and the album itself, to breathe a little. The key to this song is Kim Deal's infectious bassline which lays the foundation for her and Francis' dual lead vocals. These dual vocals work to great effect during the verses but not so much during the chorus where they sound a little bit underwhelming. The choruses do however contain some nice crazy slide-guitar which does make up for it to some extent and adds a nice dynamic to the song. 'Here Comes Your Man' is arguably the most accessible and downright melodic thing the Pixies have ever done. That infectious country guitar line from Joey Santiago is inescapable and instantly recognisable, this sets us up for the most thrilling song on the album. The pop-infused sound is clearly evident from Black Francis more melodic and straight-forward style of singing throughout the song, although the lyrics are still characterised by his surreal style of songwriting; "Outside there's a boxcar waiting. Outside the family stew. Out by the fire breathing. Outside we wait 'till face turns blue". Some marvellous boy-girl vocal exchanges between Francis and Deal put the icing on the cake in this song as well as a stunning mid-section. The ultimate sing-along Pixies tune.

If you were worried that the album was going to get a little bit too melodic after 'Here Comes Your Man', the aptly-titled 'Dead' stops you in your tracks with some nice off-kilter madness. This song probably has the most bonkers lyrics you will ever come across on a Pixies album, try and make sense of "You crazy babe bathsheba, I wancha. You're suffocating you need a good shed" and of course the unforgettable refrains of "Uriah hit the crapper, the crapper". This song provides a nice moment of off-kilter charm before the next song 'Monkey Gone To Heaven', one of the definitive Pixies songs. For a lot of people, myself included, this is probably the first Pixies song you heard. The song is a classic example of their quiet-loud dynamics and they work to brilliant effect in this song, Black Francis' almost spoken word verses and Kim Deal's stop-start bass giving way to that unforgettable chorus with some excellent lead guitar work from Joey Santiago. The most magical part of the song of course has to be that last verse "If man is 5, if man is 5, if man is 5. Then the devil is 6, then the devil is 6, then the devil is 6, then the devil is 6. And if the devil is 6 then god is 7, then god is 7, then god is 7" with Black Francis switching to a scream for "god is 7". Feel that chill going down your spine. 'Mr. Grieves' opens with a chilled ska intro and Black Francis' giddy, demented cries of "Hope everything is alright", before switching to some straight-ahead country-infused rock. The pace quickens however with the break-neck 'Crackity Jones', which almost sounds like hardcore-punk done with clean, twanging guitars and a Latino edge. From 0.41 seconds to 1.02 contains some stunning blur-speed guitar work which manages to be both impressively quick and impressively melodic at the same time. This is the shortest song on the album at 1 minute 24 seconds and is over in the blink of an eye. 'La La Love You' slows down the pace and allows you to catch your breath. This song is distinctive for being only one of two Pixies songs to feature drummer David Lovering on lead vocals, the other song being b-side 'Make Believe'. 'La La Love You' is another song that shows how diverse the Pixies are on this album compared to their previous releases. One of the most notable strengths of Doolittle is the variety of the songs and how songs sound completely different to the previous song yet it all somehow fits together perfectly. David Lovering's deep baritone croon makes this lament to love all the more romantic while Joey Santiago's sexy-sounding guitar lines provide the perfect backing. Like 'Here Comes Your Man' this song shows the pop potential that the Pixies had.

