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Pixies Straighten Up and Fly Right

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The Pixies demoed over 20 originals and some covers in their upstate NY sessions with producer Tom Dalgety last year, whittling them down to 12 tracks for the new gothic record Beneath the Eyrie. Much of the warts-and-all recording process was captured in the excellent 12-part lead-up It’s a Pixies Podcast. You’ll find no other iconic band pulling the curtain back on their process with the same amount of honesty.

Dalgety has a way of smoothing over Pixies’ rough edges to sometimes exquisite effect. Other times you may miss the rust and crunch of producers Steve Albini and Gil Norton. But it’s not 1988, and this is an older, wiser band with adult aches and pains – and a sudden interest in being less obtuse. Some fans may not be ready to hear Black Francis sing straight-forward lines like “I’m ready for love” and “Last night I was driving around, nothing to do, thinking of you.” Fans of Frank Black, however, may be better prepared. Personas are a bitch. So are rigid expectations.

Folks like to talk about a Pixies “sound,” and there is something certainly recognizable as that, but the sonic arcs between albums only extend a record or two. Surfa Rosa and Doolittle share a sound, but there’s less in common between Doolittle and Bossanova, or between Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde. Indie Cindy (made 23 years later) does pick up where Trompe left off, but the next two records, Head Carrier and Beneath the Eyrie, find the band moving beyond that entirely, even though the DNA is most assuredly Pixies.

Eyrie kicks off with the bubbling “In the Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain,” a track with no real precedent in their catalog, but another that proves drummer David Lovering is the skeleton holding the body up. Things get a little more traditionally Pixies with “On Graveyard Hill,” even if the lyrics are less esoteric than fans have grown to expect. This rolls into “Catfish Kate,” a downright story song with Black playing narrator Blackjack Hooligan. The track is one of the few on Eyrie to employ that tried-and-true loud/quiet/loud aesthetic.

Guitarist Joey Santiago lets it rip on “Ready for Love,” bringing his new-found sobriety into focus. Perhaps in deference to Joey, the band’s upcoming tour will be dry – no drugs or alcohol. I know it’s not as simple as that, and perhaps Black’s marital woes have something to do with cleaning up for the tour. But wine is all over this record (and the podcast), especially in the tipsy chorus of the Tom Waits-ish “This Is My Fate” and in the poetic refrain of “Silver Bullet.”

“The shade is drawn with stem and vine
Burned in the flame of a man condemned
With venom wine and golden dawn
A silver bullet in the chamber turning”

Bassist extraordinaire Paz Lenchantin gets writing credit on the ’90s-sounding “Long Rider” and sister track “Los Surfers Muertos,” which pay homage to a fellow surfer that lost her life carving the waves. “St. Nazaire” throws a raucous bone to fans, with a story steeped in the type of seaweed-covered mythology Pixies die-hards know well. It’s not as delightfully unhinged as “Planet of Sound” or “Blue Eyed Hexe,” but it’s a welcome bit of aggro.

Inspired by Black nearly driving into a deer on the way to the studio, the sprawling “Daniel Boone” slowly swells into a version of Pixies that fans have yet to meet. There’s a slow beauty to the track that resembles some of the quieter moments on Indie Cindy, but not hardly as compressed.

Eyrie ends with another ‘tranquilizing drink,’ “Death Horizon,” a mid-tempo ditty that puts the finishing touches on what may very well be a break-up record for Black Francis. In that way, it feels like Black has shed his personas and fronted the band as his true self, Charles Thompson, for the first time. It’s who he was all along.

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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DJ PREMIER VS THE RZA

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Music continues to make this unprecedented global quarantine an unexpected treat. On Easter Eve two of the grittiest producers of our generation treated us to a trip down memory lane. DJ Premier and The RZA served up a slew of timeless joints blow for blow. Every cut invoked memories of a time when the critics and fans were universally aligned in appreciating creativity.

Over 150 thousand people zoned in and listened to these legends drop over 40 tracks of pure excellence! The tracks featured the likes of The Wu-Tang Clan, Gang Starr , Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Kanye West, Jeru the damaja, M.O.P, Big L, Mary J Blige, Christina Aguilera and many more. It was a Masters class in Hip Hop phonics and the genre’s students around the globe were all tuned in to hear it!

For the unfortunate ones that managed to miss this moment of history, here’s a visual representation of some of the subject matter presented!

Mass Appeal – Gang Starr (The ultimate drive through other people’s neighborhood joint)

Liquid Swords – GZA (This made a lot of MC’s re-evaluate their penmanship)

MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know – KRS-One (DJ’s go to record to make sure their speakers were up to the task)

Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck (If getting jumped was a record)

Nas Is Like – Nas (The record that made everyone rewind the first line like wtf did he say?!)

Brooklyn Zoo – Ol Dirty Bastard (The Brooklyn invitation to let everyone know you there)

Yes you definitely played yourself if you decided to cut instagram class tonight! The aforementioned treats were only a couple of lessons shared during this session of night school.

Shout out to the Principals (Swizz Beatz & Timberland) of battles in enhancing our quarantine curriculum by inviting these Professors of Hip Hop. Not only did they raise the bar in competition and quality but they surely injured some necks after the evening’s engaging lecture!

