Archive for the ‘Frank Black’ Category

[ATTENDED: July 20, 2018] Pixies

I saw Pixies back in September 2017.  It was the first time I’d seen them in almost 30 years.  And they were fantastic.  They played 34 songs, nearly everything I wanted to hear.  I say nearly because they have not been playing any Kim Deal-sung songs.  Which is fair.  New bassist Paz Lenchantin played great (she’s a fantastic bassist) and sang enough like Kim (with her own unique spin of course) that her backing vocals were perfect.

So I assumed I’d never need to see them again.

Then it was announced that in a most improbable double bill, Weezer and Pixies would tour together.   I had seen Weezer a while back but came away disappointed with the show.  Not because of the band, but because of where I was and what I couldn’t see.  I also knew that there was at least one Pixies song that I wanted to hear (“Debaser”).  So I figured if I could get good seats for this show, I would go.

And I did.  Row G!

Pixies came out, the sun had not yet set, and just like last time, they said not a word and just launched into a blistering set of twenty-two songs.  Not bad at all for an opening (and therefore shorter) slot. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 23, 2017] Pixies

I saw the Pixies live at Giants Stadium in 1989.  They opened for The Cure and played a rollicking set.

I was a huge fan of their original albums and I’ve enjoyed The Breeders and Frank Black’s solo stuff to varying degrees.  I was intrigued when they reunited, but I wasn’t super psyched about it.  I didn’t really love the new songs they released–they were all fine, but I figured either I was past them or they had changed enough to make their new stuff less dramatic.

But when I saw that they were playing at the Stone Pony Summer Stage (the day after Autumn officially began), I thought I might like to go.  The face value  of the tickets was $37, which wasn’t too bad, but somehow after Ticketmaster got involved, the total was $59, which was way too much.  We were near Asbury Park during the summer and I stopped by the Stone Pony to buy a ticket at the box office.  But they were closed! (Closed Tuesdays, apparently).

It turned out that day of the show tickets went up to $52 (!).  Well, I was on the fence, and then while I was trying to find out what time the opening band went on (no official word except that gates opened at 5:30), I came across a ticket for sale on Stubhub for $20.  I’d never bought anything on Stubhub before, because I’d always heard the prices were crazy expensive.  Well, including fees, these tickets were less than face value.  Which is pretty awesome.  And I was all set.

For many people, the dealbreaker (ha) for this show was that original bassist Kim Deal as no longer in the band.  I had heard new bassist Paz Lenchantin and thought she sounded enough like Kim (especially in an outdoor venue) that it wouldn’t be all that noticeable that Kim wasn’t there.  What I didn’t realize and which I respect even if it meant that we lost out, was that they didn’t play any songs that Kim sang lead on.  Paz did all of the backing vocals and sang lead on the one song she sings on the newest album and the encore, but that was it. (more…)

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laurenSOUNDTRACK: PIXIES-“Bagboy” (2013).

pixies-bagboyThe first Pixies song in nine years…doesn’t feature Kim Deal on it.  Which is kind of a shame.  She was with them for a lot of the recent tours, but she went back to the Breeders recently.  I assume that everyone else from the lineup is still in the band.

But the real question is what does the song sound like?  Well, to me it doesn’t sound like the Pixies.  It sounds very much like a 90s song, but by… some other bands of the time.  Even Frank Black’s (or is it Black Francis’) voice sounds different—less brittle (despite the brittleness of what he is saying).

The song begins with keyboards and a kind of dance (electronic) drum sound.  I actually thought I clicked the wrong link when it started.  There’s chanted backing vocals while Black is singing/talking.  It all sounds very familiar but not like the Pixies.  Even the guitars sound different–less bright with a bit more flash in the solos.

The part that does sound like the Pixies is the chorus which has soaring guitars and a female singer (unknown to me at this point but she sounds a lot like Deal) singing “bagboy” while Black shouts the same.  The chorus is a comforting reminder of the Pixies’ sound.

I understand that in nine years (and countless Frank Black albums) the Pixies are going to sound different.  And while the tone is definitely Pixies, something is missing from the track, which I hope the rest of the album (should there be one) replaces.

[READ: June 28, 2013] Someday, Someday Maybe

I’ve been a fan of Lauren Graham the actress since I had a major (age appropriate) crush on her during The Gilmore Girls.  I haven’t seen everything she’s been in, but I also enjoy Parenthood quite a bit and initially tuned in because of her.  And now she’s written a book.

This book is pretty far from my usual thing (and in an interview on Huffington Post she says she doesn’t think many men will read the book).  I gather they won’t but I’m glad I did.

Set in 19995, Graham creates a wonderfully flawed character in Franny, a struggling actress who has moved to New York City and has given herself three years to become successful.  At the end of the three years, if she hasn’t made it, she’ll move back to Chicago to be with her long-term boyfriend, Clark.

She lives in Brooklyn with her best friend who is also in the business but as a production assistant (it’s nice to have them not be fighting for the same jobs).  They recently added a new roommate Dan, a writer who seems oblivious to the women (he is so focused on his screenplay that he doesn’t even seem to notice them watching TV).  It seemed apparent from the get go that there was going to be a romantic interest there.  And there was.

But first we get to see Franny’s trials and tribulations starting two and a half months until her deadline.  She’s still taking acting classes, and while she hasn’t gotten offered anything yet, she seems to be well-regarded in class.  And, she has the big showcase coming up—the performance when agents come to watch them do their thing.

And then, hurrah! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FRANK BLACK-“Headache” (1994).

Frank Black is Black Francis from the Pixies.  When the Pixies disbanded, Black set out on  a solo career.  He’s got some great songs under the Frank Black moniker and this is one of them.

