Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pixies - A Rough Guide

From Wikipedia:
"The Pixies are an American alternative rock band that formed in Boston
 in 1986... The band's style of alternative rock music is heavily
 influenced by punk and indie rock, and while highly melodic, is capable
 of being abrasive at the same time. Francis is the Pixies' primary
 songwriter and singer and has a distinctly desperate, yowling delivery.
 He has typically written cryptic songs about offbeat subjects, such as
 UFOs and surrealism. References to mental instability, violent Biblical
 imagery, and physical injury feature in many of the band's songs...
 Avowed fan Kurt Cobain's acknowledgement of the debt Nirvana owed to
 the Pixies."

The band is credited with perfecting the "loud/soft/loud" dynamic in
alternative music.  A recent documentary about the band was titled

The band broke up in the early 1990s, but has recently reformed and
embarked on a world tour.  A couple of the band members have had success
outside the band.  Lead singer/songwriter Black Francis (aka Frank
Black) has released several albums, both solo and with his new band the
Catholics.  Kim Deal has had some hits with The Breeders, a band that
includes her sister.

The band's official web site:

The links in the guide below are to YouTube movies.  If the links are
blocked, you listen to samples of tracks via the album pages on All

The "rough guide" ...

1. "Gigantic"
The band's debut album, "Surfer Rosa", was released in 1988.  This was
the only single taken from the album, and is one of the few songs where
bassist Kim Deal sings lead vocals.  Unfortunately there is no official
video.  This clip has the album version of the track with some
interesting facts thrown in among the photos of the band.  For example,
the real name of the lead singer is the very un-rock and roll sounding
Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV.

2. "Where Is My Mind?"
An aptly titled track, given the weird lyrics that feature in many of
the band's songs.  This track also appears on the "Fight Club"
soundtrack (1999).

Other standout track from the band's debut album include the opener
"Bone Machine" and "River Euphrates"

3. "Debaser"
This is an official video of the opening track from the band's second
album, "Doolittle", released in 1989.  The song references a 1929
surrealist film, "Un chien andalou" - for example, the lyric "slicing
up eyeballs".

The raw sound of the band's debut, produced by Steve Albini, made way
for a more polished sound.  Gil Norton went on to produce the rest of
the band's studio albums.

4. "Here Comes Your Man"
This is the first single from "Doolittle".  It's probably the first
Pixies song I ever heard, when it was part of the test tape that was
played repeatedly before Triple J started broadcasting officially in
Adelaide in 1989.

5. "Monkey Gone to Heaven"
The band's second single from "Doolittle".  A classic Pixies song.

6. "Wave of Mutilation"
Another standout on "Doolittle", which is my favourite Pixies album.
Other great songs include "Tame", "There Goes My Gun" and "Gouge Away".

7. "Velouria"
In 1990, the band released its third album, "Bossanova".  "Velouria",
was the second single from the album.  This is the official video, but
the sound quality not the best in this version.  It's a simple clip,
featuring the band members climbing down a rock in extreme slow motion.

8. "Dig for Fire"
This was the first single from the album.  It's an okay song, but not
the best on the album and a strange pick for a single in my opinion.

9. "Down to the Well"
One of my personal favourite songs from "Bossanova", featuring the
classic loud/soft/loud dynamic.  Other solid songs on the album include
the opener "Cecilia Ann" (a cover of a surf instrumental), the raucous
"Rock Music", and "Is She Weird".

10. "Planet of Sound"
In 1991 the band released its fourth album in as many years, "Trompe le
Monde".  Francis' obsession with UFOs is very prominent in the lyrics of
many of the songs.  "Planet of Sound" song was released as a single in
the UK.  This is a live version from the TV archives.

11. "Head On"
The second single in the US was a cover of a Jesus and Mary Chain song.
This is the official video clip, featuring a live version of the song.

12. "Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons"
One of my fave tracks from "Trompe le Monde".  Other standout tracks
include "Alec Eiffel" and the title track.  It was their last studio

Bonus tracks...

13. Pixies: "I Can't Forget"
From the tribute to Leonard Cohen, "I'm Your Fan".

14. Frank Black: "Los Angeles"

15. The Breeders: "Cannonball" featuring Kim Deal