Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pixies- EP 2

Ok, let me get this out of the way- clearly, Charles Thompson is difficult. He cannot keep bass players be they Kim Deal or Shattuck, or be they Eric Drew Feldman.  I can't deny that. However, what else would you call a band featuring his voice, Joey's magnificent guitar, his songs, and that style? It's the Pixies, with or without Kim Deal. Plus, honestly, this new EP is the best I've heard from the Pixies moniker since "Bossanova". So, yes, this is the Pixies.
Four songs, no filler. "Blue Eyed Hexe" is an out of control rocker that only the Pixies could do. It starts from a grungey AC/DC style boogie riff complete with cowbell, and then takes off. Black Francis even  finds a new use for that scream, making the song structure go sideways, as he builds it into ever more crazed frenzy, and then, poof! lets the whole thing drop.
Magdalena is a smooth, surfy, pop song with those off-kilter harmonies that dominated Bossanova. It's beautiful, and anyone who relegates it is just bitter they didn't get the idealized Pixies in their mind. This is the sound of the Pixies, and I'm happy with it.
Greens and Blues deliberately addresses the ghosts of Doolittle, and it's gorgeous- and so easily misunderstood. Black Francis is trying to get this across- if you're assuming who he is based upon who you think he should be you are "wasting your time"- he is only creating the Art he creates, not fitting into an injection mold we call Pixies, and if you can just take it as it comes, you are rewarded with a song that is both simply beautiful and deeply twisted.
Finally, we're back in Joey-land with the closing rocker - Snakes. He's just as vital to Pixies as Black Francis. Without his unique take on rock guitar, there is no Pixies. It's this weird mix of  James Williamson meets The Ventures, and layered like Wire on 154. Simply awesome.
It's too bad that this carries the weight of unfair expectations- I haven't read all the reviews but I can guess- Pitchfork hates it, the British press likes it, but only wants to talk about the backstage drama, and talk about themselves, the reviewer. I consider the lukewarm response part of the disease of our fame culture- it's why music magazines rarely show artists with instruments, why movie magazines rarely show Actors acting, why everything has to start with a biographical paragraph.  It's about creating a cult of celebrity. I'd prefer to celebrate cults. So, this is the new EP by the Pixies, and it's got damn fine rock music on it, made by people who craft their rock music in a way you don't hear anywhere else. It's done extremely well, and shows enormous talent. What more do you need?

Doom- Corrupt F**ing System

I always found it funny that The UK Doom was a Discharge styled Crust band, meaning a band that fuses anarcho punk with heavy metal, whereas in the US, Doom is most certainly a punk styled traditional metal band.
Anyway, they've been silent for a long while, but not forgotten. I still love the Police Bastard EP, and the Total Doom LP, but with all the line up changes, label changes ( and slagging their former labels) I lost touch with them back in the 1990's.
However, I did pay my way into buying this new LP on Bandcamp, and well, for the most part, yeah, still Doom. Like Amebix minus the keyboards meets Discharge. It's got  vocal samples, and scooped out guitars ( mids are a crime in Crust, I'm used to it) and D-beats with the drums too closely mic'ed galore. If I sound dismissive, I kind of am. I like it, but others have taken the crust torch to such better places- from Tragedy who still are more than a little crust-y, to Kylesa, who only bear vestigal bits of crust. Hearing a throwback to 1990 styled Crust seems quaint at best. I personally think it's just a way of saying "Yeah we're still here, 25 years later"
So, why slag it off? Well, I don't mean to, and I have listened to it, and heard it, and enjoyed parts of it.  I still have a soft spot for Thrash, D-beat, Crust, and Grind. However, it does bring up the question- when should you hang it up? When is it done? There's still an audience, and my misgivings aside, I'd probably go see Doom if they were playing nearby this weekend. So, do I want them to stop? Hell No! But, does it carry the same level of inspiration, and artistic integrity it once did? Hell No!- so, I'm left with that question hanging- when does the show stop?