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Old 06-25-2011, 03:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Wave Of Mutilation: Pixies Reviewed

Wave Of Mutilation: Pixies Reviewed



Introduction

I've thought about doing something like this for a while and now I've decided to give it a shot. In this thread I am going to review the Pixies' four studio albums; Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, Bossanova and Trompe le Monde, along with their debut E.P. Come On Pilgrim as well as other significant releases and things of interest. I have a number of reasons for doing this. Firstly I would love to introduce newcomers to the band's exciting music. Secondly I would like to encourage casual fans here to look deeper into the band and explore them that little bit more, in the hope that I can change their perspective and they will appreciate the band a lot more. Thirdly I would like to encourage existing fans here to go and revisit their catalogue and perhaps generate some renewed interest about them on this forum. Finally this will be an exciting challenge for me and a pleasure to do.

I do admit that the first time I heard the Pixies I wasn't really that interested, even though I was a big fan of Nirvana. It wasn't until my last year of school aged 18 that I started to appreciate alternative rock and indie music a lot more and started to explore it. One of my friends encouraged me to check out Doolittle, which I did, and soon enough the album clicked with me and it was a relevation. Thanks to the Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins and The Cure, by the time I started college, the door to all the great indie and alternative rock bands of the 80's and 90's wasn't just opened up for me, it was smashed to bits and the entire wall demolished.

Really the Pixies need no introduction, but for those of you who haven't a f ucking clue the Pixies formed in 1986 when Charles Thompson IV (a.k.a. Black Francis, a.k.a. Frank Black) met Joey Santiago while studying at the University of Massachusetts. Shortly afterwards they recruited bassist Kim Deal and drummer David Lovering to make the line-up complete. They settled on the name 'Pixies' after Joey Santiago picked it randomly from the dictionary and they liked the name because of it's visual appearance and meaning. The band's "Purple Tape" demo found it's way into the hands of 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell who in fact dismissed the band at first, but had a change of mind and then signed the band to his label. The band would then go on to do good things for the label before splitting in 1993.

In a similar way to The Velvet Underground, the Pixies only had moderate success during their original period together, but their influence on alternative rock and indie bands that would follow is significant. Mainstream success would eventually come to them through their influence on bands such as Nirvana, Pavement, The Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Neutral Milk Hotel, Built To Spill, Radiohead etc., even up to more recent years with bands such as Silversun Pickups as well as a few 'Best Of' compilations. The band reunited in 2004 and toured around the world with huge success over the years. Apart from the single 'Bam Thwok' the band have released no new material since their reunion, but there is always the slight possibility of it happening.

Anyway I hope you enjoy reading this and appreciate it. Zero.

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Old 06-25-2011, 03:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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rock n roll
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Old 06-25-2011, 03:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hell Yeah.


I saw the documentary loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies last year.

Divine.

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Old 06-25-2011, 04:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Come On Pilgrim
Year: 1987
Producer: Gary Smith
Length: 20:28




Track Listing:
1. Caribou
2. Vamos
3. Isla de Encanta
4. Ed Is Dead
5. Holiday Song
6. Nimrod's Son
7. I've Been Tired
8. Levitate Me

Come On Pilgrim is the debut EP/mini-album from Boston's finest pioneers of indie-rock. The EP consists of 8 tracks taken from the band's 17-track 'Purple Tapes' demo (nearly all the songs on this demo have appeared on subsequent Pixies albums). Although this 8-song offering is still a bit rough around the edges compared to later releases such as Doolittle and Bossanova, it clearly shows the potential that this band had and gives plenty of hints of what was to come on subsequent releases. All the unhinged madness of Black Francis' songwriting and vocals, lead guitarist Joey Santiago's soaring and infectious guitar melodies, Kim Deal's simple yet effective basslines and David Lovering's solid and precise drumming are present here and they very rarely put a foot wrong.