There is a dark tension in Black Francis' voice on 'No. 13 Baby'. His surrealist lyrics paint all kinds of strange pictures in your head, such as "Chair in the yard in the house next door. Where a grandma bought some songs from the shore. Six foot girl gonna sweat when she dig. Stand close to the fire when they light the pig". This is also the longest track on the album and features a nice extended instrumental section in the latter half of the song, giving lead guitarist Joey Santiago a chance to strut his stuff. 'There Goes My Gun' is a typical Pixies art-rocker with some off-kilter shouted verses and sparse instrumentation before switching to a more pop-orientated chorus with some great backing vocals from Kim Deal. The song is very minimalist as regards lyrics, making great use of repeating a few nonsensical lines such as "Looka me". Kim Deal's groovy bass and David Lovering's hard-hitting drums form the backbone for the brilliant 'Hey', as the album heads into it's last few songs. Black Francis telling us of "whores in my head, whores at my door, whores in my bed" over some gently picked guitar. The restrained verses build in tension before giving way to a brilliantly memorable chorus, definitely one of the best songs on the latter half of the album. You could argue that 'Silver' is a bit of a filler track, and it is the weakest track on the album I do admit. But one of the most interesting things about this song is the way it lets the band's Neil Young influences shine through. You could almost mistake the dual lead vocals of Francis and Deal to be Neil Young's vocals multi-tracked. As a song however it doesn't really seem to go anywhere but it does invoke a dry, sun-scorched desert feel which I find quite interesting and enjoyable. It's debatable as to whether this song ruins the flow of the album somewhat towards the end, as 'Hey' could have fed nicely into 'Gouge Away' to make for a nice double-punch conclusion, but perhaps it does serve as a break before the onslaught of the final track. And what a final track it is, 'Gouge Away' is as good a closing track you can expect from the Pixies and leaves you thinking about what an awesome album you've just listened to. The song is driven on very nicely by David Lovering's steady, solid drum beat and Kim Deal's throbbing bassline, with Black Francis sounding like he's holding himself back from the edge during the verses before letting it all out for the explosive chorus. The quiet-loud formula has worked so well for the band, especially on this album, and with this track the band have absolutely nailed it. A thrilling conclusion to a thrilling album.

While Doolittle does lack the raw energy and some of the frantic, unhinged madness of Surfer Rosa it more than makes up for it with diversity and moments of melodic brilliance, such as 'Here Comes Your Man' and 'La La Love You'. The better quality production and the use of overdubs allowed them to live up to their potential as a band and further evolve their sound. The band would dabble with even glossier production for the follow-up album Bossanova, but on Doolittle they managed to strike the right balance between good clear production and a natural sound. This album would make the band the darlings of the indie media in the UK and Europe but unfortunately the USA would still ignore them. Never the less the band had created an album that every indie/alternative band that followed would try to match and it's inspiration has spread far and wide. They also created one of my all time favourite albums and I'm nearly certain that there's quite a few others here that feel the same way about it.

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Old 07-15-2011, 06:41 AM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Some live footage and an interview with Black Francis from 1989:









"MTV really sucks" - you heard it from the man himself.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:59 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Great review Zero! I'm not sure I agree with silver being the worst song though, I think the worst is probably "There Goes My Gun."

Can't wait to see your reviews on Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde!
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:04 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Great review Zero! I'm not sure I agree with silver being the worst song though, I think the worst is probably "There Goes My Gun."

Can't wait to see your reviews on Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde!
Thank you. 'There Goes My Gun' is probably one of the weaker songs on the album. It is more or less generic Pixies but it's still a pretty good song, I love the chorus though. I'm going to do the Bossanova review over the weekend.
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Old 08-06-2011, 10:57 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Bossanova
Year: 1990
Producer: Gil Norton
Length: 39:45




Track Listing:
1. Cecilia Ann
2. Rock Music
3. Velouria
4. Allison
5. Is She Weird
6. Ana
7. All Over The World
8. Dig For Fire
9. Down To The Well
10. The Happening
11. Blown Away
12. Hangwire
13. Stormy Weather
14. Havalina

Bossanova was the second Pixies album I bought after Doolittle. I remember seeing the rather excellent video for 'Velouria', which featured the band members moving in super-slow motion down some rocks, and thought "this song is awesome, I have to get this album next" Just watch the video, it's so simple yet so awesome. Bossanova really doesn’t disappoint as such, trying to top Doolittle was always going to be a tough challenge for the band, but fair play to them they did pretty damn well. On Doolittle, their first album with Gil Norton, the glossier production gave their sound more clarity and gave their music more listener appeal. On Bossanova the band would take this further and create a very melodic and straight-forward rock album with shimmering production, and as a result move even further away from the raw, energetic madness of Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa. By the time of this album tensions had already come to a head between Black Francis and Kim Deal, resulting in a brief hiatus. On return Francis had made it clear that the Pixies was his band and he assumed all creative control on this album, leaving Kim Deal feeling a bit alienated.