This class originally began with a syllabus calling for one A at the end of the semester. But the students rightfully revolted by keeping it Hip Hop and changing the rules to award the whole subject matter an A+. So on behalf of everyone with an ounce of flavor in their blood, THANK YOU PREMIER & RZA! We appreciate you!

 

 

HB aka The World Traveler is fully committed to exploring and sharing with you what the world has to offer in travel and music. Get on board and enjoy the ride!

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Janita in Love

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ECR Music Group recording artist Janita releases her new single “I Do” today, apropos of Valentine’s Day, and you won’t be able to get it out of your head.

The follow-up to “Bliss I Once Had This,” “I Do” is the second single off her new album, Here Be Dragons, dropping May 1st. It’s an honest-to-goodness anthem of love, saying more with less, and building to a gorgeous frenzy upon that killer rhythm section of Justin Goldner on bass and the incomparable Miles East on drums. Damn, that bass, tho.

Is there anything you can say to someone that’s more affectionate than I see you, I got you? Isn’t that the kind of love we all dream of? In that way the song is as much about the subject as the singer, adding to its depth and beauty.

“I have a restless soul, an innate curiosity which pushes me to learn, and to change. Uncharted territory is terribly exciting for me. I often feel like I’m on the edge of something new, even with those I’ve loved for years and years. ’I Do’ is about the renewal of one’s love for someone––love being the most thrilling of all uncharted territories––and a renewal of one’s commitment to exploring all the corners of the map of that relationship.”

Janita

Both Janita and producer Blake Morgan are the rare breed of artist that continue to grow in leaps and bounds with each new record, when you wouldn’t expect things could get any better. Janita says more in a two word chorus than many musicians do in a whole song. And Blake’s production has only gotten smoother, smarter, and more focused with every release. “I Do” is another shining example of the continued thoughtful collaboration between the two.

Do you believe two artists can find the perfect partner in each other? I do.

Catch Janita’s album release on April 30th at New York’s legendary Rockwood Music Hall.

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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Eric’s Top 10 Records of 2019

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As usual, this is a “best of” from records I actually purchased this year. If I didn’t buy it, it’s not on the list. Now get off my lawn.

 

Anak Ko – Jay Som

My favorite album of the year, easily. Jay Som (Melina Duterte) hides gifts in each track that reveal themselves with every listen. (more)

“I’m where I can feel it, I’m where I can feel.”

 

Big Thief – Two Hands

Big Thief are on fire and released two great records this year. “Not,” from their latest, is pure poetry – particularly this live performance. Seeing a band this connected is a beautiful thing.

“It’s not the meat of your thigh, nor your spine tattoo, nor your shimmery eye, nor the wet of the dew.”

 

Jaime – Brittany Howard

Brittany Howard’s first record outside of Alabama Shakes is full of magic – from the classic soul of “Stay High” to the funkadelic “History Repeats.” It may be physically impossible to stand still during the last minute and a half of this song.

“I just don’t want to be back in this place again.”

 

Self Titled – Better Oblivion Community Center

Skillful collab between Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers is some honest-to-goodness songwriting. “Dylan Thomas” is a pure pop nugget I listened to more than my doctor this year.

“I’m strapped into a corset, climbed into your corvette, thirsty for another drink.”

 

Beneath the Eyrie – Pixies

The new record is as cohesive as their early work, yet nothing like it. Bassist Paz Lenchantin plays the Nancy Sinatra role in “Ready for Love.” (more)

“I’m succeeding as a failer.”

 

Lux Prima – Karen O & Danger Mouse

Producer Danger Mouse teamed up with Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for a collection of sprawling space rock. Think Air’s Moon Safari for a new age.

“I’m nowhere, I’m no one, I’m nobody… there’s nobody but you.”

 

Old LP – That Dog

Old LP sounds like classic That Dog – dynamic, sharp, and bittersweet. That bridge at the 2:08 mark.  (more)

“Don’t bother to say goodbye, just walk away.” 

 

Itekoma Hits – Otoboke Beaver

My go-to record when feeling aggressive this year was by Japanese punk rockers Otoboke Beaver. These ladies are magically unhinged.

“ハートに火をつけたならばちゃんと消して帰って.”

 

Lets Rock – The Black Keys

The Black Keys made a quick and dirty record this year in search of the next “Louie Louie.”

“Tell me lies, la-la-la-la-la-la-lies.”

 

Means to Me – Long Beard

Leslie Bear’s jangly dream-pop would be a treat for any Harriet Wheeler fan.

“Only you can make me feel like I need something more to do.”

 

Honorable Mention

  • King of the Dudes (EP) – Sunflower Bean
  • Abbey Road Anniversary Deluxe – The Beatles
  • South Of Reality – The Claypool Lennon Delirium
  • Groove Denied – Stephen Malkmus
  • My Finest Work Yet – Andrew Bird
  • Then I Try Some More – Johanna Steinberg
  • Nostalgia Kills – Jill Sobule
  • Years To Burn – Calexico & Iron & Wine
  • Fool – Joe Jackson
  • Help Us Stranger – The Raconteurs
  • Anima – Thom Yorke
  • Minidisc [Hacks] – Radiohead
  • The Center Won’t Hold – Sleater Kinney
  • Sunshine Rock – Bob Mould
  • Planet England (EP) – Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Partridge
  • Hyperspace – Beck

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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