The rambling latin guitar intro to the first track 'Caribou' gives little indication to the listener of what is to come, however it does give way to Black Francis' dark and slightly demented crooning. The sinister-sounding verses give way to noisier-sounding choruses complete with Francis screaming his lungs out over the top. The song demonstrates the quiet-loud dynamic which the band would become known for and also sounds like a blueprint for a lot of grunge bands that would grace the alternative rock world in the late 80's and early 90's. I'm guessing Kurt Cobain was taking note. The second track 'Vamos' would reappear on their debut album proper Surfer Rosa in a longer form but here the song appears in it's original form. It's a slightly rougher version than the one which would appear on Surfer Rosa but it sounds just as good and just as unhinged. Punk and Hispanic influences are thrown together into one bundle and English and Spanish vocals alternate with each other to great effect. What really makes the song stand out for a lot of people is Black Francis' short, stabbing and completely unhinged screams. Completely mental stuff. The Hispanic theme, inspired by Francis' time in Puerto Rico, continues with the frantic 'Isla De Encanta', a relatively short and simple song with three-chord punk riffs and David Lovering's simple yet steady rhythm providing the backing for Black Francis and Kim Deal's Spanish vocals. The song is otherwise broken up by a short noisy guitar solo but otherwise nothing really too special going on here, although it is still a very good song. The marvellous 'Ed Is Dead' however showcases the classic, melodic Pixies sound in it's early stages. Joey Santiago's distinctive and melodic lead-guitar lines are what really make this song. His lead guitar melodies battle with melodic Francis' vocals throughout the song, while Kim Deal's backing vocals compliment Francis' vocals to great effect.

'The Holiday Song' is a gloriously infectious song, demonstrating the pop potential that the Pixies had from the word go. Another effortless and unforgettable Joey Santiago lead guitar melody gives this song it's character, not to mention Black Francis' amazing vocal performance. It really is a classic Pixies tune up there with the likes of 'Gigantic' and 'Monkey Gone To Heaven' and for me is the highlight of this collection. 'Nimrod's Son' follows a similar style to 'Vamos', this fast-paced song seems to resemble Neil Young covering Johnny Cash. It's a tough job trying to make sense of Black Francis' lyrics most of the time, lyrics such as "I shook all night and held her hand. Chocolate people well I'll be damned" will probably only make sense in his own mind or maybe not at all. But his very cryptic lyrics are one of the most fascinating things about the Pixies, their songs could mean so many different things and it's really up to the listener to try and figure them out for themselves. In the following track 'I've Been Tired' a classic Kim Deal bassline and skanking guitars provide the backing for Black Francis' very odd, rambling vocals before switching to a classic Pixies chorus. The Pixies once again proving themselves as the masters of dynamics by alternating different styles and moods. The rather interesting and unconventional lyrics include Black Francis jokingly telling his biggest fear is "losing my penis to a whore with disease". The final track 'Levitate Me' brings the album to a great conclusion. The darker, atonal-sounding verses alternate very well with the uplifting and deeply melodic chorus. Francis' vocals sound passionate and strained throughout and really show that he is giving it all he's got. The song ends rather nicely with another great melodic lead guitar line from Joey.

At twenty minutes and twenty-nine seconds Come On Pilgrim is all over in a flash and leaves you wanting more. Although their sound isn't quite the finished product and the record doesn't quite have the vision and direction of Surfer Rosa and Doolittle it does give a very good indication of what was to come on their debut full-length album Surfer Rosa. But the Pixies were off to a flying start.