This is an acoustic guitar rocker, that sounds perfectly nineties.  It builds over a series of verses, getting louder and faster with backing vocals added as the song goes along.  What’s interesting is that there’s no real chorus to the song.  The verses are more or less the choruses, although that doesn’t quite seem right either.  But after the verses, there are these quieter interlude pieces that are kind of bridges but not really.

But regardless of all of that, the song is catchy as anything (especially for a song that includes the word cranium–incorrectly used–“My heart’s crammed in my cranium”).

Wow, i thought that Black Francis has been quiet all these years, and yet I see that he has been releasing an album a year for a decade.  Talk about under the radar.

[READ: Week of August 20, 2012] JR Week 9

Holy cow, this week starts off with a lot of fun chaos in the Grynzspan apartment.  And there’s a return of lots of characters, too!  The long story arc seems to return to whence it started–the “Bast apartment,” although there are many changes afoot there.  And, for those keeping score at home, we finally get to return to the original Bast House–where kids have sex and shit in pianos.

But first the poor delivery man is back with his gross flowers.  [Simon’s comments from last week have some great ideas about the plastic flowers, too, by the way].  But before that goes anywhere, Eigen shows up to the apartment–the first time he’s been here in a while.  And as he’s coming in the door, he is given a summons for Mr Grynzspan (whom the police assume he is).  Eigen tries to control the crowd and his temper, but he’s fighting with everyone.  In particular, he’s fighting with Rhoda, who has some great lines here.  When asked if she is Mr Bast: “Man look at these I mean do I look like Mister anybody?”  When Eigen says her name “was Rhoda right,” she says “What do you mean was,” and every time Eigen puts his hands near or on her, “I said I can dry there myself.”  Things settle down and Rhoda regales Tom with the story of the shipwreck they had last night, and she’s glad that Chairman Meow isn’t drownded (610).

Then Amy calls looking for jack.  She’s back from Geneva but needs a few days to straighten out things before seeing him.  Rhoda says that Emily is someone Jack doesn’t want to see   Eigen says she’s the only think holding him together.  They repeat the same statements about Gibbs’ book.  Rhoda says that Tom is this “big important novelist” but he can’t see that Gibbs hates his own book and feels pressure from Emily/Amy. (more…)

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newyorker jun1SOUNDTRACK: ART BRUT-Art Brut vs. Satan (2009).

art brutI’ve mentioned Art Brut before. I enjoy their talky/punk style. This, their new album, is produced by Frank Black of Pixies fame.  I can’t honestly say that I see a real difference in production values, but I don’t usually notice things like that.

What I did notice is that Art Brut are branching out a little bit from just having  Eddie Argos dramatically reciting his lyrics. On “What a Rush” there’s a group chorus of “Parents, please lock up your daughters.”  And on “Summer Job” there’s a “woah ho o oh” singalong bit from a different band member as well as a sung chorus.  But aside from that they are still the same Art Brut.

The focus of Argos’ rants this time seems to be very music-centered.  “Slap Dash for No Cash” describes the kind of recording style he likes (and which was presumably used on this disc).  Meanwhile, “The Replacements” is all about his shock at only just now discovering this awesome band (and his further shock that they are almost old enough to be his parents). And, of course, there’s the ever present concern of an indie band disliking and being disliked by the mainstream: “How am I supposed to sleep at night when no one likes the music we write? The record buying public, we hate them: This is Art Brut vs. Satan”

Argos’ lyrics also return inevitably to love and sex and drinking (not necessarily in that order) with “Alcoholics Unanimous” and “Mysterious Bruises.”

There’s also a song that absolutely must be used in a future episode of The Big Bang Theory (are you listening Chuck Lorre?): “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake.”  Can you not see the perfect setup: the song is playing in the background, and as the woman that Leonard falls for leaves the comic book shop, the soundtrack breaks to the line: “I’m in love with a girl in my comic shop.  She’s a girl who likes comics. She probably gets that a lot.”

Many of their songs are funny, but to me they don’t come across as a joke band.  And despite Argos’ great delivery and witty lyrics, it’s the music that really sells the album.  You don’t notice at at first, but it’s what makes these songs more than just novelties.  The guitar solos and opening riffs are really memorable, and when the songs start, the punk guitar blasts are really catchy.

My one gripe is that on some songs, Argos repeats the same line.  A LOT.  So on “Mysterious Bruises,” a song I like, by then end I don’t want to hear him say that he’s had one Zirtec and two Advil again and again.  And that is the one pitfall that Art Brut can stumble into once in a while.  For most bands, a chorus that is sung many times can be catchy and fun to sing along to.  Art Brut’s spoken lyrics are fun to hear, and might be fun to shout along with in a concert, but hearing him repeat himself can be tedious when there’s no melody (I find this true of Rage Against the Machine as well, as Zach de la Rocha is the king of repetition.  The king of repetition.  The king of repetition.) Fortunately Argos doesn’t do it all that often.  And the album stands up to multiple listens.

[READ: May 27, 2009] “Love Affair with Secondaries”

This story, set in Moscow, concerns a man, his wife, and his mistress.  The man, Piotr, recently had some tests done to see if he inherited a familial cancer.  With this hanging over his head, he tries to prove to himself how alive he is by sleeping with his mistress Agnieszka.

The affair is conducted in his own house, because his wife Basia is out until late most evenings. One day Basia comes home while Agnieszka is still in the house.  As Agnieszka flees the house, Basia hits her with a blunt instrument; Basia later claims that she now has a tumor.  Piotr, wracked with guilt for cheating and for this presumed cancer doesn’t know what to do. (more…)

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