The album opens with an interpretation of The Surftones' instrumental 'Cecilia Ann', a track which seems to combine spaghetti-western soundscapes with Iron Maiden-esque gallops and even keyboards. Black Francis’ love of metal is perhaps the key influence on this track and would have more of an influence on the next album Triompe le Monde. 'Cecilia Ann' however is a very good introduction to this album, so good that Muse decided to rip it off for their song 'Knights of Cydonia'. 'Rock Music' couldn’t be a more suitable name for the second track. Joey Santiago’s energetic punk riffs provide the perfect backing for Black Francis’ intense and indecipherable screaming. The odd time signature in the verses adds to the unhinged feel of the song and shows that the Pixies were still willing to experiment with musical arrangements as well as write brilliant pop songs. However there’s none of this vocal intensity to be found elsewhere on the album as Francis’ vocals move more towards melodic, straight-forward singing on the biggest part of the album. The more melodic and better-produced sound does work wonders though at times, especially on the brilliantly memorable 'Velouria', which is one of the best songs the band ever recorded. Joey Santiago’s melodic, laser-precision lead guitar line in the intro is one of the many, many reasons to love the Pixies. He knows exactly what he’s doing with his guitar and makes it sound so effortless. As usual Black Francis’ lyrics don’t really make much sense, "Hold my head, we’ll trampoline, finally through the roof, on to somewhere near, and far in time". They do however paint a clear yet strange image in your head and seems to suggest space travel of some sort. This is the Pixies at their very best and stands up against all the standout songs on Doolittle and Surfer Rosa. The short sprint of 'Allison' follows this up very nicely, allowing the album to pick up pace a little bit. This is another highlight of the album, the fast surf-punk guitars recall their earlier material but this is combined with Francis’ melodic vocals to create a short, sharp pop song. There’s even some time for a noisy guitar solo and some Iron Maiden style-gallops with its one minute eighteen second length.

'Is She Weird' brings the album, and indeed the Pixies’ sound, into a darker and previously unexplored territory and marks an evolution in their sound further away from that on Come On Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa. David Lovering’s processed drums and Joey Santiago’s creepy-sounding guitars set the dark and hushed atmosphere for the song, but it’s Kim Deal’s bass and Black Francis’ unusually quiet vocals during the verses that really add to this feel. In true Pixies fashion however this atmosphere is punctuated by a louder chorus which allows Francis to raise his voice somewhat and towards the end of the song the band flex their muscles a bit and build up the noise though layers of guitar and Francis’ screaming vocals. 'Ana' shows a quieter and dreamier side to the Pixies, something you would have never imagined on Surfer Rosa. Playing a blinder on this song is lead guitarist Joey Santiago who sounds so effortless in his playing. Throughout the course of the album there are some moments of sheer brilliance from Joey who had now refined his lead guitar style into one that is full of melodic beauty and expression. Kim Deal and David Lovering are of course as solid as ever as evident in the intro to 'All Over The World', Kim’s groovy little bass line locks in perfectly with David’s solid beat and Joey’s guitar licks. The song follows a typical quiet-loud format although the chorus doesn’t quite pack the punch it should. What does pack a punch however is Joey’s guitar playing and especially those two solos after the first chorus. This song is basically like two songs stuck together, with the second ‘song’ forming what sounds like an extended outro to the first one. It makes for a pretty good ending to the first half of the album. Along with 'Velouria', 'Dig For Fire' is one of the highlights of the album for me and is among the Pixies’ best moments. The song has an almost funky edge to it, with tight funky-sounding guitars and Lovering’s almost danceable drum beats. As per usually with any of the Pixies’ songs the lyrics paint a strange and surreal picture in your mind, "There is this old woman, she live down the road, you can often find her kneeling inside of her hole, and I often ask her ‘are you looking for the mother lode?’ Huh? No. No my child this is not my desire and then she said, I’m digging for fire". Black Francis’ straight-forward vocals really seem to drive the song and those vocal hooks of "I’m digging for fire" make the chorus, and the song itself, one of the band’s most memorable moments. The album once again takes a slower and darker turn with the haunting 'Down To The Well'. The song features an excellent lead guitar line from Joey which is prominent throughout the verses of the song. Vocal-wise while Francis’ vocals do have a dark and uneasy feel to them they can’t compete with Joey’s guitar and fail to add much to the song. But just listen to the guitars on this song and you will be impressed. During the second half of the album however the music does seem to drop in quality, but only slightly. While ‘The Happening’ is a very good song it clearly can’t compete with some of the album tracks of Doolittle and Surfer Rosa. One very noticeable feature about this song however is, like 'All Over The World', is basically two songs stuck together. The second song here is in fact 'The Thing' which appears in standalone form on the band’s Complete 'B' Sides compilation.