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Old 06-25-2011, 06:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It's always nice to the the Pixies getting attention. Nice review! I will keep an eye on this one.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Sweet review Zero! Can't wait for the rest of em!
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Surfer Rosa
Year: 1988
Producer: Steve Albini
Length: 33:32




Track Listing:

1. Bone Machine
2. Break My Body
3. Something Against You
4. Broken Face
5. Gigantic
6. River Euphrates
7. Where Is My Mind?
8. Cactus
9. Tony's Theme
10. Oh My Golly!
11. Untitled
12. Vamos
13. I'm Amazed
14. Brick Is Red

I got Surfer Rosa and Come On Pilgrim together as the one CD, but of course it would make more sense to review them separately instead as the one package. Surfer Rosa was the third Pixies album I bought after Doolittle and Bossanova and is one of those albums which did a great deal in helping me shape my music tastes and become the person I am today. It is also one of those albums that brings me back to a certain moment in time as well, a time before I had a car and I used to have to travel places by public bus, with my little mp3 player and I'd listen this album quite a lot. For this album the band hooked up with the one and only Steve Albini, an excellent choice in producer as his no bullsh!t production techniques helped the band progress yet still keep the raw sound they had on their debut EP Come On Pilgrim.

From the first thuds of David Lovering's drums in the intro to 'Bone Machine' you can tell that the band mean business here. If Come On Pilgrim managed to get a few people's attention in the alternative rock world here they were going to have to prove that they were worth the attention of a far greater number. This song initially seems to be about a girl, but when you hear Black Francis' insane surrealist lyrics in the second verse "I was talking to preachy-preach about kissy-kiss. He bought me a soda. He bought me a soda. He bought me a soda and he tried to molest me in the parking lot. Yep, yep yep yep!" you really start to scratch your head and wonder what the song is about. Perhaps this means something, perhaps it doesn't, but it does give the song a surreal and dark edge. The most striking feature of this song however is Joey Santiago's brilliant and memorable guitar lines which give the song a slightly groovy yet unhinged feel. 'Break My Body' is characterised by an alternating time-signature between the verses and the chorus. The odd time-signature in the chorus gives the music a more artful feel and is a sign of the musical progression from their Come On Pilgrim debut. Kim Deal's bass here seems to have a will of it's own, perhaps making good use of the musical creativity that she still had in the band at the time. Following this is one of the most distinctive and most aggressive songs on the album 'Something Against You', with Black Francis barking the line "I've got something against you" all throughout the song through a distorted vocal effect. The cool little intro riff is an indication of the bands surf-rock influences and will get stuck in your head for days. The song also features what is probably one of the best uses of the word 'prick' ever in music, with the very last line "Oh yeah, I am one happy prick". The song is over in under two minutes and is just so irresistibly goofy. Continuing with the frantic punk-rock pace is the just as bonkers 'Broken Face', with Black Francis singing "I got a broken face" like a giddy mental patient. The song however does briefly deal with the dark theme of incest; "There was this boy who had two children with his sisters. They were is daughters. They were his favourite lovers". Doing a brilliant job of keeping everything together musically is drummer David Lovering, whose brilliantly precise drumming controls the pace of the song and doesn't miss a beat in the process.

The bass intro to the next song is unmistakable. The terrific 'Gigantic' is the only song written by and sung by Kim Deal (credited here as Mrs. John Murphy) on this album and also proves that she had what it takes to be a good songwriter and vocalist and not just the bass player and backing vocalist in the band. The song is a classic example of the quiet-loud format that the band are known for, with the verses restrained and melodic and the chorus sounding huge and urging you to shout along. The song gives way to an electric climax with some nice noisy guitars and a melodic undercurrent. If pop music means simple, memorable music then this must surely be one of the best pop songs there ever was. Fractured melodies and noise collide on the next song 'River Euphrates', which also features some weird alternating time-signatures and some nice surreal lyrics from Black Francis. Trying to make sense of this song is a challenge; "Dead Sea make it float, One sip from the salty wine. Dead Sea make you choke. Let's ride the tiger down River Euphrates". The song features some really great guitar work from Joey Santiago and showcases his knack for effortless guitar melody. Not to mention the rock that is drummer David Lovering keeping it all together. "Ooooooh stop", and so starts Black Francis' unmistakable acoustic guitar melody and eerily distant cries of "oooo-ooh" in the intro to 'Where Is My Mind?'. Joey Santiago pours his unforgettable lead guitar melody perfectly over this and what a sweet melody it is. Something about this song just makes you feel good and not give a **** about anything that's bothering you in life, this is what makes this one of the great Pixies songs. Despite all of this the song does seem like an ode to insanity and does have a bit of a dark edge to it, but the care-free yet haunting feeling of the song is what really makes it stand out among all the other great Pixies songs. It's a really great song to listen to really late at night lying in bed with your headphones, as the last eerie cry of "oooo-ooh" enters your ears you feel a slight chill going down your spine. The dark, sinister and minimalist-sounding 'Cactus' features Black Francis singing over a repetitive glam riff reminiscent of T. Rex's 'Get It On'. Here Francis seems to be with either lonely in the absence of a lover or creepily obsessing over an ex-lover; "Sitting here wishing on a cement floor. Just wishing that I had just something you wore. I put it on when I go lonely. Will you take off your dress and send it to me?".

