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Death to the Pixies – Is Indie Cindy really that bad?

IndieCindyWhen the Pixies reformed for some shows a decade ago – I know – nobody really minded. There was the some small talk of legacies being pissed on, as if some live shows you could choose not to go to would somehow supersede a career that is to alternative rock what Elvis was to everything else. But in the main, people thought they deserved to top up their pension funds. Intermittent blasts round the festival scene since have also been looked on kindly. After all, they could still actually do the songs justice, and what songs they are. Overall, everybody was happy enough to sort of have Pixies around as an entity.

But with fans still digesting the news that Kim Deal had left the band there came the announcement of new recordings. The departure of Deal raised issues of whether it was valid to call this project ‘Pixies’ when it could be argued that it was now 75% Pixies. When faced with the threat of actual new music, those critics recoiled in horror. This was not the Pixies and they weren’t going to like it, come what may. The band released what would become Indie Cindy in three installments; critics predictably filleted them. But how much of it was to do with the music? Look at Pitchfork; they slaughtered two of the EPs, declined to review the third and then – in place of a review of this album – announced they would instead be reviewing the band’s back catalogue.

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Friday From the Vault – Pixies

A drunken argument exists between some of the ELM staff, to wit: Kim Deal is more talented than Frank Black. Discuss.

But before you do, enjoy this classic Pixies performance of ‘Gigantic’ from 1988. It literally doesn’t get much better than this.

The Songs That Saved Your Life – The 80s; Where Is My Mind?

Surfer RosaThere was more to the 80s than Duran Duran and massive cocaine habits, you know. Scandalously disregarding the work of Sonia, Salamander takes us through the fashions and then goes for a song coming right out of left field.

The 80s, then; the decade of big hair and enough hairspray to have caused the ozone layer to disintegrate, the fashion outrage that was shoulder pads, plastic jewellery, fluorescent leg warmers, flying suits, teabag shoes, dropwaisted skirts, double breasted shirts, boating jackets, Frankie Says Relax t-shirts (not together with the boating jacket, that would have been seriously uncool) and jeans which you spent hours with your mums sewing machine trying to take in to be as tight as humanly possible whilst still being able to get your legs into. Who can forget smelly rubbers, short hair (but worn with a pony tail), Miami Vice, Ford Capri’s, and taping the charts off the radio on a Sunday night with David “Kid” Jensen? Continue reading

Pixies Announce European Tour Details

PixiesSing hosannas, if the Pixies have only gone and announced details of a European tour for October that includes shows in London, Dublin and Glasgow.

Frank Black and co will play two nights at the Dublin Olympia, four at the O2 Academy Brixton in London and one at the Glasgow SECC. The mini tour will be entitled the ‘Doolittle’ tour to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of that album. Ah, remember when bands used to name tours?

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Can you make too much music?

Was thinking about Kim Deal and Frank Black after the Breeders gig (see reviews) and was comparing their respective solo outputs. The Breeders have made four albums in 20 years. In all his guises, FB is well into double figures. In terms of who has the stronger cannon, I’d plump for Deal. It’s not that there aren’t great moments in the Black back catalogue, but you do have to panhandle to find a lot of it. Is it talent or is it quality control?

Ryan Adams springs to mind. Including Whiskeytown work, he has released a dozen albums, one a double, in 10 years. That’s a hell of a lot of recorded music and you would need to be his Mum to love all of it. Now, I’m all for artists working, but you can’t help but feel that given the amount of great music he HAS recorded – and it really is a lot – he could have one of the track records of any artist out there now. But most new releases of his are greeted with a shrug. he’s an artist you would love more if you heard from him less.

Is it fear of being left behind? Of having worked your way into the spotlight, you aren’t going to let people forget you are there? I’d argue that, perversely, it just makes people take you for granted. Look at the Fall; I’m not even going to hazard how many albums he has released – I saw an estimate in a music monthly saying well over FIFTY! – and, if you go by critical reaction, they are usually decent. But who rushes out and buys one the day it comes out? Why bother?

I’m not saying every act should be the Blue Nile and release every 8 years, but surely a sensible rule of thumb is that if you haven’t got the songs, don’t try and force one out? Look at Metallica and the hideous destruction of what they had achieved in a 25 year career that was ‘St.Anger’. They had no juice. They had no direction. They had no tunes. Yet out it came spilling, and it lost them a good few fans.

I suppose in the end it’s whether you believe music is inspiration or perspiration. Count me in the first camp.

The Breeders – Glasgow ABC

Some things in life never change. Kim and Kelley Deal bound on having spent approximately no time in wardrobe; Kim in particular appears to be wearing a hoodie lent to her by Frank Black. Nor has the ferocious energy of the band diminished. They still make a massive racket and they still sound like almost no-one else (one band, obviously, are the honourable exception.)

Let’s get the P-word out of the way early. Rumours abound that the band will make an album but Kim has no interest in doing it. In that case, it’s a Black Francis/Frank Black/Charles Thompson solo album with a better sales hook. And in that case, it will be as sadly inessential as most of his solo work. A recurring thought watching tonight is that the Deal girl’s solo work absolutely dwarfs that of her bandmate. She’s always had more about her than loudQUIETloud.

It’s an audience who were aged 15-30 when ‘Cannonball’ hit the indie discos, that’s for sure. It does make you wonder about the dispoasble cash of the early 90’s generation these days. There is no way in God’s Earth that in 1993 the Breeders would have filled a venue this size. And there’s something naggingly familiar about the magnificently skewed chord structures, fucked-up surf pop and bubblegum vocals assaulting our membranes tonight. Indeed, it reminds your writer a bit of Syd Barrett in that there is no artifice; these songs sound like these songs because that’s the way they come out of the writers id. You or I could sit down and try to copy it, but it just wouldn’t sound right – see Veruca Salt and Lush by way of example.

‘I hate when I go to see a band and they play all new songs. But when you are in a band, it’s the new songs you want to play. So we’re gonna meet in the middle!’ Deal announces, and she’s as good as her word. ‘Bang On’ from new album ‘Mountain Battles’ would make a great single, while the affecting, acoustic ‘Here No More’ is a Deal-girls only lament. ‘Cannonball’ still sounds like nothing else on Earth, and is received by the audience with a fervour bordering on a free bar announcement. A cover of ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ is despatched, and they return for a spirited three-song encore culminating in a frenetic ‘German Studies’.

Gloriously happy and still that beguiling turn left of the dial, the Breeders remind you of the power of cool girls with guitars. It’s also time that Deal’s place in the history of alternative rock is recognised. She has always been and always will be a hell of a lot more than merely a member of an influential group.