'Blown Away' I can admit is a filler track. Although not a bad song you can’t help but feel they can do much better than this. The only thing that really seems to grab you here is some brief lead guitar licks but the song itself is not really worth noting. Coming in like a breath of fresh air somewhat is the rather good 'Hangwire', which basically sounds like the first cousin of 'There Goes My Gun' on Doolittle. Like the latter this is a relatively simple and straight-forward Pixies song with quieter, restrained verses and a punchy, memorable chorus. The lyrics are rather interesting and striking, "They’re going higher, wind is whistling on the barbs, your head’s a hammer". The lyrics also lend themselves to the album title "Every morning and every day, I’ll bossanova with you". Not the best song on the album but certainly one of the better ones. Following this however is the worst song on the album and possibly one of the Pixies’ weakest moments 'Stormy Weather'. It just sounds like they just couldn’t really be bothered with the developing the song into anything interesting. It’s pretty uninspiring and they could have easily have just left this song off the album. The lyrics just consist of Francis repeating the line "It is time for stormy weather", and perhaps going on longer than it should have. The album does end however on a sweet note with the beautiful and dreamy 'Havalina'. The guitars add a romantic air to the song while the soft cries of "Havalina" create a dreamy and otherworldly feeling. The disappointing thing about this song however is that it could have been developed into more of a song; one verse just doesn’t seem like enough and leaves you wanting more. But still it is a nice song to end the album with.

Bossanova does have some brilliant moments that are up there with the Pixies’ best. The musicianship appears to have come on in leaps and bounds and the production is even glossier than Doolittle with greater evidence of overdubbing, vocal effects and various instrumental effects. What seems to let this album down slightly are the songs. Despite songs like 'Velouria', 'Allison' and 'Dig For Fire' being among the Pixies’ best, overall the album lacks songs that can compete with songs on Doolittle and Surfer Rosa, as a result this album falls just behind those two albums. But this album is certainly well worth getting and is a very enjoyable album to listen to. Those who feel slightly underwhelmed by it after listening to Doolittle and Surfer Rosa will grow to love it in no time and like Doolittle and Surfer Rosa this album does have a character and feel of its own and is just another step in the evolution of the Pixies’ sound.

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Old 08-06-2011, 11:25 AM   #20 (permalink)
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By the time of this album tensions had already come to a head between Black Francis and Kim Deal, resulting in a brief hiatus. On return Francis had made it clear that the Pixies was his band and he assumed all creative control on this album, leaving Kim Gordon feeling a bit alienated.
Why was Kim Gordon feeling alienated by Black Francis and Kim Deal's relationship?
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