Kim Deal's bright and enthusiastic voice introduces the next song 'Tony's Theme'. The super-cool-sounding punk riffs and the shout-along chorus of "To-ny" make this an uplifting and infectious tune. There's even a bit of time for some grinding guitar noise/anti-soloing in the middle. The short and energetic 'Oh My Golly!' sounds like the close cousin of 'Isla de Encanta' off their debut Come On Pilgrim, with it's buzz-saw guitars and Spanish lyrics. The Spanish lyrics are offset by cries of "Oh my golly! Oh my golly!" and the song lyrics also lend the album it's title; "Besando, chinando con surfer rosa (Kissing and chewing with surfer rosa)". A short untitled interlude sandwiches itself in between 'Oh My Golly!' and the next song 'Vamos'. This recording features a bit of humorous studio banter and Black Francis explaining his reason to someone unknown for shouting "you ****ing die!" at Kim Deal. Mental stuff. 'Vamos' picks up where 'Oh My Golly!' left off for some Hispanic-tinged mayhem. 'Vamos' also appeared in shorter original form on debut EP Come On Pilgrim, but the band re-recorded it here for their debut album proper and extended the song by over a minute. Overall the instruments pack more punch and the vocals have more energy and clarity than they did on the original version. The extended mid-section contains some nice surreal improvised guitar noise and of course some insane screams from Black Francis. The song fits into this album perfectly and works remarkably well here. 'I'm Amazed' opens with what appears to be a segment of an interview with Kim Deal and Black Francis talking about someone's exploits with school hockey players. It's unclear whether it's a true story or a fictional piece written in the studio but it sounds pretty crazy. The song itself is short, fast and over in the blink of an eye and also features dual vocals from Black Francis and Kim Deal. It's not a bad song as such but it does sound like a bit of filler just thrown in towards the end for the hell of it. The album finishes with 'Brick Is Red', which is dominated by some nice bluesy and melodic lead guitar work from Joey Santiago. The vocals don't appear until past the half-way mark of this two-minute song and the lyrics are as cryptic as you can expect from Black Francis; "A fist is fast. And Jimmy's cast. Hang Me". The album does seem to pelter out slightly over the last two songs but it doesn't take away from the greatness of this album.

Surfer Rosa was a step in the right direction for the Pixies. It earned the band a big following in Europe and the UK and they were also established them as one of the key bands in the American independent underground rock scene. This was the only album that the band made with Steve Albini as producer. The drum sounds that he got on this album are certainly worth noting, as it's always great to hear drums that actually sound like a person playing drums. It was this raw yet crisp production that inspired many bands to seek the productions talents of Steve Albini, including a certain Nirvana who got him to produce In Utero with them. The band would go on to even bigger and better things with their next album Doolittle, and cement their reputation as one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time.

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Old 06-28-2011, 06:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yeah, i love me some surfer rosa. just got it recently actually.
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundgardenRocks View Post
Yeah, i love me some surfer rosa. just got it recently actually.
Good stuff. It's one of those album that you will never get sick of.
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Old 06-29-2011, 03:04 PM   #10 (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.
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